Meet Our Scholars


Chelsea Li

Chelsea, who is a Biology/Pre-Med major, wants to make an impact on society, either through work in the medical field or by advocating for representation for Asian Americans. Upon reflection of her time growing up, she says, “I was mostly influenced by my family because there was a lack of representation elsewhere.”

Chelsea has been involved with MUSE for over a year now. She first came to MUSE during the 2017-18 academic year, when the MUSE theme was Empowerment. She was inspired by the guest speakers she heard and the events she attended. In MUSE, she found a program on campus that provided her the right community. She says that one of her most impactful memories from MUSE was when Margot Lee Shetterly, author of Hidden Figures, and Dr. Ellen Stofan, the former Chief Scientist at NASA, visited the U. “It was inspirational to hear women in STEM talk about being successful,” Chelsea says. She appreciates MUSE because it provides space for great conversations with other MUSE scholars, opportunities to hear from motivational speakers, and access to great events throughout the year. (2018)

Ben Battistone

Ben is a philosophy major fulfilling pre-med requirements. He seeks “a well-lived life, having good people around me and benefitting those around me in a positive way.” He is highly motivated by living proleptically and encouraging those around him to grow, exemplified by leadership and involvement in programs on campus. He serves the University not only as a Presidential Ambassador but also by integrating himself in several other campus initiatives. Ben reminds us to never take our opportunities for granted and to be truly cognizant about who you are and those around you.

Ben enjoys MUSE because, “I like making connections, having interesting conversations, and experiencing other people’s perspectives and MUSE gives you a context to do so.” He looks forward to every casual Friday because it gives him a chance to relax at the end of the week with the incredible community MUSE has built. (2018)

Kylie Ray Lee

Kylie found a sense of belonging and support in the Eccles Scholarship cohort her
freshman year at the University of Utah. She discovered another inclusive community
after hearing about MUSE from a friend who encouraged her to attend the Fall Gala,
where she met Mark Matheson. She’s been coming to MUSE events ever since. She
thinks both MUSE and the Eccles Scholars groups offer a unique and valuable
experiences, noting, “as a member of the Eccles Scholars cohort I already have the
experience of a strong community, but MUSE offers that for students who may not have the same opportunity.”
As a chemistry student, Kylie strongly related to Dr. Knatokie Ford’s remarks on STEM and empowerment. She explained, “Dr. Ford spoke to a lot of feelings I have had, and I felt encouraged.” Her favorite regular MUSE event is Casual Friday, which she attends nearly every week with a group of friends. She enjoys Casual Friday because, “you meet a diverse group of students with a strong sense of community, and it’s a nice time to take a break with friends.” (2018)

Cynthia Checketts

Cynthia is motivated by a broad spectrum of interests, that encompasses both art and science. As such, she chose to major in Biology with a minor in English. Eventually she hopes to be a conservation researcher in the field, and maintain writing on the side. She is interested “in birds, and studying birds in different ecosystems and… why they’re important. There are animals that people use products from, and those are obviously important, but then there’s other animals like songbirds or tigers, and we don’t directly benefit from them… I want to learn more about why they’re important to conserve. Cause I am sure people are like ‘oh if a tiger dies in the forest it’s far away and not a big deal,’ but in the long-run it is.”

Cynthia’s favorite MUSE event was the 2017 Fall Gala. She explained, “it was my first big MUSE event, and I was living away from my family and I was going to this fancy gala… I think of myself as an extroverted introvert, and [at the gala] I got to meet new people… and I got to sit next to some professors. Having that interaction with them outside of the class context is something I hadn’t had before, and talking to them like normal people and hearing what they were interested in was really cool for me, and it really helped shape my perspective about my college experience, and what an asset professors are.” (2018)

Angela Trolio

Angela’s love for technology and people permeates her studies and interests as a student at the University of Utah. Though she started as a computer science student, she opted to switch to studying psychology with a minor in computer science because she, “struggled with how technical it was and felt really detached from the person.” She hopes to eventually use both fields with an interdisciplinary approach to consider “how technology and humans work together.”

