The opportunity to explore different fields of study and participate in meaningful experiential learning opportunities helped lead Erin Radermacher '20 to earn degrees in mathematics and physics.
"I was unsure what to major in as a first-year as I was torn between psychology and physics," Erin said. "I was fortunate to have a psychology externship following that first year, and while I was able to observe an autism program, therapy session, do general office work, and function as a behavioral therapist for a weeklong camp, I came to realize I wanted to pursue physics."
The summer after her sophomore year, Erin did research on campus with Dr. Cole in the physics department. After her junior year, she had an REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) at the University of Colorado Boulder.
Erin based her SIP (Senior Individualized Project) on her time in Colorado, where she worked at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. Her project in space physics was with Dr. Maria Usanova and was titled "Plasma Wave Observations During Geomagnetic Storms with MMS'', an observational study of plasma waves in the magnetosphere using data from NASA's Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission (a satellite mission). Erin completed her SIP with Dr. Cole and presented a poster session at the American Meteorological Society Meeting.
"The on and off-campus research I was able to do was the most important experience I had at K," Erin said. "It increased my experience level and gave me a better idea of what I wanted to do in the future. I was also able to apply what I had been learning in class and learn even more about physics. It also provided me with a lot of support and confidence in myself and my abilities."
In addition, Erin studied abroad in Strasbourg, France, during the spring term of her sophomore year, an opportunity that allowed her to travel to six additional countries outside of France.
After graduating in June, Erin has accepted a position in technical solutions at Epic Systems in Madison, Wisconsin.
A native of Park Ridge, Illinois (Maine Township South High School), Erin contributed significantly to the Hornet swimming and diving program during her four years. She capped off her senior year with All-MIAA honors after finishing second in the 100 and 200 Freestyle events at the MIAA Championships. She was also a member of two top-three relay teams and was twice named MIAA Swimmer of the Week. Erin also earned MIAA Academic Honor Roll honors all four years.
The experience of competing at Kalamazoo College is a unique opportunity, according to Erin.
"The thing that stands out about athletics at Kalamazoo College is that you can be an athlete, but still do everything else that you want to do," she said. "You can excel academically, have internships or externships, study abroad, be in clubs, be a part of theatre, have part-time jobs, etc. If you want to do something, more likely than not, you can find a way.
"As a student-athlete, I learned to lead, become more confident, deal with failure, ask for help from friends and teammates, stay motivated, and work hard. All of these things will carry over into my job and anything else that I may do. The support I received from the athletic department and my coaches was amazing. Both of my coaches, in particular, stood by my side, pushed me, and helped me become who I am today. They cared about me as more than an athlete, they cared about me as a student and as a person."
Erin is incredibly grateful to the faculty members at K.
"Every professor that I had has contributed so meaningfully to my experience at K," she said. "I thank all of them, although I am not sure how to do so sufficiently. I'm especially grateful to those who have taken an interest in me outside of class, and for my advisor, Josh Moon, for always encouraging me to step outside of my comfort zone, for always believing in me, and for all of the fun chats and good snacks."