Jeannie Wilkening is an Honors College graduate who mixes a scientific mind with connections that extend well beyond the lab. Now pursuing a PhD after a Churchill Scholarship – and Masters – from the University of Cambridge, she’s quick to share her insights with current and prospective Wildcats. Editorial Note: Jeannie's commits have been edited and paraphrased.
HONORS: When and how did your Honors College experience affect your life direction?
My freshman Honors seminar, taught by Eduardo Saez, focused on human rights and the environment. Now I see environmental issues from a broader societal scope, along with the opportunity we as engineers have to solve them. The same applies to societal issues. On a personal level, the friends I made in the vibrant Honors community are still missed even six years later.
HONORS: What about Honors College prepared you for what’s next?
Beyond important Chemical Engineering coursework, my experiences outside the classroom began in my freshman year. Research both at UA and other universities through the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) was only the beginning. I fell in love with research as an undergrad and carried my interests forward to Cambridge and now UC Berkeley.
HONORS: And your recommendations for current Honors College students?
Don’t be afraid to take an unorthodox path. Your undergraduate years are a great time to explore the world, challenge yourself and discover new interests. I got my degree in Chemical Engineering but also studied sustainable development in Sweden, minored in Art History and took a Pilates class my senior year. Learn to live and work in another country, along with how to get back up and try again when you fall down (in a very literal sense when it comes to Pilates).