Meet Our Scholars
Favour is in her junior year at the U. Having grown up in Nigeria, she moved to Utah in 2020 and started her schooling at Salt Lake Community College before transferring to the U. She is studying Biology because she’s always loved concepts behind science and loves learning about anything related to the body. Favour works at the early childhood care Ukids where she enjoys playing with the kids and dancing to fun music. She has also recently joined a medical research team, studying nephrology. As a member of this team, Favour hopes to gain skills that will aid her in her future pursuits of research or pediatrics. There is a phrase from Nigeria that she tries to live by: “Problem no dey finish,” meaning that the cycle never ends, and people will always make mistakes, so you should make sure to always live life fully. She says that “it is never the end of the world. Be happy!”
Favour first started coming to MUSE events in the fall and quickly became a vital fixture at Casual Fridays. She has been such a welcome addition to the MUSE community, with her endless enthusiasm and energy! When asked why she loves coming to MUSE, Favour says it’s because “everyone makes you feel seen, like you’re important.” She has loved the welcoming atmosphere where people are immediately accepted for who they are. Favour has also been grateful for the chance to meet many new people from across campus. As she describes it, “MUSE is the best thing that has happened to me in college. I love it. I love having a place to go talk to people that genuinely care. It's the only place I get that on campus. It means a lot to me.” (2022)
Steven is a third-year student at the University of Utah and is studying physics because of how fundamental the subject is, which they find intriguing. Steven is also pursuing a music minor and has played the French horn in several ensembles on campus. They are currently working as a Learning Assistant through the College of Science. Steven likes this because it allows them to meet other students, establish relationships with professors, and develop a deeper understanding of the material. As a Research Assistant with the Department of Physics, Steven has developed the desire to pursue a career in scientific research. According to them this is because they “like the idea of learning things that haven’t been learned before.”
Steven has enjoyed coming to Casual Fridays and learning fun facts from other students. They love coming to get breakfast every week (when MUSE meets in-person) and hope to attend some Lunchtime Conversations in the upcoming semester. MUSE has given Steven a chance to “meet people just for the sake of meeting people across campus.” To Steven, MUSE has provided a welcoming atmosphere where people are happy to talk to each other and an excellent opportunity to socialize (2022).
Chris is in his sophomore year at the U after transferring from SLCC with an Associate of Science degree. With a love of problem solving and a fascination with AI and robotics, he has chosen to study Computer Science. As a student at the U, Chris hopes to prove that “through diligence and dedication, any realistic goal is possible.” In his free time, he enjoys playing golf, video games, and reading/writing fiction and poetry. For Chris, “experiencing life’s setbacks and learning well from mistakes” has been extremely important to his growth as a person. Chris works to learn from his mistakes but be kind to himself when making them.
According to Chris, “MUSE is what you make of it.” As he’s attended Casual Fridays throughout the semester, he’s had the chance to make new like-minded friends. As this is his first semester at the U, he looks forward to new educational opportunities, which he can find through MUSE, such as the opportunity to attend Lunchtime Conversations and learn about topics that are relevant in the present day. When a friend asked Chris for his advice, he responded, “know what you want and don’t be afraid to work hard for it. But don’t work too hard. Work smart.” (2021)
Dax is in his first year at the University of Utah. He is studying Anthropology, which allows him to learn more about how humans interact with one another and their cultures. Dax is hoping to become a dietician and work with individuals who have eating disorders. This is important to him because eating disorders are a hidden mental health issue, and he wants to reduce stigma and help people who are affected by it. To Dax, studying Anthropology will help him reach this goal because it will “allow him to gain a certain type of empathy when working with people in a clinical setting in which you’re able to visualize the cultural context of their issues, the sociological context of their issues, and the psychological context of their issues.”
Dax attended his first MUSE event while he was in high school and continued to stay involved when he came to the U. The first Casual Friday he came to was especially important to him because it gave him the chance to reconnect with friends and meet new people. It’s been helpful to “meet other students and to see from their perspective how their college experience is going.” According to Dax, MUSE is a “casual but a valuable experience in which you can go and be immediately included in an environment where people want to talk to you, people enjoy hearing what you have to say, and it has a ripple effect where you build more and more as you go.” (2021)
Catherine is a first year declared in chemistry but is considering changing to something that combines her STEM and humanities interests. Despite the pandemic and lack of motivation to step out of her comfort zone, Catherine has gotten very involved with MUSE as well as with her job at The Road Home. At The Road Home, she works as a housing advocate with vulnerable populations toward a goal to secure long-term housing. The experience has been eye-opening, and it has made her realize that “everybody is human, and everybody deserves these basic aspects of life that are often taken for granted but are really important to our overall wellbeing.” Moving forward, she’s interested in pursuing medicine, public health, or education because they involve working directly with people. “I want to pursue something where I feel like I can make a long-term impact in some sort of way. I have a very idealistic version of what I think the world should be, and I know it’s not that, so I want to work toward making it something closer to that.”
