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Heather's Beloit

[Heather McGee]Rower, knitter, phytoplankton analyst, Gaelic enthusiast, sailor: senior Heather McGee is all of these things. To her, though, the combination is not odd. Having a range of passions is common at Beloit—and that is one of the reasons she came. 

“Beloit has lots of interesting academic programs and clubs,” she says. “The students have tons of different interests, and everyone I met was passionate and genuinely motivated to learn.” 

Among such a group, Heather fit right in. She found that Beloit’s diverse community fostered more than friendship: it pushed her to grow. “When you’re surrounded by motivated and widely experienced people,” she says, “their traits rub off on you.” Heather’s newly-acquired traits? “I’ve become more self confident and adventurous,” she says. 

An adventuresome spirit was required for Heather’s study abroad program. With the help of Beloit’s Office of International Education, she enrolled in SEA. The semester-long program exposed the environmental biology major to a range of fascinating topics. Maritime studies, oceanography, and nautical science all came in handy during Heather’s final task: sailing a brigantine ship from Cape Cod to the Caribbean. 

During SEA, Heather also conducted independent research. She studied phytoplankton populations to monitor global warming effects. Though she did not find the correlation she hypothesized, her experience was eye-opening. “I saw the effects of globalization first hand,” she says. “It gave me a whole new perspective.” 

Heather had an entirely different—though equally transformative—adventure in Ireland. Through Carraroe’s Irish academy, she developed an enduring passion for the language. “I loved learning Gaelic,” she says. “It is important to me to keep this part of Irish culture alive.” 

Heather’s interests further broadened through exciting internships. At Great Smoky Mountains National Park, she became committed to wildlife conservation. “The internship strengthened my desire to protect our wilderness,” she says. Heather also did research at Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Reserve, where she revisited phytoplankton analysis. That work will channel into her Beloit capstone project, a senior thesis.  

As she approaches graduation, Heather enjoys the range of extracurricular opportunities that brought her to Beloit. She is active in Technical Theatre Club, Rowing Club, Outdoor Environmental Club, and volunteers with Girls and Women in Science. These experiences, she knows, will be valuable long after graduation. “The wide range of skills Beloit has given me makes me qualified for a large pool of jobs,” Heather says. What she most values, though, are Beloit’s passionate people. “I love that Beloit students have an unusual combination of interests,” she says. “They are always willing to try new things.”