Health ecology major is Senior Scholar

5/9/2008 - By: Jill Stockton

The College of Health and Human Sciences will formally recognize its 2008 spring commencement Senior Scholar Jennifer Miceli May 15 at the University’s biannual scholar awards banquet in the Joe Crowley Student Union Ballroom.

Miceli, 22, is originally from California, and she came to Nevada in 2003 during her senior year of high school by way of Tennessee. Miceli has been home schooled since the second grade.

"I cannot believe that my college career is coming to an end,” she said. “It feels like I started at the University just yesterday. After being homeschooled, I was anxious to experience what college would be like. After taking my first chemistry class with Dr. Baglin, I thought, Oh, wow, I am really going to like this!

“Many people associated with public education nervously doubted my ability to thrive in a social academic environment,” Miceli added. “Because of this I was determined to be the best learner I could be throughout my college career, not only to get the most from my education and meet my own standards, but to show others that a homeschooled girl could hold her own.”

After starting University courses, Miceli struggled to identify a major that suited her needs.

“It has taken me a little longer to graduate,” Miceli said. “I started as a nutrition major and then switched to health ecology, journalism, and then back to health ecology. I struggled to find a program that was the right fit for me.

“When I was studying journalism, I was required to take an economics principles class with Federico Guerrero in the College of Business,” she added. “I assumed that Federico was going to react the same way as other professors I had taken a class with had. That is, look at me completely confused when I told them I was studying journalism and health ecology, and then tell me that normally people are not good at both science and writing, implying that I was destined to fail in one of the areas.

“After hearing that I was studying both science and writing, Federico encouraged me to experiment with the different majors, consider the pros and cons, listen to my heart and then make a decision.”

After heeding Guerrero’s advice, Miceli set her sights on a degree in health ecology.

“An open, curious mind always has trouble making choices,” said Guerrero, Miceli’s Senior Scholar mentor and a fellow honoree at the upcoming banquet hosted by the Nevada Alumni Association. “If you look around and see the stereotype of the absent-minded professor, especially in the sciences, and think about the professor that agonizes over choosing the color of a scientific marker for a research project, that is how I perceived Jennifer to have felt at that time.

“She is talented and skilled in a wide array of subject areas,” he added. “Having to choose one was difficult for her. I was pleased she turned to me for guidance.”

Miceli is a member of several honor societies on campus, including Phi Kappa Phi, Golden Key and Delta Epsilon Iota.

She plans to remain in Reno after graduation to pursue a career in fitness training. Miceli is also considering pursuing a graduate degree in exercise physiology or an applied program in promoting fitness. Additionally, she regularly plans and organizes events for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week in February.

“I am certain that Jennifer will be a smashing success,” Guerrero said. “She has incredible character and knows what it takes to succeed. She also is extremely intelligent and mature. When you combine those traits with her sharpness, good sense of humor and her social skills, I think she will be unstoppable.

“I am hoping she will become a great leader of her generation in the state.”

In addition to Micelli, eight other Nevada graduates and their mentors will be recognized at the 6 p.m. Senior Scholar event.


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