Wieteke Holthuijzen is a biology graduate student from Boise, Idaho
Hometown: Boise, Idaho
Major: Biology graduate student
What is your anticipated graduation year? 2021
What scholarships did you receive and why did you receive them? How has the financial support impacted your experience at NIU? I received the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship; myself and Dr. Holly Jones put together a robust framework to study the diet of invasive house mice on the world's largest albatross colony, Midway Atoll. The financial support has helped me to take on a project that I never would have been able to complete otherwise; I very grateful for this opportunity and to work alongside prestigious faculty at NIU.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you pursuing that as a major, or have you taken another path? There are many things that I wanted to do when I was kid — becoming president of the United States was one (and still remains one of my goals). However, I've also loved the outdoors and birds all of my life, so I went down the route and ecology and biology — and now I'm an M.Sc. student at NIU.
What is your major (and/or minor) and why did you decide on this course of study? My M.Sc. is in Biological Sciences; I am very passionate about understanding how wildlife is affected by people and what we can do to lessen our impact on the environments in which we live.
What has been something you have found pleasantly surprising about your experience at NIU? I met my fiancé here! We're both graduate students in Biological Sciences.
Are you involved in any student organizations or extra-curricular activities? If so, which ones? How have they added to your experience as a Huskie? I served on the Graduate Council; it helped me to understand how faculty and staff work together on setting program requirements, develop courses, and the many administrative duties that happen "behind the scenes."
Who has been one of your favorite instructors/professors and why? What course did they teach? I really have enjoyed courses taught by Dr. Rich King, in particular his Conservation Genetics class. He did an excellent job teaching a really complex topic and connecting it to real-world conservation examples.
Where is your favorite spot on campus or in the community? Why are you drawn to it? The lagoon--it's beautiful and peaceful, and there's always lots of Canada goose goslings wandering around during the spring.
What advice would you give to a student who is applying to colleges? Go to a place where you have a strong faculty support system and where you can study what you're truly interested in; also, don't forget about quality of life! Go to a university or college where you connect with the local community
Coming to college, what is something that you have had to learn to do differently? Having a better work/life balance. Being a graduate student is challenging, as you often have to balance many tasks at once, including research, course work, and teaching. You can easily get caught up in working overtime, so it's important to set boundaries and make sure that you have time to enjoy life.
What do you do to relax or recharge? Roller skating, long boarding, drawing, doodling, sitting in my backyard with a cup of tea and watching birds visit my bird feeders.
Tell us about your experience leading up to and choosing NIU. I chose NIU based on faculty; I specifically wanted to work with Dr. Holly Jones, which is why I selected NIU for my graduate career.
Tell us about your experience after graduating from NIU. Haven't graduated yet, but I plan on beginning my Ph.D. at the University of Tennessee in fall 2021.
What are you most proud of in your professional career? So far, having received the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and being able to do complex research that I never would have had the opportunity to do otherwise. I'm really proud and grateful to work with everyone in the Evidence-based Restoration Lab from Dr. Holly Jones.
In a few sentences, please share the impact NIU has had on your life. I've met my fiancé here at NIU, so that has been a major impact! I've learned to trust myself and gain more self-confidence in my skills and critical thinking as a scientist. I'm also grateful to have made some wonderful friends in the Biological Sciences Department.