St. Saviour Senior Is Science Star

September 27, 2012 Denise Romano
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Catherine Walker is a senior at St. Saviour’s High School and a budding scientist.

The 17-year-old Flatbush resident is one of 40 students in the metropolitan area, enrolled in the Science, Research and Mentoring program at the Museum of Natural History. During her junior year, she attended classes after school, two days a week, studying genetics, conservation, bio-diversity, evolution and anthropology.

Walker spent her summer learning hands-on laboratory skills and is currently meeting her scientist mentor, a physical anthropologist, who she will work with two days a week afterschool for the remainder of the year.

Walker has always been surrounded by science. “My dad has worked in science since I was four. He worked in the New York Hall of Science and now is at the Museum of Natural History,” she said. “I just went there a lot. Science has always been my favorite subject.”

The program Walker is enrolled in is sponsored by the National Science Foundation and also offers free tutoring sessions and college tours.

“They pay for everything, including hotel and transportation,” Walker said. “I already saw six colleges. [The program] has all these benefits, it looks good on your transcript and it’s fun; all good stuff.”

Walker will likely apply to Boston, Northeastern and Brown Universities; McGill University in Montreal and her “dream school,” the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

“I am thinking of doing bio-medical science. I like to do science in relation to people and how it can help with medical issues and infectious diseases,” Walker said. “I want to get lab experience being an actual scientist. I don’t know if I want to be a researcher or work with people directly.”

All of the mentors in the program are established scientists and Walker will study hominids with hers. “They are not only teachers, but the real deal,” she said. “I can nerd out.”

Besides her rigorous work schedule, Walker is part of St. Saviour’s history club and Gaelic society. She also enjoys writing short stories and baking.

She encourages her peers who are interested in science to apply to the program. “You really have to work, but they put a lot of trust in you,” she said. “You can’t do it just because it looks good on your transcript. It’s challenging and fun but really rewarding. It’s cool to get that ID badge.”

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