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Graduating senior shares journey of growth at Commencement

Anika Bratt 10 switched career goals and found a passion for research at St. Kates.
Anika Bratt 10 switched career goals and found a passion for research at St. Kates.
Tracy Baumann

When Anika Bratt enrolled at St. Kate's four years ago, she was set on pre-med coursework and becoming a doctor. After her second semester of general biology courses — in which she participated in some ecological research related to St. Kate’s new residence halls, adjacent to the campus woods — she began to think more about environmental science.

On December 16, Bratt will speak on behalf of the graduates at St. Catherine University’s 2010 winter Commencement. She will share how St. Kate's has "taught me to think for myself and seek my own truths." Bratt was selected earlier this month by a joint faculty, staff and student committee.

Bratt, who will receive her Bachelor of Arts degree in biology at the graduation ceremony, is an Antonian Scholar and a STEM Scholar, in addition to being a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Beta Beta Beta (Biology honors society) and Sigma Delta Pi (Spanish honors).

She spent two summers in northern California—at the Heath and Marjorie Angelo Coast Range Reserve—conducting stream ecological research with Biology Professor Jill Welter. It was here that Bratt “fell in love with the process of science and the pursuit of new knowledge,” she says.

The stream research became the focus of her Antonian Honors project, which she presented in early December. Bratt also discussed the research data at three conferences, including the Ecological Society of America's national conference in Albuquerque during summer 2009.

Last fall, Bratt collaborated with Professor Welter again. This time as her teaching assistant for “The Reflective Woman,” one of St. Kate’s core courses for first-year students.

Bratt spent the January-term of her sophomore year studying Spanish in Mexico. (She has a minor in the language.) Italy was next on her list; she took a classical studies course there earlier this year.

“I’m absolutely glad I chose St. Kate’s,” says Bratt, who hails from Bird Island, Minn. “St. Kate’s has allowed me to academically thrive and become a global citizen.”

Extracurricular activities are equally important to Bratt. She co-chaired the Student Senate Organizational Affairs committee for five semesters and played a key role in the Senate’s Environmental Issues Task Force. She was among the students responsible for President Andrea J. Lee, IHM signing the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment in November 2008.

She also sang with the St. Catherine Choral Society and was a new student orientation leader and science tutor at St. Kate’s O’Neill Center for Academic Development.

So, what’s next for this Katie?

“I am applying to Ph.D. graduate programs in ecology and bio-geochemistry,” she says. “And in February, I will be working as a field technician in Trinidad on ecological research.”

Bratt's dream job: “To teach and conduct research at a liberal arts institution.”

Dec. 8, 2010 by Pauline Oo

See also: Students