Kaitlyn Amundsen

Student at the University of Washington


How were you first introduced to STEM?

I remember one time, in elementary school, we had a science lesson in class. The teacher brought out fake caterpillars that would turn into monarch butterflies to model "metamorphosis"—a big word for me in the first grade. To help the caterpillars grow, we made a garden and filled it with mini plants.


What did you want to be when you were younger? What changed that?

I really wanted to be a veterinarian when I was a kid because I grew up with my dog, Rufus, and always had a soft spot for animals. I was the person who would cry watching sad movies with dogs in them, especially Marley and Me. Later, I found out that part of the job of a veterinarian was to put pets down. I could never do that for a career, so I thought of becoming a basketball coach instead. 


Have you ever been treated differently because of your gender in STEM classes or activities? 

I don’t think that I was ever treated differently in STEM classes specifically. In my home life, though, I noticed that my brother was always considered the math brainiac, while I was more so the artistic one in the family. Maybe, this was just because we were interested in different things. Although growing up, I often felt like my brother was smarter than me because of these "stereotypes". I now realize that we’re just smart in different ways, but that is something I had to learn overtime.


Is there a certain experience that made you interested in STEM?

In my freshman year of high school, I tore my ACL in a basketball game. The doctors told me that I wouldn’t be able to play competitively ever again. Honestly, I was quite devastated and depressed at the news—especially since I had been playing for my entire life and even had plans to play in college.

I went to physical therapy sessions for almost a year to recover. Through talking to my therapists, I learned some interesting things about anatomy and how our muscles and bones work together. I even took a Human Biology class at my local community college to further delve into the topic. It took me a long time to get over the fact that I could no longer play competitive basketball but I learned that it wasn’t the end of the world and through my injury, I found a new passion—physiology.


What future careers are you interested in?

I just graduated high school and I’m going into my first year at university, so I’m not sure what I want to do yet. Although, I do know that I want to major in something related to biology and physiology.

And who knows? I might even end up a veterinarian.