Meet the CLAS of 2017: Sciences

Our graduates are not only scientists but leaders in the lab, classroom and across the campus. Some found their passions early in life, while others discovered it after trying other things. These Jayhawks combine their science degrees with language skills, understandings of politics and international relations, and whatever else they need to prepare for a variety of careers beyond KU.  They win national awards. And they leave KU ready to take on the world in medicine, humanitarian relief, academia and environmental conservation.

Abdoulie Njai, bachelor’s in human biology, pre-med concentration

Notable: Abdoulie is a student leader who’s been involved with Student Senate, the Minority Association of Premedical Students, the Phi Delta Epsilon premedical fraternity, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, and the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences’ Equity & Inclusion Leadership Council. He was recognized for his leadership at Homecoming 2016 with an Ex.C.E.L. Award, one of his favorite KU memories. After graduation, he plans to take a year off, then attend medical school.

“As a first-generation college student, I had no idea at first how to find mentors, the resources, and the support I would need to succeed in college. During my time at KU I have been able to find mentors, friends, and opportunities that have challenged and helped me become the person I am today. I have had the privilege during the last four years to meet, work with, and befriend individuals from backgrounds completely different from my own. I have had values, perspectives, and thoughts I’ve grown up with challenged, but this has definitely shaped and forced me to grow and learn how to critically analyze myself. I know that these experiences will prepare me for life after graduation.​”

Abigail (Abby) Schletzbaum, bachelor’s in public administration and global & international studies, minors in geology and mathematics

Notable: Abby was a Truman Scholarship finalist her junior year, in recognition of her leadership in public service. She traveled abroad to Nepal and was witness to the devastating earthquake there in 2015, an experience that shaped her career plans. After graduation, she will study Hindi in Jaipur, India, thanks to a Critical Language Scholarship. She plans to pursue a career in emergency management or humanitarian work.

“KU has given me the opportunity to explore multiple interests of mine and become a well-rounded individual. My diverse coursework has made me informed about how the world works, and my extracurricular involvement during my time at KU has made me a more mature and skillful person. If I hadn’t studied abroad and joined student organizations, I wouldn’t have discovered my dream job. I would advise incoming students to view college as training for their future, and to view volunteering and community involvement as equally important as knowledge gained in the classroom.” 

Wade Henke, bachelor’s in chemistry

Notable: Driven to make the world a better place with new knowledge, Wade is a first-generation college student whose passion and skill for chemistry have led him to excel academically, distinguishing himself in both laboratory work and teaching.

“When I came to the University of Kansas after junior college I had no idea that I wanted to do chemistry. However, I absolutely fell in love with the subject after my first semester of organic chemistry and joining my first chemistry laboratory. As someone who has always just wanted to help people, I have truly grown to see chemistry as the way I can have the biggest positive impact. The most important thing you can do in college is find what you are passionate about and pursue that passion.”

Ruth Heuertz Remmers, master’s in geography & atmospheric science

Notable: Ruth already had two degrees from KU before she returned to college after a 26-year career. Early in her graduate studies, she was balancing both her coursework and spending time with her husband, Bill, who was suffering from prostate cancer. Following her husband’s death in 2013, she formulated a research project concerning perceptions of the environment and tourism in the Altai Republic of Siberia, a popular spot for Russian tourists. She’s applying for a Fulbright English Teaching Award for the 2018-’19 academic year.

“I have grown in my capacity for focus and commitment. I have become more persistent in gaining the knowledge and skills to reach my research goal. I have become more loyal, more forgiving, and less judgmental through interactions with my late husband, Bill Remmers, as his illness progressed while I was in school.

“During the summer of 2015, I visited the Altai Republic where residents and tourists participated in my survey concerning the environment and of tourism. When in February 2017 I defended my M.A. thesis in geography and atmospheric science, my committee rewarded me for my efforts by giving me honors. I worried about my safety in Russia prior to my travel because of the political situation between the United States and Russia. However, during my stay in the Altai Republic, I felt quite safe. I found the people to be very helpful, kind, and big-hearted, and the area to be beautiful. I realized that people in Russia and in the United States are not so different. Although distance, and language make Russia seem unapproachable, politics is what seems to try to keep us apart.”