As a woman in STEM, Angela really enjoyed the small dinner with Dr. Knatokie Ford. At the time she was, “struggling with whether to stay in computer science for the money… [Dr. Ford] made me realize that if it’s not what I want to do, then I shouldn’t do it. That was powerful coming from such an influential woman in STEM.” (2018)

Rebecca (Mars) Basset 

Rebecca got her nickname, Mars, in the ACCESS Program for Women in Science and Mathematics, because her aspiration is to eventually visit the Red Planet. She believes that, “It’s the next step in exploration. Humans have always been explorers, it’s in our DNA to push past what we’ve done before and go places we haven’t been. I think we have a lot to learn from Mars. It’s relatively close to us, but it’s so different, so we can study that and come to a better understanding of our universe.”’

As a chemistry major and aspiring astronaut, Rebecca thoroughly enjoyed MUSE’s morning conversation with Ellen Stofan. Rebecca was particularly intrigued by Dr. Stofan’s discussion of systems. As she recalled, “Dr. Stofan talked about how earth is a very water based system and how life could’ve evolved in another system, like a methane based system.” Rebecca came to MUSE hoping to attend events with Dr. Stofan and Margot Lee Shetterly, our keynote speakers for 2018, but in the spirit of a true explorer, she found that she also loved “MUSE for itself and the community.” (2018)

Espi Oyarzun 

Espi’s passion for linguistics runs in her family. Her father, who is a linguist, taught her about linguistics and sparked her curiosity about the field. When she came to the University of Utah, she decided to combine her interest in linguistics with her fondness for biology by pursuing a double major. In the future, she hopes to continue to merge these fields by attaining a graduate education in neuroscience, and working as either a researcher or doctor.

Espi’s favorite MUSE memory thus far was the group dinner with Dr. Knatokie Ford. She explained, “[Dr. Ford] was just recounting personal experiences [and] it’s a position I’ve been in and felt similarly. That was really fun and it was really cool to have just about 10 or so of us talking with her, that’s not an experience I thought I would ever have. She instilled inspiration in me to continue pursuing STEM.” (2018)

Ayana Amaechi

As a Freshman, Ayana is a relatively new member of the MUSE community. Despite being new to university life, she has amassed an impressive set of both past experiences and future aspirations. She is incredibly active in on-campus groups and programs like FYC and UFIT.

Ayana is firmly committed to her current major, Honors Biology, with the eventual goal of attending medical school and later working as a pediatric neonatologist. Avidly invested in STEM, Ayana was particularly drawn to one of MUSE’s recent events, Dr. Knatokie Ford’s visit. When asked to reflect on the experience meeting and conversing with Dr. Ford, Ayana said, “she just has all this oomph about her that makes me want to do more, and that’s something that I’ve totally felt throughout my whole MUSE experience as well.” (2018)

Lindsay Schuring 

Lindsay Schuring frequently explains her love of STEM and biomedical engineering through the example of Luke Skywalker’s mechanical arm; “it’s so otherworldly and so magical, but also very obtainable, it’s the image everybody gets!” Though she might not want to make a functional replica of Luke Skywalker’s arm, she does hope to work on prosthetics after graduating this spring. As a female in engineering, Lindsay has found MUSE’s recent events, like Dr. Knatokie Ford’s visit, particularly impactful. When Lindsay introduced Dr. Ford, she described her as the “Beyonce of the STEM World.” Afterwards, she reflected, “I loved what she talked about, because it was just so relevant.”

 Like Dr. Ford, Lindsay is an excellent representative for STEM fields. As she put it, “[biomedical engineering] is not magic, it’s real, it’s science… If I could name it something, it would be magical engineering.” (2018)

Drake Bratton 

Drake started at the University of Utah last semester as a pre-med student. After realizing he wanted to become a teacher, he decided to change to English Teaching because it is a subject he deeply enjoys. Drake hopes teaching will allow him to “influence the next generation in a good way, because some of the authority figures in this country nowadays are probably not teaching our kids the best things. You can talk about making a difference by donating money and all that, but I feel like you make your best difference by showing it and walking it out; showing people how to be a good person.” The Great Gatsby sparked Drake’s interest in literature, due to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s artful use of language. Drake is also passionate about history, in particular, the Civil Rights Movement and leaders like Huey P. Newton and Stokely Carmichael.

