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Linnea Ritchie
More Than I Imagined Seniors reflect on accomplishments and look ahead

​Linnea Ritchie

Graduation year: 2016

Majors: Biology

Minor: Spanish

Activities: Sigma Xi, Martini Swingers, Western Equestrian Team

Internship: I was an intern at Niabi Zoo, summer of 2015. I learned so much about exotic animal care and captive breeding programs.

Post-grad plans: I plan on getting my Ph.D. in genetics/genomics and bioinformatics.

Why Augustana?

I had several family members attend Augustana so the school was always on my radar, but what really drew me in were the excellent biology program and the western equestrian team. I also liked that it was a small school so the ratio of students to teachers was smaller. 

Are you where you thought you'd be four years ago?

Not at all! When I came in as a freshman, I was set on becoming a veterinarian and working with horses all day long. I never really fell out of love with that dream, but through the amazing professors at Augustana, I discovered my love of genetics, and this love took me down a whole new path! 

Who helped you get to where you are now?

The biology professors in general are all amazing people. They are always there for the students. In particular, Dr. Murphy has been my research advisor and mentor through most of my academic career. Dr. Larson and Dr. Wegman-Geedey also went out of their way to help me on many occasions, and their classes were what made me decide to pursue my love of genetics. The professors are truly the best part about Augustana because they are always 100 percent in your corner.

A peak experience?

Definitely my trip to Nicaragua with the JETS program in 2015! Even though at that point I wasn’t pre-vet anymore, I still learned a ton and met so many new people. You definitely learn how to concentrate while you are there! Neutering a dog on a school porch with half of a town watching while music is playing and dogs are winding around your ankles is no easy feat! Not only did this trip strengthen my relationships with my classmates, but I also learned about health care while experiencing another culture. I highly recommend it!

What has surprised you?

The biggest thing I learned was that I LOVE lab work. If you had asked me as a freshman if I wanted to spend my days in a lab culturing bacteria, I would have said no way! Now I can’t think of anything better. I love the challenges of lab work, and I love being able to come up with my own solutions to problems.

How did you use your Augie Choice?

I used it for my Nicaragua 2015 trip, which made it super affordable!

What will you miss the most?

The people and the campus. Being a senior is so bittersweet because we have worked so hard to get here, and we are almost done, but you begin to realize that this is your last class with your favorite professor, or your best friend is moving across the country, or that this will be the last time you see the slough with all of the fall colors. Augustana has basically been my home for four years so I will be very sad to leave. 

Advice for the Class of 2020?

Try everything! This goes for classes as well as clubs! Even if you end up deciding that it isn’t for you, don’t limit yourself. The beauty of a liberal arts education is that you are free to try new things and learn about a variety of subjects. Your Augie experience will be as good as you make it, so go out and meet new people! Take a class totally outside of your major. Join a club or learn a new sport. I had never tried dancing before attending Augustana, and now I am performing in the Martini Swingers Spring Showcase!

“Linnea is an inquisitive and well-rounded person who is enthusiastic about life. I was excited to have Linnea join my research lab after getting to know her in class. Her hard work on a research project has led to a presentation at a national conference. As she begins her graduate work in genetics next year, she will continue to grow, develop and challenge herself. Her most successful days are ahead of her. I look forward to hearing about her future accomplishments!”

— Dr. Kimberly Murphy, assistant professor, biology