Juan Manuel Ramirez – Knox College


Can you talk about your experience working on the four-week collaborative Environmental Microplastic Sampling in Freshwater Systems of Knox County?

I had no experience in environmental studies, but I found the subject interesting. I worked alongside two other students and Katherine A. Adelsberger, professor and chair of environmental studies, to investigate possible traces of microplastics in water and sediment samples from Galesburg. During these four weeks, we have become experts in microplastics. Before we started collecting water samples, we did a lot of research and a literature review on microplastics to understand the background. I had a little more trouble with this because I had the least knowledge in this area since I’m more focused on philosophy and psychology. Focusing on environmental studies was alien to me, but learning that basic information, such as how the Galesburg water treatment plant works, was interesting.

What appealed to you the most?

I have trouble with time management. I’m involved in a lot of different things, and doing everything on my schedule is a challenge. I got better over the years, but, especially my sophomore year, I was pushing myself over the edge with everything I was involved in. Learning to better manage this was a significant challenge to overcome. On a smaller scale, in first grade, I wasn’t as confident in my math abilities. However, during my first three years at Knox, I took more math classes. While in class I asked for help from teachers and outside of class I attended private lessons.

What resources have helped you succeed?

The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), TRIO tutoring and visiting professors during office hours are great resources. Arriving at Knox, it was nerve-wracking to ask the teachers for help. As I progressed, I got more used to it. Another resource spoke with my friends. We take classes together because we are in the same field of study. If I’m in trouble, I can go ask them for advice. Having a support group was a big help.

Could you tell us more about the role TRIO played in your Knox experience?

TRIO has been a good social support group. It was helpful to have a support group the week before my first term at Knox as it allowed me to bond with other TRIO students while participating in fun activities and pacing myself. of university life. My team leader was really on top and did a good job. Looking back, I see that TRIO had a big influence on me that first year. I felt like I wanted to pay that back as a TRIO team leader afterwards, so I try to do that for other students and help them in any way I can.

Are there any teachers or experiences that you find particularly impactful?

There are a few stars. Brilliant Distinguished Professor of American History and Professor of History Catherine Denial is one of Knox’s finest professors. I learned a lot from her and she cares. She is really passionate about what she teaches. She wants to help you understand why you should be passionate about history and encourages us to have “wow” moments. She insists that we learn these things and take them with us even after the term is over. She also does her best to bridge any disconnect between student and teacher.

Associate Professor and Chair of Philosophy Brandon Polite is one of my advisors. As a high school student, watching Knox during one of the campus tour days, I attended one of his classes and it let me know that I wanted to attend Knox. Her classes are strongly discussion-based and her teaching style is very laid back. I love the analysis involved in philosophy classes.

What advice would you give future students?

Find something you are truly passionate about. The big advantage of going to a small liberal arts college is that there are a lot of different things you can study outside of your major that expose you to different subjects. There is so much to offer here. Dig in and see what courses are offered at Knox. If there is something that interests you, go ahead. When you do things that interest you, you will have a much better time.

What advice would you give to current Knox students who have similar interests to yours?

Two things. A: Take your time. You have plenty of time to think about what you want to do, not just with the classes here at Knox, but also with your future. When I was in first grade, I planned out my entire four years. Even then, you don’t know what will happen. You don’t want to be directionless, but go with the flow. Second: explore. Explore different courses, organizations and clubs on campus. You may want to join some as a general member or help out as an executive member in others. Go to events happening on campus. Whether it’s a sporting event or a party, get out there and explore whatever piques your interest.

Juan is involved with two cultural organizations, Lo Nuestro and MECh.A., as well as Beta Theta Pi as Risk Manager, and Student Senate as Diversity Chair. Juan also holds a work-study position in the Department of Psychology as Department Secretary.


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