As a freshman during the pandemic, MUSE has given Catherine a sense of community and has made her feel a bit like she’s actually in college. She says that getting involved with MUSE was one of the best things she did this year, and that it helped reinforce the importance of education in her life. She has enjoyed Casual Fridays, Sarah Outen’s Keynote presentation, and especially a Lunchtime Conversation with Dr. John Ryan. “It was this really cool moment for me to see people from across campus coming together with this one common conversation. I feel like MUSE does that a lot. It brings together all these fields and shows that they’re all equally important and they all contribute something.” To Catherine, MUSE is all about acceptance and welcoming, regardless of difference: “it’s a group that is really good at focusing on the good in people and the importance of meeting them where they’re at and helping them to become better people.” (2021)
Tatum is a junior at the U studying Health, Society, and Policy. She chose this as a middle ground for future pursuits of either medicine or law. Her studies have helped her refine her interest in human rights law and her desire to work on “anything to better our world and political system.” Tatum is a member of a sorority and the president of Utah Naloxone for ASUU. She works as a camp counselor for kids with cancer at Camp Hobe and as a summer school teacher for kids with disabilities. Understanding her privileged background, she has always been driven by “what can I do?” Her current involvement and jobs, as well has her future goals of becoming a lawyer, stem from her desire to help people.
Tatum’s favorite MUSE memory was when she got tickets to attend Jimmy Chin and Chai Vasarhelyi’s talk at Kingsbury Hall. She likes to hear about what other people are doing, and it often inspires her to try new things. MUSE has allowed her to hear about different experiences and reach out to other people to hear more about them. From her perspective, MUSE is a “welcoming community that wants to encourage everybody to be themselves and to bring the truest form of themselves to every meeting, and learn from each other and grow as a big community on this gigantic campus.” (2020)
Sam is a senior pursuing a double major in psychology and human development at the University of Utah. She chose this combination of majors because she wants to contribute to human well being and social change and is passionate about how our environment and social relationships influence development and behavior. In addition to MUSE, Sam volunteers with the FeedU Pantry on campus and is a research assistant in the Social Relationships Lab in the Psychology Department. Her dream for the future is to become a licensed clinical social worker working with children who have experienced trauma or abuse. She explains her motivations behind this goal and how it is rooted in her experiences helping at the Children’s Center in Salt Lake City: “I have seen how adverse childhood experiences can deeply affect individuals and families long-term, and I want to help those individuals and other vulnerable populations in addressing this trauma, and also working to prevent future trauma.”
Sam loves the opportunities through MUSE to learn from and connect with amazing individuals like Justice Paige Petersen and filmmakers Jimmy Chin and Chai Vasarhelyi. Reflecting on these experiences, she wonders, “Where else would you be able interact with these pioneers and distinguished figures except MUSE?” She also loves Lunchtime Lectures for the combination of elements that create the experience: hearing from U professors about engaging topics, meeting other MUSE students, and of course free lunch! MUSE has helped Sam develop invaluable friendships and MUSE students are some of the best she has encountered at the U. She appreciates the accessibility of so many people of different disciplines, and she observes that “All walks of life converge in one place at MUSE.” (2020)
Natalie is a junior on the pre-med track, going for a minor in biomedical engineering and a major in business management. She chose this as she has always known she wanted to be a doctor, and BME provides a great avenue toward achieving that goal, especially since she has an interest in prosthetics and neural interfaces. Business is another of her interests and gives her a great opportunity to go after a well-rounded education in addition to her medical pursuits. Natalie is very involved with the Biomedical Engineering Society, Professional Business Leaders, research at the VA, volunteer work at Primary Children’s Hospital, and the water polo club team. While once observing a brain surgery, she said she had “never felt such clarity. It was this lightning bolt moment of, ‘Alright, this is the path.’”
