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A dual major in biology and environmental science, Katharine served as president of Olivet College’s Sigma Zeta chapter, a national mathematics, computer science and science honors society. In her time there, she presented on an agricultural product called PalisadeEC, a plant growth regulator used on wheat and other grains produced by Syngenta.

“I had originally created the poster as part of my internship last summer,” said Thelen. “In order to present the poster at the national convention, I worked one-on-one with Dr. Marcus Wasilevich to formulate and edit an abstract. By presenting at this year’s convention, it allowed me to gain more experience public speaking and provided an opportunity to discuss agriculture-related topics with non-agriculture audiences, which is rather difficult.”

Thelen accepted a position as a development sales representative with Syngenta, and began her career immediately after graduation in May.

“Sigma Zeta gave me a platform to step up and be a leader, organize events and attend professional meetings,” Thelen added. “Beyond the classroom and other activities, it’s important to get field experience. Whether it’s a paid internship or simply several hours of job shadowing, nothing beats getting out there and experiencing the day-to-day life of the career you are interested in pursuing. Not only does it allow you to see whether or not you actually like it, but it allows you to make contacts within your given industry.”

Thelen was a member of the women’s track and field team, Student Athletic Advisory Council (SAAC), Earthbound, and a resident advisor. She also made the Dean’s List all four years of college.