“Looking back, I see that Adelphi changed my life in a lot of ways. Due to the small class size, I was able to develop personal relationships with faculty, which allowed me to participate in ways that I would not have been able to had I attended a larger institution.”
Member of Adelphi University’s 10 Under 10
STEM Initiatives Program Director, Long Island Children’s Museum“Looking back, I see that Adelphi changed my life in a lot of ways. Due to the small class size, I was able to develop personal relationships with faculty, which allowed me to participate in ways that I would not have been able to had I attended a larger institution.”
Claire Flynn ’12 has advice for current Adelphi students based on her own experience. “Study and pursue things that you are interested in,” she said. “As you do, related opportunities will present themselves that you could not have imagined.”
The STEM Initiatives Program Director of Long Island Children’s Museum and, most recently, selected as one of this year’s National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions Grosvenor Teacher Fellows, Flynn could not have predicted where she would be today when she first enrolled at Adelphi.
What attracted her to the University was its small class sizes, the opportunity to have more personal relationships with her professors, and all the Honors College had to offer. “It was important to me that I had the opportunity to take challenging classes that were outside of my majors and be a part of that learning community,” she said.
She majored in both French and biology. “I always thought that if you studied biology you became a doctor,” she said. Not interested in pursuing medicine, she joined Department of Biology Professor and Chair Dr. Andrea Ward’s functional morphology lab her freshman year. “As I developed the skills I needed to work on my projects…Dr. Ward allowed me to have ownership over my work and really pushed me to do more than I thought I was capable of,” she said. “Under her guidance, I gained knowledge and experience that have not only helped me in my study of science, but that have allowed me to succeed in many aspects of my life.”
While she was very interested in her research, Flynn was still unsure by her senior year whether or not she wanted to pursue her PhD after Adelphi. Dr. Ward encouraged her to take some time to think about it.
Flynn applied for and was awarded a prestigious Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to teach in France for the 2012-2013 school year.
While in France, the Fulbright Scholar missed doing research and applied to Fordham University for her master’s degree in ecology and evolution. During this educational experience, she was exposed to guest speakers who spoke about their careers outside of academia. “Many of them were from places like zoos, aquariums, gardens, and museums and they all spoke of ‘informal education,’ a term I had never heard of before,” she said. “Though I had been a consumer of informal educational experiences my whole life, I didn’t realize that you could have a job in that field.”
After graduating, Flynn started volunteering at the Long Island Children’s Museum (LICM) and not long after was hired to work on the museum’s STEM programming.
Today, in her role as STEM Initiatives Program Director, she is one of the lead teachers for the Westbury STEM Partnership; heads an afterschool program for at-risk middle school students; mentors a group of teenage volunteers in developing programming on environmental sustainability for museum visitors; and develops and teaches science workshops. She initiated the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project at LICM, a citizen science project to monitor milkweed habitat usage by monarch butterflies. She also implements professional development for teachers, parents, and LICM staff. This school year she is starting a new afterschool program for girls in grades 8 through 10 that is focused on developing STEM skills and becoming self-advocates.
Her commitment to education has not gone unnoticed, and it continues to create new opportunities for herself. As a 2019 National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions Grosvenor Teacher Fellow, she will be traveling in November to South Georgia, the Falkland Islands, and Antarctica to enhance her knowledge with hands-on, field-based experiences which she will bring back for the benefit of her students, colleagues, and community.
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