Drake’s favorite MUSE event was a dinner last semester, during which he met a fellow orientation leader. He also loves Casual Fridays because, “at Casual Friday you run into people that you’ve never seen before and wouldn’t meet otherwise, but you learn so much from other people’s experiences.” (2018) 

Aziza Hussein 

Aziza Hussein is a senior majoring in Human Development and Family Studies with a minor in Nutrition. In the future Aziza hopes to attend graduate school, but her long-term interests and goals are informed by her personal background as a refugee. She wants to give back to the community by working for a local non-profit that assists refugees coming to the United States. She believes that offering support to refugees, especially those with mental health conditions, is particularly important, given that “they don’t always have the support of their families” due to negative social stigmas.

Aziza has frequented MUSE events since her sophomore year. The Sill Center, and the people here have given her “a lot of support, and act like a second family.” Her favorite MUSE event to date was a lunchtime lecture with a professor who was open and responsive to student questions. (2018)

Edward Barrowes 

Edward Barrowes, currently in his second year at the U, is a Biomedical Engineering Major whose future goals include participating in one of the unique, innovative research initiatives housed right here at the University. Namely, Edward is particularly intrigued by a project dubbed the “The Utah Electrode Array” which is developing miniature microchips that, as Edward describes them, get “implanted in the motor cortex of the brain and essentially pick up the signals from the part of the brain that controls body movement and then sends them out to a machine or a prosthetic.”

Engineering emphasis aside, Edward is also incredibly attuned the importance of engaging with the larger university community as a whole, and has done so in a couple of meaningful ways. From his stint as an Orientation Team Leader for the Center For New Student and Family Programs to the Flex U course on World Dance that he enrolled in this past Winter Break, Edward is fully invested in ensuring his educational experience is as multifaceted as it is illuminating. Following suit with this inclination, Edward is also a frequent attendee at MUSE events as he feels that they afford him the opportunity to “see that there are people who are just as engaged and just as intellectually focused in what they’re doing but in something that is completely different from my own experience.” (2018)

Martyn Duniho

Martyn is an English Education student entering his senior year. When asked about his future career goals, Martyn says he “strives to be a positive influence to learners. I want to make novels, literature, and English intrinsically fun for students – like I had a few English teachers do for me.”

Martyn enjoys attending MUSE events because they are “so positive and relaxed, with no pretension … [in] such an inspiring, small community.” Since transferring the the U from Salt Lake Community College, Martyn has become Chair of the U’s English Student Advisory Committee, a role which he likes because allows him to get to know others in the English department as they collaborate and put on events. In order to feel engaged in college, he suggests other students get involved with issues and activities they care about, instead of only defaulting to the monotonous tasks they feel they “should” do. (2017)

Jay Jensen

Jay, currently in his senior year at the U, is an Environmental and Sustainability Studies major. A firm believer that health and the environment are closely linked, Jay plans on attending medical school with the eventual goal of splitting his time between environmental and health research and pediatric care.  

A long standing member of the MUSE community, Jay first became involved with MUSE during his freshman year when he participated in a book club. Since then, Jay has been to countless MUSE events, his favorite among them being the talk given by this year’s MUSE keynote speaker and founder of Humans of New York, Brandon Stanton. “The way that [Brandon] was able to impact people and have these mini relationships with people he met on the street inspired me to really put myself out there more,” Jay reflected. In addition to bringing inspiring speakers to campus, for Jay, MUSE provides a casual community in which students can come together and make meaningful connections. (2017)

Max Chaffetz

Max is currently a senior in his last semester at the U. He is studying English and will be attending law school at the University of Virginia this fall. As far as future goals are concerned, Max has an interest in going on to work in litigation after receiving his law degree.

