Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives

Senior Stories

Jenna Gaska

Jenna Gaska was interested in studying both natural science and the humanities in college; as a double major in biology and classics at Southwestern, she was able to do just that. She also had two research internships and became involved in a number of campus organizations, including Circle K International.

In your opinion, what makes Southwestern special? 
The relationships students can build with professors. Every teacher I had was accessible and approachable, whether we were discussing coursework or I was seeking personal advice.  

What do you know now that you didn’t know as a first-year (we’re not talking chemical formulas and such)?
How to relax! Taking a night off to be with the people you love can make getting back to work the next day easier.

Who is the person you’ll miss most?
Dr. Maria Cuevas, associate professor of biology. We worked together in her research lab since the spring of my sophomore year and I had her as a professor for two classes. She has been a true mentor to me and supported me in pursuing my dream of going on to graduate school for a Ph.D. in the sciences.  

What activities or groups on campus were you involved in?
As an officer/member of Circle K International, I created and headed up a project called “Bead the Change” which raised more than $10,000 by selling handicrafts made by Ugandan women. The proceeds were sent back to their village to fund childhood education and provide financial support for orphans and widows.

What’s your favorite memory of the University?
Reading in the Melville Alcove at the Smith Library Center. After I met a big deadline, I loved to go to the library, pick out some new books, and just read for an hour or two.  

What would people be surprised to learn?
I used to be a clogger; my parents were in the Air Force and I lived in Japan for three years where my elementary school mascot was a Siberian Snow Swan; I was home schooled for 5th and 6th grade; and I’ve taken nine years of Latin.

This summer, Jenna took it easy at home in Cibolo (near San Antonio), gathering her energy for grad school. She is now in a molecular biology Ph.D. program at Princeton University.