STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: Katie Easter

BY STAFF REPORTS
08/17/2020 09:00 AM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Katie Easter
TAHLEQUAH – Northeastern State University student Katie Easter has been awarded the Grand River Dam Authority Scenic Rivers and Watershed Research Fellowship.

A Cherokee Nation citizen from Eureka Springs, Arkansas, Easter is an integrative biology, fisheries and wildlife biology major who is set to graduate in December.

She describes her journey through higher-education as a story of perseverance.

“My higher education journey has been very non-traditional. At 16, I went to college and within a few years had flunked out, was expelled. I was convinced that school wasn’t for me and didn’t pursue it any further,” she said. “In my late 20s, I decided I wanted to be a scientist and had to go through a special admissions process to be accepted to NSU. They were the only school that would give me a chance, considering my record. I experienced immediate connections with students and faculty and NSU ended up being a really good fit for me. Undoubtedly, I wouldn’t be where I am today without the love, support and guidance of faculty in NSU’S biology department who have shaped me into a scientist.”

Easter said she plans to use the fellowship for research on Oklahoma scenic rivers and watersheds and create a project with other researchers in the areas of environmental science, aquatic and terrestrial wildlife and water quality management.

“The more research that is generated in these areas creates space for local data-driven decisions. In a world full of opinions, it’s important that peer-reviewed data is regularly generated and available to not only the scientific community but our families, communities and lawmakers. I am honored to work with GRDA and be named a research fellow,” she said.

She also has advice for fellow NSU students.

“Everyone is a scientist, especially Indigenous folk. If you aren’t a member of American Indians in Science and Engineering, I would join immediately. Join AISES, go places,” she said. “Get to know your professors. They aren’t as scary as you think. Apply for every scholarship you’re eligible for. The moves you make now will either haunt or help you, but even if they haunt you it’s nothing you can’t recover from. Never give up, even if it takes you over a decade to graduate.”

Easter hopes to pursue a graduate and doctoral degree while working towards a career as a research scientist.

The Native American Support Center at NSU is available to help Native students feel at home and create a sense of community. Students may call 918-444-3042 or email nasc@nsuok.edu for more information.

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