Leah Thompson – Staff Writer
This week’s Gustie of the Week is none other than Junior Geena Zebrasky who is double majoring in both biology and geography. Zebrasky is from Columbus, MN, a small town near Forest Lake, and has been a lifelong lover of plants and insects.
When asked, “Why Gustavus?” they revealed that they had come here by accident and had actually applied after the deadline. However, they don’t regret their decision and love “Meeting so many new, fun and cool people who really care about campus. Plus, the professors are nice and really care about their students,” Zebrasky said.
Zebrasky is very involved on campus and is a co-chair for the Diversity Leadership Council (DLC), on the executive board for Building Bridges, and is a Writing Center tutor and team lead. One thing that is very important to them is building community and a sense of belonging, both on and off campus.
“Don’t be afraid to go to campus events; try to get involved in a student organization. Many orgs struggle with numbers and really want you there, plus you can meet new people. Campus events are really helpful to understanding campus life and learning what you’re interested in,” Zebrasky said.
This year has been an exciting year for Zebrasky, as they’ve worked on research, declared a second major, and helped with the revival of campus engagement through their work with DLC. This past year DLC has been able to restore funding to student organizations and help with planning and promoting various events.
Biology has always been an interest of theirs, especially since they love being outside, whether it’s gardening or exploring.
The interest in geography heightened in college after reading more about human geography and its social processes. Particularly, “How much power humans have in shaping the world and what the world shows us,” Zebrasky said.
As an avid insect lover, Zebrasky obviously has a favorite, which happens to be ants. Ants are very interesting to them because they are a large part of the ecosystem and help with nutrient cycling; so the ants take vegetation from the environment, but they’re also a source of food for other animals. Not only do ants play a large role in the ecosystem, but they have a complex social structure.
Zebrasky came to the conclusion that the Solanaceae is their favorite plant family. This plant family includes tomatoes, potatoes, and many peppers. But they also think the Solanaceae are cool because they “Provide food for millions of people, but also contain some of the most poisonous, toxic plants” Zebrasky said.
Junior Mad Chase met Zebrasky during her freshman year at Gustavus through Building Bridges and the Writing Center.
“Geena is such a brilliant and radiant human and I am so lucky to be friends with her. I could truly listen to her talk about anything for hours— she is so passionate and could make anyone fall in love with anything” Chase said.
After this semester ends, Zebrasky will be heading out to Oregon for a research internship with wasps. They will return to Gustavus in the fall to finish out their senior year.
When Zebrasky graduates in the spring of 2023, they plan on taking a gap year to prepare for the GRE, a standardized test that is required for entry into many graduate programs in the United States. After the GRE exam, they plan on going to graduate school for something related to Biology.
In 10 years, they see themself with two cats and a dog, and working in a career field that personally fulfills them. They want to work with different people and communities because they like seeing other people thrive and want to be a part of that journey.
To those who are currently struggling with classes or other college-related issues, “Don’t commit to too much, and don’t be afraid to ask for help and extensions from professors. Try to find a balance between work, school and friends while also finding time to focus on yourself. And remember, it’s okay to not know what you want to do,” Zebrasky said.
As the next school year inevitably comes, Zebrasky is hoping that there will be “more engagement with student events” as things seem to be getting back to where they were when they first started at Gustavus.
Zebrasky has done so many things while at Gustavus and will continue to do amazing things afterward. Being able to highlight their success and accomplishments is important and being Gustie of the Week will help with that.