Before she became a double major in mathematics and biochemistry, junior Katherine Aney of Rochester, Minnesota had no idea how big of a role science would play in her life. But all of that changed when she talked to a professor from Gustavus.
“I can pinpoint the exact moment when I fell in love with the biology and the human genome.” Katherine said. “I was talking to Professor Pam Kittelson and she told me that our DNA was the exact same for every cell in our body from our hair cells to our brain cells to our heart cells. At first I didn’t believe her, I couldn’t believe her! But this was a turning point for me in my education, and quite honestly, my life. It sparked a curiosity that still burns in my belly today.”
As Tri-Beta Vice President and Women’s Tennis athlete, Katherine is what her friend Erica Powers describes as “the poster-child for upholding the Gustavus values.”
“She demonstrates excellence in the classroom and on the tennis court,” Powers said. “She is involved in the community by supporting her classmates, friends and teammates and always reaching out to someone in need. Katie demonstrates justice by never giving up in her desire for gender equal rights, and recognizing women in the scientific community. Katie is not afraid to spend her time volunteering or helping out a organization, on or off campus, and she often does things without a reward or having to be asked. Katie’s faith is rooted in her upbringing and she shows this everyday with how much she values her relationships with her siblings, parents and close friends.”
Katherine’s and Powers’ friendship formed like many here at Gustavus, during their first year. As neighbors, hockey teammates, and research buddies, they became close friends.
“Some down time activities that Katie and I enjoy are painting, listening to disney music, studying and venting about our busy lives over ice cream,” Powers said. “Katie is the most genuine and thoughtful person that I know, and I consider it a privilege to be considered her friend. Her dedication and passion are the reason I know she will be successful in whichever path she chooses in her future and with her, the sky’s the limit, and I can’t wait to see how high she climbs.”
Outside of the laboratories, you can typically find Katherine at the tennis courts where she’s built many fond memories.
“In the match to win the MIAC season title during my freshman year,” Katie said. “The score was tied and I was the last match playing. I had lost the first set 0-6 so clearly things were not going well out there. I ended up winning the second set 7-6 and then closed the match out 10-8 in the tiebreak. I still remember my teammates lined up cheering their hearts out and the way I performed when I surrendered myself to the energy of the team. This ‘we before me’ attitude is an incredible part of this college and I feel very fortunate to be surrounded by the culture Gustavus fosters.”
Friend and coach Jon Carlson appreciates Katherine’s level of determination.
“She is one hundred percent caring and effort,” Carlson said. “Nobody tries harder than Katie in everything. She knows how to chill and have fun; but when it’s time to study or play tennis, she has an amazingly high level of focus and effort level. An outstanding example to others.”
Coach Carlson also believes that Katherine has a gift for humor and that “everyone’s day gets a little better if they have a chance to run into her. Not many people on the planet like that.”
As the end of the her third year approaches, Katherine starts preparing for the future.
“After I graduate,” Katherine said. “I will go to graduate school for biochemistry, but I may take a year off to travel, read and write. Eventually I would like to be involved in the realm of cancer clinical trials focused specifically on childhood cancer.”