Biology student appreciates supportive and encouraging environment

Catalina Gonzalez

Sophomore Catalina Gonzalez, is going through a process of personal growth that her on-campus supervisor, Debbie Duff, has seen many times before at Mount Mary University.

Catalina, a biology major, is a student worker in the Office of Financial Aid, helping with administrative and customer service duties.

“I’ve known Catalina since her freshman year, and I am watching her grow in confidence and knowledge,” Duff said. “Last year Catalina was quiet and reserved, now she is beginning to find herself, to see who she is. This is truly the power of transformation.”

Catalina has received a Wisconsin Grant for the past two academic years. Without the Wisconsin Grant, she would be unable to devote as much time to her studies and her job – both of which are on the top of her priorities.

Catalina, who also attended the all-girls St. Joan Antida High School prior to enrolling at the all-women university, appreciates the encouragement that has come from a supportive environment and close-knit community from all-female institutions. This support has given Catalina the confidence she needs to succeed. Encouraging and empowering young women like Catalina reflects the University’s mission, to transform lives and communities.

“Our students come to Mount Mary seeking a place that believes in them,” Duff said. “And we do believe.”

“Everyone here at Mount Mary is very helping and supportive, especially the faculty,” she said. “Math is my least-favorite subject, so I reached out to tutors, which has really helped.” Whether she is persevering through the challenge of mathematics or asking professors to critique her resume as she applies for internships, Catalina has set her sights on success.

As part of her bio-chemistry seminar, she is currently seeking an internship in a biology-related field and is sending out query letters and resumes to local institutions such as the zoo and the public museum. Upon graduation, she would like to work as a wildlife biologist for a public agency such as the Department of Natural Resources.

This semester’s coursework includes the bio-chemistry seminar, college algebra, zoology, and limnology (the study of lakes and their ecology). Zoology is her favorite class, and she is enthusiastic about “learning about different types of organisms in the environment and seeing how we’re all interconnected,” she said. She is enjoying the lab work for this class, which involves dissecting and studying clams and squids.

“I decided to become a biology major back in high school, because I really like to do hands-on activities,” she said.

Catalina, the oldest of four children in her family, enjoys gardening, hiking, and observing plants and animals she sees around her. She is the first in her family to attend college.

“I appreciate the involvement and help I’ve received along the way,” said Catalina. “Thank you for believing in me, and for the mission that I am proud to represent.”

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