My greatest advice is to come into Colgate with an open mind and use the liberal arts curriculum to explore all of your interests. Through my own exploration, I discovered a minor that I never could have predicted — but without which I could not imagine my Colgate experience.Hailey Orff ’24 Scarborough, M.E.
You’re involved in a number of activities. Which one is your favorite?
My favorite involvement on campus is being a member and officer of my sorority, Delta Delta Delta. Since joining this organization, I have shared so many fun memories with my sisters — from our annual Tri-Hop pancake breakfast fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Hospital to playing cornhole in the yard of 84 Broad Street (the Tri Delta house). I know it sounds cliché, but joining Tri Delta has allowed me to meet so many amazing and supportive women, and there is never a dull moment in the Delta house.
Tell us about the mentorship you have received at Colgate.
Throughout my three years and counting at Colgate, I have been able to work alongside Kerri Woods, research technician, laboratory instructor, and director of the Academic STARS Program. She was my first year chemistry lab instructor, and I was her teaching assistant during my sophomore and junior years. Every time you step into her lab — no matter if she’s known you for one day or three years — she will ask you how you’re doing and is always eager to hear about how your week has been so far. She has definitely increased my passion for chemistry, and I am lucky that I have been able to spend so much time working alongside her during my time at Colgate. Not only is she an incredible mentor who strives to do everything she can to make her students succeed, but she is one of the sweetest and friendliest people at Colgate.
Tell us about your experience abroad.
Going into college, I knew that I wanted to study abroad even though the idea of being thousands of miles away from my home and family made me anxious. It was an opportunity that I didn’t want to miss. I decided to join the spring 2023 New Zealand Study Group which studied at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. My experience there was incredible; I had the chance to road trip around the South Island, explore several different beaches and hikes, immerse myself in learning about Māori culture, and even take a trip to the North Island for a few days with some other Colgate students to explore the city of Auckland and a nearby volcanic island. New Zealand has such a wide diversity of nature, and there was something different to see everywhere I went — which is why this country is so beautiful! I was also able to take classes that were specific to New Zealand at my host university, such as a Māori performing arts class, where we learned Māori songs/dances, and a marine mammals class on species that are endemic to New Zealand waters. I wanted to take advantage of learning about different aspects of New Zealand while abroad, and these classes allowed me to do so in addition to my travels.
What would you consider your greatest accomplishment as a student at Colgate so far?
My greatest accomplishment as a student at Colgate so far is becoming a published author during my sophomore year. In the summer of 2021, I had the opportunity to work alongside Professor Krista Ingram of the Biology Department on a faculty-led summer research project titled “SEALNET: Facial recognition software for ecological studies of harbor seals.” With the help of the computer science department, this study focused on developing an automated photo-ID program for harbor seals to non-invasively analyze population characteristics such as abundance and site fidelity. I primarily helped with the fieldwork of the study, which involved photographing harbor seals in the Casco Bay Region of Maine via boat. Eventually, enough results were gathered to generate a research paper, and it was published in Evolution and Ecology in 2022!
What is your favorite place on campus and why?
My favorite place on campus is the grassy area behind Lawrence Hall because there are a couple of great hammocking trees. That spot in particular has a gorgeous view of the sunset overlooking Case-Geyer Library and Taylor Lake as well as some fraternity and sorority houses on Broad Street. Setting up my hammock to watch the sunset is the perfect way to unwind after a long day of classes. However, a close second is the lobby of Wynn Hall. Wynn is my home base as a biochemistry major, so I spend most of my time there. I like to study at the tables in the lobby between classes, which usually ends up with me getting distracted by all of my old professors who walk by and stop to chat.
What advice would you give to future Colgate students?
My greatest advice is to come into Colgate with an open mind and use the liberal arts curriculum to explore all of your interests. When I first arrived at Colgate, I was planning on minoring in psychology, but while taking classes to fulfill my core curriculum requirements, I discovered how much I enjoyed African and Latin American studies (ALST) and decided to switch my minor to African American studies. With a STEM major and a humanities minor, I get to take advantage of the liberal arts curriculum and tailor my education at Colgate to my personal interests. Through my own exploration, I discovered a minor that I never could have predicted — but without which I could not imagine my Colgate experience. I also still have a little space in my schedule to take classes outside of my areas of study, which again allows me to find and explore additional passions like Latin.