Max has been a MUSE intern for the Hinckley Institute of Politics for the past year. He has found the internship to be hugely important in preparing him for life as a working professional. “Everyday, I had the opportunity to interact with my peers but also with administrative people at the university, and it really helped me to prepare professionally for a future job,” Max said. In addition to his involvement with the MUSE internship program, Max is a frequent attendee at MUSE Lunchtime Lectures. For Max, the lectures provide the opportunity to “meet with other like minded students” and learn from professors whose disciplines fall outside of his major. (2017)

Maeve Haggerty


Maeve is currently a freshman at the U, where she is studying Social Work. After graduation, she plans to pursue a graduate degree in Speech Pathology. In addition to her career aspirations, at some point in her life Maeve would like to move to Oregon, Washington, or the United Kingdom.

Maeve does a terrific job of acknowledging the importance of school while also realizing that there are other aspects of life worth cultivating as well. Maeve explains that “[being] satisfied with who I am, and what I do, and where I am” is equally, if not more important to her than her career. MUSE is one of the organizations Maeve uses to help strike this balance between school and life. A MUSE scholar of almost a year, Maeve greatly appreciates that MUSE provides an opportunity to make meaningful connections with both students and professors, all in an environment that is welcoming and flexible enough to fit into any schedule. (2017)

Iqmal Halim

Iqmal Halim is currently in his junior year at the U and is pursing a degree in Electrical Engineering.

Iqmal has been involved with MUSE for over a year now. He makes a conscious effort to attend events like Lunchtime Lectures and MUSE Casual Fridays, as he believes they provide an excellent opportunity to network and are “a great way to diversify yourself and be exposed to things outside of your major.” In addition to being involved with MUSE, Iqmal serves as an Ambassador for International Student Scholarship Services. An international student from Malaysia himself, Iqmal is constantly finding ways to get involved on campus and loves connecting with students whose experiences are unique and diverse from his own. (2017)

Lindsey Vickers

Lindsey Vickers is a senior who is double-majoring in Anthropology and English. “I want to write,” she says, when asked about her post-graduation plans.

Lindsey became involved with MUSE after meeting our director, Professor Mark Matheson, and she has been a committed MUSE Scholar ever since. She has participated in MUSE’s theme year events extensively, and has had the opportunity to meet past MUSE guests like author Wes Moore, Congressman John Lewis, and our most recent guest, Brandon Stanton. “Wes Moore spoke a couple years ago and I loved it! I went up to him afterwards with my book; it had all these sticky tabs, and I was so nervous because it looked like tattered mess, but I gave it to him and he said, ‘This is my favorite thing to see.’” (2017)

Ananya Sriram

Ananya Sriram is currently a freshman studying Chemical Engineering. After graduation, she plans to attend a graduate program in Engineering with the eventual goal of conducting research on energy or biological applications.

Ananya first attended a MUSE Casual Friday toward the end of her first semester as a U student, and she has returned nearly every Friday morning since. Ananya loves that MUSE provides a casual environment in which she can “hear about and learn from the experiences of other students,” and where she can engage with professors in a meaningful way. One of her favorite MUSE memories was hearing Professor Xan Johnson recount the incredible the story of how he traveled across the country in a car full of strangers to attend the memorial service for President Kennedy. Ananya is excited to continue her involvement with MUSE as she thinks it makes her a “more well-rounded and connected student.” (2017)

Lorilie Spegar

Lorilie Spegar is in her second year at the U and is currently pursuing a major in English with a minor in Music. After graduation, Lorilie plans to pursue a career in publishing, specifically focused on novels.

Lorilie first became aware of MUSE three years ago at a Connecting U event. Since then, she has been a bright and invigorating presence at MUSE activities. Through her involvement with MUSE, she has attended Lunchtime Lectures as well as talks given by the Dalai Lama and Congressman John Lewis. In addition to being a stellar MUSE Scholar, Lorilie serves as the ASUU Assembly Representative for the College of Humanities and as a University Ambassador. She is constantly recommending MUSE to other students as she believes it enhances the time that a student has at the U and “offers so many unique and important experiences.” (2017)

Christine Kannapel

Christine Kannapel is currently a senior studying English. She loves the process of conducting academic research, and she hopes to become a professor in a discipline like English or History.

