Ithaca College Will Make You Ready
With a vibrant community, professors who inspire, and the hands-on experience you need to dive into your field with confidence.
When Kacey Deamer was 14, she noticed healthy trees in her neighborhood marked for removal. “There was nothing wrong with them. They just happened to be bothersome to somebody,” Kacey recalls. That was when she realized many people don’t appreciate the planet for what it is.
Kacey decided she could make a difference by investigating and reporting on environmental issues. “I want to share my passion through journalism so that people not only understand the environmental issues at hand, but they’re also emboldened to go out and act on them.”
As a student at IC, Kacey took every opportunity to expand her understanding of the environment and media. She traveled with a class to the United Nations Framework Conference for Climate Change in Cancun, Mexico, to observe climate talks in action. Guided by professors, she landed media internships each year of her college career. She reported environmental news for the Ithacan newspaper and Buzzsaw magazine—and as a senior, she became the first student to be an editor for both.
While researching a story, Kacey emailed Ithaca alumna Kate Sheppard ’06, staff reporter at Mother Jones magazine. Kate became Kacey’s mentor and connected her to an internship opportunity at the magazine. She also encouraged Kacey to apply for the Recharge! retreat held by Focus the Nation. Recharge! brings together rising leaders in the clean energy movement from across the country to learn about and discuss environmental issues.
Kacey was invited to the retreat, and spent an enlightening week visiting a coal plant, wind farm, and dam, climbing a glacier, and speaking with other students who were passionate about environmental issues. “It was one of those experiences that really encourages you to think that a difference can actually be made, that you’re not the only one thinking that something needs to change.”
Kacey plans to continue reporting on the issues after graduation and to further her education in environment and science journalism. The inspiration for the next phase of her environmental education came from her IC class trip to the UN climate change conference. “Somehow scientists are able to communicate and agree, and the politicians can’t make it happen. What I really want to be able to do is bridge that gap. Take the science and translate it so that people understand, and then those readers can push the politicians to make the changes that we need.
“I feel ready to save the planet in some small or large way and to take on the challenge of making people care. It’s not an easy thing to do, but I think I can do it.”
College should prepare you for life after graduation, whether you go into the workforce or—as Elitsa Stoyanova did—enter a prestigious Ph.D. program in developmental biology and embryology. Thanks to three-and-a-half years of actual lab work as an undergraduate at Ithaca College, Elitsa will be able to dive right into serious research as a graduate student.
IC affords science students opportunities that larger institutions tend to reserve for graduate students. “It can be really hard to get into a lab and actually do research and not just wash the glassware,” Elitsa says of her peers’ experiences in programs at other universities. “So a lot of kids who are very talented wind up going to grad school with only a couple of months—maybe a year—of research experience.”
Elitsa worked with assistant professor Ian Woods who’s examining the genetics behind anxiety in zebrafish (the animals share a similar genetic structure to humans). This work could someday lead to better, more nuanced treatments for anxiety and depression.
“Ian has been fantastic. I owe my grad school success to him. He gave me great advice on how to write my personal statement, how to talk to my interviewer, what questions to ask. He has been really insightful about what it is to be a Ph.D. student in these times.”
As a junior, Elitsa gave a presentation at the 245th American Chemical Society national meeting in New Orleans, sharing what she’d learned about enzymes that make bacteria undetectable to host immune systems. She also worked in assistant professor Catherine Malele’s lab—forging a connection that helped Elitsa land a summer internship with the University of Pennsylvania’s Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia.
“I honestly think the entire science faculty [at Ithaca College] is phenomenal. They have all inspired me in a way.”
Elitsa chose Rockefeller University for graduate school because the program let her use her extensive experience right away. Since she’s already versed in basic lab techniques, she can focus on loftier goals. “I want to be able to think on my own and ask the right questions. I want to find a mentor who will give me enough freedom to explore my ideas. I want to be in charge of where the project is going—that is how you learn to be a scientist.”
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