Adelphi University Commencement 2011

Meet the graduates

Claire Flynn '12
Claire Flynn '12

What is your hometown?
Mineola, New York




B.S. / B.A.

Double Major: Biology and French


Honors College

Why did you choose to attend Adelphi?

I wanted a school that wasn't too far from home, but where I could still live away. Small class sizes and individual attention from professors was extremely important to me. I didn't want there to be an overwhelmingly large student body as is found at some state universities. Adelphi's Honors College was also a big draw for me; their focus on creating a well-rounded and challenged student was very attractive.

When and how did your interest in your major develop?
I have always been interested in science from the time that I was a little kid, but I knew that I wanted to be a Biology major after taking Advanced Placement Biology my senior year in high school. It was one of the most difficult classes I had taken up until that point, but I really grew as a student as I learned how to understand the difficult material. As for my interest in French, going into college I knew that I wanted to double major. I had started taking French my freshman year of high school and from the first day became enthralled with the sound of the language as it rolled off of my teacher's tongue. As I entered Adelphi, I knew that I wanted to not only deepen my knowledge of the language itself, but also of the culture and history of France.

Did you complete any noteworthy internships or study abroad programs?
I was fortunate to have two summer internships throughout my college career. The first was a National Science Foundation sponsored Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at North Carolina State University during the summer of 2010. I worked in Dr. Robert Kelly's lab on a second generation biofuel production project. My task for the summer was to purify and clone genes from a hyperthermophilic bacterium that was able to efficiently break down cellulose from plants to produce hydrogen and ethanol. For the summer of 2011, I received a Horace McDonell Fellowship to continue conducting the research I perform in Dr. Andrea Ward's lab during the school year. In Dr. Ward's lab I study the kinematics and muscle utilization patterns of two distinct escape responses in South American lungfish.

Describe your experiences at Adelphi with the faculty and/or your classmates.
I have found the faculty at Adelphi to be extremely welcoming. Both Dr. Ward (with whom I conduct research) and Dr. Nicole Rudolph (my French advisor) have had tremendous influence on me, and their classes have been the ones that I have most enjoyed. I asked Dr. Ward if I could join her Functional Morphology lab after having her for Biology 111 and, through my experiences in her research lab, I was introduced to a whole different world. I had always heard about scientists conducting research, but had never really given much thought to what that meant. Dr. Ward gave me the skills necessary to be able to ask my own questions and figure out ways of answering them. As for Dr. Rudolph, I have taken seven French classes with her, and she is one of the most brilliant people I know. Although I took French in high school, I came into college with a shaky foundation in the language. Dr. Rudolph took the time to sit down with me and go over composition after composition so that I would understand grammar mistakes that I was making, and would discuss better sentence structure or ways to improve my vocabulary. Her classes are among the most difficult ones that I have taken, but have also been the ones in which I have learned the most.

Did you work while going to school? Please elaborate.
The summer between my freshman and sophomore years I was asked to join the staff at the Learning Center as a Chemistry tutor. After tutoring for a year, I also became a recitation instructor in both General Chemistry and Genetics, in addition to tutoring in Biology and Chemistry classes (specifically: Biology 111, Chemistry 111, Organic Chemistry, Genetics). This past year, I was also given the responsibility of completely redesigning the Chemistry Recitation.

What accomplishment are you most proud of during your college career?
I am most proud of the service trips that I was able to be a part of through the Newman Club. In January 2011 I went to Misahualli, Ecuador, a small village in the Amazonian Basin. Throughout the week that we were there, the group of students from Adelphi and Hofstra had the opportunity to spend each morning going out into the surrounding communities, celebrating Mass with the people of Ecuador and learning about their culture. The afternoons were spent in the convent located down the road from the hostel in which we were staying. We cleaned their whole church, ripped up their driveway and repaved it, and repainted their chapel. Before we left for Ecuador, we were unsure of the conditions where we would be staying but prepared for the worst. We braced ourselves for a week with limited access to showers and food, and packed our sleeping bags to sleep on the floor. Our accommodations ended up being more than we could have asked for.

Although I was nervous about the language barrier since I don't speak a word of Spanish, I was able to communicate with the people just through songs, smiles, and a few phrases that I picked up while I was there. Going on this mission trip not only helped me to grow in my faith, but also exposed me to a way of life I had never seen before. We were with the poorest of the poor. The adults were often missing most of their teeth, the kids had no shoes, and everyone's clothes were filled with holes. To learn about the culture of South America and to be given the eye opening experience of absolute poverty, and yet absolute happiness, was priceless.

Plans after graduation? Please elaborate.
I applied for a Fulbright to teach English in France for the next year and was chosen as a finalist, but if I don't get the award I am going to take a year to decide whether or not I want to pursue my PhD in either Comparative Biology or Conservation Biology.

What are your aspirations / dream job?
While I am uncertain of what career I would like to pursue, my dream job would combine my love French and Biology.

What types of extracurricular activities are you involved with?
I am a member of the Biology and Chemistry clubs as well as the Biology Honor Society. I am also the Vice-President of the Newman Club.

How do you handle such a full schedule with a rigorous academic curriculum?
Although having two majors meant that my workload was heavy throughout all eight semesters, I was better able to handle such an endeavor due to the nature of my academic interests. Because the classes I was taking for Biology, French, and the Honors College were all so different, it was almost as if doing work for one gave my mind a break from thinking about the others. I also learned very quickly how to best organize my time so that I was not rushing to do assignments at the last minute, and still had time to have a social life outside of academics.

Do you have any hobbies?
I am an avid reader; you can always find me with a book in my bag. I love yoga, playing the piano, and traveling.

What awards / honors have you received?
I have been on the Dean's List every semester, have received numerous scholarships (Presidential Scholarship, National Science Foundation TOP Scholarship, Pesselier Vazquez French Scholarship), have received several fellowships (Biotechnology Research Assistant at North Carolina State University, Horace McDonell Fellowship at Adelphi University), and am a member of Beta Beta Beta (the Biology Honor Society).

Other Comments:
I have been actively involved in research since the beginning of my sophomore year. I have had, and will continue to have, numerous opportunities to present my research at a number of conferences:

    Adelphi University Research Conference, April 2010 (poster presentation)

    North Carolina State University Undergraduate Research Symposium, August 2010 (poster presentation)

    Adelphi University Research Conference, April 2011 (poster presentation)

    National Conference for Undergraduate Research at Weber State University (Ogden, Utah), March 2012 (poster presentation)

    Adelphi University Research Conference, April 2012 (oral presentation)

    The World Congress of Herpetology (Vancouver, Canada), August 2012 (oral presentation)

    I have also had opportunities to go on mission trips abroad through the Newman Club:
    Misahualli, Ecuador (January 2011)
    Castries, Saint Lucia (January 2012)

This page was last modified on July 25, 2012.
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