Her advice is, “If you couldn’t show anyone your resume, if you couldn’t tell anyone about your passion, if you couldn’t tell anyone what you’re doing with this hour or these three hours of this day, would you still do it? And if the answer is 'yes,' if it is worth it to you, if it’s not for anyone else, then keep doing it. It doesn’t matter if it’s art or medicine or business or going out and staring at trees for five hours, if that's what fulfills you, if that’s where you feel like you can make an alteration on this world, then go for it. Why the hell not?” (2020)
Josh is a first year student at the U studying computer science with a games emphasis. He likes the broad opportunities and how “computer science can be applied to everything.” He is interested in many disciplines and appreciates that CS with games allows him to utilize both scientific and artistic skills. He remains grounded in his desire to create something useful, and he explains, “I want to be able to contribute as much to as many different ideas and things as possible. I want to always have a wealth of information that applies to any situation.”
Josh has met a few friends at MUSE events, particularly Casual Friday. In fact, he met friends who introduced him to the Animation Club as well as friends with the same degree emphasis as his. Although he has yet to be able to attend many events other than Casual Friday, he says that weekly gathering has “connected me to more people and networking [opportunities], and of course all the faculty and professors.” (2020)
Kaylon is in his third year at the U, and he is studying Materials Science and Engineering–a major that allows him to utilize his passion for sustainability and the environment through the development of sustainable products. Outside his major, he keeps busy as a facility manager at the Student Life Center and as a senior peer advisor for the LEAP Program. He also works in a materials science research lab looking at the optimal polymers for contact lenses, he has an internship with the Materials Characterization Lab, and he helped start the pop tab collection project through the Bennion Center. In the future, he wants to develop sustainable products through polymer work, hopefully developing biodegradable and eco-friendly plastic alternatives. Kaylon wants to make an impact: “What pushes me through college is trying to make a difference in my community and the lives of those around me and hopefully, eventually, the world.”
When asked to describe MUSE, Kaylon said, “In one word, I would say ‘amazing.’” He explained that he has met a lot of really cool people through the program and the reserved time it creates to hang out with others and get to know them better. “It provided me a network and a community where I know I can go every week.” (2020)
Zahra Saifee, a sophomore at the University of Utah, is “currently in a ‘major’ crisis,” although she will likely study Communications and Environmental & Sustainability Studies. She is highly involved on campus, working as a volunteer with the Bennion Center, an active board member in ASUU, an Air Quality Scholar through the Global Change and Sustainability Center, and a Campus Life Mentor. She is actively and visibly passionate about the environment; as she finished sharing her thoughts for this MUSE Scholar interview, she was finding space in her backpack to bring home her paper plate and cup to add to her waste tracker for the year. As she explains, it’s “more than just the environment; I really care about making other people care about the environment… communicating why people should be concerned and why they should want to take action against climate change.”
Zahra likes seeing the repeating familiar faces nearly every Friday at MUSE Casual Friday. She actually started her MUSE experience the summer before her freshman year with a Hidden Figures book club. As Zahra sees it, “Here at MUSE we try to invite different conversations and invite people of different backgrounds and people of different beliefs and seeing that community is really cool.” Zahra believes that MUSE works to be inclusive, and that it is a program where “you can discuss really important topics but in a discussion setting or a casual setting where you don’t feel like you have to know everything, and you can come here to learn and know more and you don’t have to come here knowing all the answers.” (2020)
Izzy is a sophomore at the University of Utah studying Urban Ecology and Environmental & Sustainability Studies. She believes that this combination of majors gives her the “best opportunity to make a positive impact on the greatest number of people through ensuring a sustainable future for humans and other life on this planet.” She is interested in working to address water issues and systemic environmental injustice.
Izzy has fallen in love with MUSE and comes to nearly every MUSE Casual Friday. “After I started coming to Casual Fridays, I started to feel like I had a place here, and I no longer felt as homesick,” she says. “It’s nice to have an event every Friday to look forward to and a place where I belong.” (2020)
Erick is a second year student at the U studying Material Science Engineering. He had originally known that he wanted to do something related to chemistry, and chose MSE after realizing that it is actually what he had thought chemical engineering would be. Erick is currently being funded through the Office of Undergraduate Research by an Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) grant. He is working in a research lab under Dr. Minteer in biochemistry and electrochemistry. He is relatively undecided on most fronts regarding future plans, but he is leaning toward research, as he admits that “being involved in the process of literally creating new knowledge is pretty damn cool.”
