In this alumni spotlight, meet Emily Randall, Class of 2016!
How long were you at Post Oak?
Where are you now? (college, working, volunteering, etc.)
I am in my final semester of undergrad at The College of Wooster in Ohio, where I am majoring in geology and minoring in environmental studies.
What are some of your most vivid memories of Post Oak (teacher, materials, events, travel)?
I have a lot of great memories from Post Oak, but I would have to say number one is the teachers. I would not have gotten nearly as much as I did from the school without their mentorship, guidance, and enthusiasm. My internship in paleontology at The Houston Museum of Natural Science from my sophomore through senior year also brings back amazing memories of being able to immerse myself in a discipline that most people do not even learn exists as a possible career path until they get to college. Finally, I would say I have a lot of amazing memories from all the places I was able to visit while at Post Oak, including helping restore historic houses in Jamaica, participating in and helping teach paleontology digs, studying pictographs in west Texas, exploring the history and culture of the city of New Orleans, and taking a whole new look at Houston itself through the lens of cooking and food.
Talk about your transition from high school to college. What was it like starting your new journey at college?
I definitely took a leap by moving across the country to a college where I knew no one, but I think that has made my experience all the more special. I go to a larger school when compared to my high school graduating class of 13, but a relatively small school as far as colleges go with a student body of about 2,000. This smaller campus, with the abundance of activities to get freshmen involved on campus and meeting each other, really helped to ease my transition and help me make a lot of new friends relatively quickly.
What’s been one of your favorite experiences at college or while studying abroad?
That’s a hard question! I have been lucky enough to have so many amazing experiences and visit a variety of new places while at college at Wooster and abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, through the DIS program. However, I have to say one of my favorite experiences was getting to visit Greenland for a week with one of my DIS classes. During this trip, we experienced what it is like on the Greenland Ice Sheet, spending about four hours hiking around in a feels-like temperature of -35 °C (-31 °F) with large spikes on our feet to help us stay upright. We traversed through ice canyons, ice caves, and one of the most amazing landscapes I have ever laid my eyes on, all while at least slightly out of our element and cold no matter how many layers of clothes we had on.
How did your experiences at Post Oak (internships, travel, studies) help prepare you for college?
I would say the biggest things I learned at Post Oak that prepared me for college were the knowledge of how to participate in a seminar; how to give insightful presentations and feel confident speaking to a wide variety of people; and how to write strong papers. These are extremely important skills not only for college but also for one's life after college and, while there is no doubt I have continued to hone these in college, I started out a leap in front of a lot of my peers freshman year because of my time at Post Oak.
What passions and interests did you pursue at Post Oak that you still pursue now? How did being at Post Oak help further your pursuit of these interests?
Paleontology and geology! While in college I have been lucky enough to participate in a variety of research projects and internships as well as present on some of this work at annual geologic conferences. Currently, I am working on my Senior Independent Study, which is part of a larger Keck Geology Consortium project with two advisors and five other undergraduates that is partially funded by the National Science Foundation. Our research focuses on a hippo-like mammal called Coryphodon that lived through a period of rapid global warming about 55.5 million years ago and how they and their environment changed during this interval. This is super interesting because it can give us an insight into how some mammals may respond to future human-caused climate change. This would not have been possible without my time interning in paleontology while at Post Oak, as this experience has opened many doors for me when it comes to paleontology and geology.
How do you see your Montessori education showing up in your life today?
Having a Montessori education has taught me to always be curious, explore what interests me, and keep asking questions. I find myself doing this constantly in my everyday life and it has led to so many interesting opportunities and discoveries. Overall, this thought process has pushed me to go out and explore anything I find interesting just for the pure joy of learning more about it.
If you had to pass along words of wisdom to future Post Oak students, what would you tell them?
Just go out and explore! Try as many new things as you can, this is the best way to learn what really interests you. Visit as many interesting places as you can; Post Oak provides a huge amount of opportunities to travel so take advantage of them. And finally, thank your teachers! They care so much about your success and they are all amazing people who you can learn so much from, well beyond just the subject they teach in the classroom.