For the past three years, Christine has been a fantastic member of the MUSE community. Her involvement began with her participation in a MUSE book discussion group her freshman year, and she has been a frequent presence at MUSE events like Casual Fridays and keynote speeches ever since. Christine loves that MUSE is a organization through which she can engage with driven, insightful students from a wide variety of backgrounds. In her own words, “If you’re looking for motivation in a friendly environment, new friends, and connections, MUSE is a really good opportunity for that.” (2017)

Sydney Stephens

Sydney Stephens is a junior pursuing a degree in Wildlife Biology. She hopes to work in conservation-based medicine and wildlife medicine to help tackle widespread conservation issues.

Sydney became involved with MUSE in June 2016, when she was invited by a friend to join a group of MUSE Scholars who attended the Dalai Lama’s address at the Huntsman Center. She enjoyed the opportunity of talking to a diverse group of people about their perspective on his visit. She regularly attends MUSE Casual Fridays and thinks they are a great way for students to reach outside of the group of people with whom they normally interact. She also finds them to be a place where conversations can take place about how to be successful as a student at the U. (2017)

Nate Berger

Nate is a junior who studies Finance and is involved with the Ethics Club in the Business School. In Nate’s view, MUSE offers experiences that can change you as a person and open your eyes up to new ideas, which he often finds at MUSE Lunchtime Lectures.

When he reflected on some of his most memorable MUSE experiences, Nate shared how he felt at last year’s screening of the movie “Selma,” an event which was attended by MUSE Scholars and Rev. France Davis (who participated in the Selma to Montgomery March when it occurred in 1965). “I sat right behind Reverend Davis during the movie and it really brought home the struggle and reality of the Civil Rights movement as well as the importance of its place in our nation’s history. It made me realize [that historical time] really was not that long ago.” (2017)

Levis Wiggins

Levis Wiggins received a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Utah in December 2016. He is currently holding an internship with Campus Utility Services at the U, and he plans to use his degree to design HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems.

Levis first got involved with MUSE three years ago, and has attended many MUSE Lunchtime Lectures since. Last year, he participated in a MUSE Night Out where a group attended an evening lecture about the biodiversity in Yellowstone, a topic Levis found very interesting to learn about. In his own words, MUSE “gives students the opportunity to learn about different subjects outside of their majors,” and it expands students’ creativity. (2017)

Tyrell Pack


Tyrell Pack is a senior studying Chemical Engineering. He hopes to work in alternative energy and develop new methods to make renewable energy more available.

Tyrell first got involved with MUSE three years ago when he attended a MUSE lecture by author Wes Moore. After that he couldn’t stay away. Tyrell enjoys the opportunities MUSE gives to students, noting, “The MUSE Project has helped me realize your life can have different aspects and you can help people differently depending on your skills, abilities, and passions.” Perhaps his most impactful experience with MUSE involved meeting Congressman John Lewis last fall. “It was amazing to meet someone from the Civil Rights movement who helps promote equality in our nation.” (2017)

Elizabeth Morales


Liz Morales is a senior studying Ethnic Studies and Communication. She plans to attend graduate school and later work in student affairs and higher education policy.

Liz has been a MUSE Scholar for three years. She believes MUSE helps to inspire students through the guests they bring to the University of Utah campus, noting that MUSE has brought in “such amazing people, who motivate others to want to do better.” She also appreciates how flexible MUSE is as a program. “It’s just something where you get out it what you put in. If you want to be there, MUSE provides you with support.” Liz is currently serving as an RA in the new Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute. “I’ve had all my residents sign up and become MUSE Scholars. I always tell them specifically about all of the events that you hold, and your motto of providing an exceptional experience to students at the U.” (2017)

Michael Adkins


Michael is a sophomore studying Chemical Engineering, with the goal of attending medical school. Through conversation with other MUSE Scholars at MUSE Casual Fridays, Michael’s old passion for stock market trading has been revived and he recently started a stock market club where he teaches other students how to trade.

“[MUSE] is really good place to learn about new ideas. It’s really hard to have an opinion on something you’ve never thought about before, like racism, inclusion on campus, and microaggressions. I am going to college to study engineering, which is as far away from those ideas as possible. That is what’s great about MUSE–it helps me get out of that space where I’m doing hard science every single day and say, ‘Okay, thermodynamics are important and math is important, but there is also a social aspect to everything an engineer does.’ MUSE helps diversify me as an engineer.” (2017)