Erick makes frequent appearances at MUSE Casual Fridays and other events. With how busy he is as an engineering student, Erick appreciates the regularity of MUSE events. He likes the welcoming atmosphere and having a little bit of social contact and free food between classes. His favorite MUSE memory is a MUSE Night Out last year. He and other students attended dinner with the curators of the Utah Museum of Fine Arts before going through the exhibit Race to Promontory at the museum. He reflects that “it was really, really cool to have dinner with those people, have them tell us about the exhibition, and then go through it with them.” (2019)
Sudha is a first year student at the U but a third year overall after two years studying at other schools. She has recently decided to pursue a degree in journalism, as she particularly enjoys the social aspect of it. She is already gaining valuable experience as an intern for the K-UTE radio station. For this position, she takes on the role of DJ, blog writer, and concert-goer. While she is unsure of her exact future plans, she is interested in broadcast journalism. She is enjoying her experience with radio so far, so she is interested in radio or possibly video production.
Despite just starting at the U, Sudha is one of our most consistent MUSE event attendees. She loves Casual Fridays and explains: “I really enjoy coming into MUSE on Casual Fridays and how friendly Mark is when he greets everyone. When he greets me, it really makes me feel welcome.” When asked how MUSE has influenced her college experience, she says, “I like the social scene and the food of MUSE,” although she goes on to admit that the social aspect has been much more influential than the food. (2019)
Colt is a second year student at the University of Utah majoring in Peace and Conflict Studies, as he desires to gain “a greater understanding of international development techniques and to learn about the strategies of approaching conflict resolution.” In addition, Colt is studying Arabic with the hope of integrating it into his career. He has a particular interest in current issues affecting countries like Sudan and Yemen. He would eventually like to work with organizations that stimulate involvement of Western governments in such crises. Currently, Colt is a University Ambassador, providing prospective students tours of campus, and he is a site leader for the Queering Justice experience, an Alternative Break through the Bennion Center.
Colt sees that MUSE has created a safe space for all on campus, and he personally experiences it as a place where he doesn’t have to feel uneasy about how people will react to his identity. His favorite MUSE memory was Professor William Smith’s Lunchtime Lecture on racial battle fatigue, which he was able to connect to similar concepts he had learned in his classes. Such MUSE events are what helped Colt to make some of his closest friends through the in-depth discussions they prompt. “MUSE brings into mind conversations that are usually pushed aside but vital to a complete college education.” (2019)
Anna is in her third year at the University of Utah. She is double majoring in Health Society & Policy and Sociology, choices she made after realizing that “our society isn’t as equitable as we think it is, especially for people of color and low income individuals. The oppression and discrimination that these groups face greatly impact their physical and mental health in ways that one wouldn’t think of. And I want to get to the root cause of it all to improve overall health.” She ultimately wants to become a research analyst for policy makers so that they can effectively create a health care system that doesn’t leave people out.
From the very beginning of her experience with MUSE, Anna has felt a part of an inclusive community. She remembers one of the first Casual Fridays she attended where Mark introduced her to so many different people, making her feel like she belonged. Anna now looks forward to attending MUSE events as stress relief, a break from class and homework, and a chance to relax and socialize. She recognizes MUSE’s incredibly welcoming community that “connects students of all different backgrounds with conversation and food. Free food!” (2019)
Brooklyn is a third year student at the University of Utah studying biomedical engineering. When her niece was born with Turner Syndrome and was required to have open heart surgery at nine days old, Brooklyn refined her broad interest in science and engineering into a desire to do genetic research to detect similar problems in the womb and prevent them from happening to other kids. This translates into her long term goal of participating in a genetic research lab to see if genetic mutations and abnormalities can be prevented to increase quality of life for the general population. Brooklyn lives with the mindset that she can “always be kind, always give people the benefit of the doubt, and give second chances and be there to help people… regardless of your level of intelligence, what you look like, how you act.”
Brooklyn has made quite a few friends through attending MUSE events, and she appreciates having Casual Fridays as a way to see her friends and catch up. She enjoys the safe space and community aspect of MUSE, especially the community it fosters within the greater community of campus. Simply put, “MUSE is a good time every Friday, and it’s one of the best places on campus to make friends.” (2019)
Melina is a junior at the U studying nursing, a path that she chose as it maximizes her positive impact while utilizing her specific skill set. As a participatory member of the Honors College and the Nursing Early Assurance Program, she has had access to many events and opportunities that have helped her to connect with her peers. She is also involved with the Bennion Center, through which she volunteers for Saturday Service Projects, Bags to Beds, and knitting baby hats. Her affinity for service translates into her current job in medical oncology and her plans to attend graduate school to become a nurse practitioner, as well as her hopes to spend time working in disaster relief and humanitarian aid.
Melina has been involved with the MUSE Project ever since her freshman year. She particularly loves the Lunchtime Lectures for the opportunity they provide to gain perspective and hear from professors in other fields. Melina appreciates the fact that “MUSE has not only created events to help students become involved, but also connects them to other opportunities for campus involvement and networking.” (2019)
Moani is studying applied mathematics, a choice that stems from their “give me an equation and I’ll solve the problem” mindset. However, their interests vary greatly, and this shows in their involvement on campus and around the community. Moani is a student staff worker at the LGBT Resource Center and they also volunteer in a local research lab which tracks wildlife in Salt Lake City and the surrounding canyons using camera traps. This work complements their applied math major in preparation for their future aspirations, which include attending grad school for biology with the end goal of working with wildlife and utilizing their skills in math and data analysis to model natural processes. Ideally, this would allow them to work in a variety of environments including labs, the outdoors, and with computers.
Moani attends every MUSE event they have the chance to. They fondly reflect on last year’s spring gala and the opportunity it provided to interact with professors and other students, share a good laugh, and take lots of pictures. Reflecting on their experiences with MUSE so far, Moani asked, “You know how people say college is the best four years of your life? All of that is encapsulated in MUSE.” Just as MUSE has done for them, Moani hopes to “be known for making a positive impact and just having that ability to make people smile and make people feel better.” (2019)
Will is a student in his fourth year at the University of Utah. He is studying Computer Science, a discipline he fell in love with because of the underlying creativity he finds in it. He hopes to take his work in Computer Science to under-developed countries in an effort to establish green technology in those areas. Will is also involved with the men’s track and field club on campus, and as the president of that club he looks forward to pushing for men’s track and field to become an official part of University of Utah athletics.
Will says that MUSE has given him many great opportunities over the years, including the chance to attend the MUSE keynote event with Vice President Joe Biden and to work as a MUSE Intern at the Marriott Library. He says his work as a MUSE Intern provided him with a low-stress and flexible environment that ultimately helped him maintain a successful college career. “I am usually stuck in my corner of the campus,” Will says. “But MUSE gives me a chance to see other parts of campus and what’s happening around me.” MUSE has helped Will to spread out and participate in many unique experiences, and of course a chance to show up under-dressed to one-too-many events. (2019)
Julianne is a University of Utah Honors student studying French, a choice she made because of her love of the language and France’s rich culture. She believes in the power of language to connect people across cultures, privilege, and politics. Julianne is also passionate about sustainability and the environment, and she is double-majoring in Geography with an emphasis in Climate Change and Landscape Dynamics. She hopes to establish educational outreach to help people develop services that benefit the environment and a better understanding of what those benefits are. While she isn’t sure of where her future will take her, she knows she will be engaged in the community in an effort to provide experiences for others, especially those from underrepresented groups, that help them find a sense of belonging and purpose.
As a student who wants to be a friend, an ally, and a supporter to everyone, Julianne found MUSE to be an inclusive space with a “positive, welcoming atmosphere at each event, from conversations with amazing public figures and professors to MUSE Casual Fridays every week.” Every event gives her an opportunity to meet new people and reconnect with old friends, which in turn allows her to learn more about herself. She appreciates how MUSE transforms a big campus with a large student body into a close community in which people from all disciplines can come together. (2019)
Pisti is a fourth-year student studying Graphic Design. She hopes to spend her life creating, whether it be through art or design. Along with her love for the arts, Pisti is passionate about people and making them feel seen. She loves to make herself and the people around her smile and laugh. Pisti believes in finding support systems for college students, as it can be easy to get lost or feel alone on large campuses. Pisti is an intern for the Office of Student Success and Empowerment, a place where she can support students in finding the resources they may need.
Pisti found herself returning to MUSE Casual Friday on a regular basis, as it gave her a chance to meet new people and reconnect with peers. She says that MUSE has allowed her to find a community of students, professors, and staff members on campus. In her words, MUSE is “an organization that believes in connecting students with one another, providing them with opportunities they wouldn’t normally have, and promoting the student experience at the University of Utah.” (2019)
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 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 says he enjoys MUSE because he likes “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 MUSE 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 Harvest Dinner, where she met the director of MUSE, Prof. 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 that “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 in 2018. 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 describes Casual Friday as a chance to “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 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 are 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. I’m 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 Harvest Dinner. 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 about what an asset professors are.” (2018)
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, as she describes, she “struggled with how technical it was and felt really detached from people.” 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 attending a small dinner with Dr. Knatokie Ford in 2018. She explains that 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. As she explains, “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 Dr. Ellen Stofan [the former Chief Scientist at NASA] in 2018. 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, MUSE 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’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 in 2018. She explained, “[Dr. Ford] was just recounting personal experiences [and] they were positions 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)
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 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 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 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, 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 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, 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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)
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 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)