When Katelynn Haygood talks about making a positive impact on the environment through science, it’s not just a lot of hot air.
“I am passionate about reducing the overall carbon footprint of urban cities through fauna (plants),” said Haygood, a Schoolcraft College graduate who is pursuing a degree in Environmental Studies at Wayne State University.
“I hope that I can use my degree to go into conservation research and become a conservation scientist. I want to accomplish a way to lower the CO2 amount humans produce and improve the overall air quality through bio-engineering plants.”
This impressive goal had its start at Schoolcraft College. Haygood, who was born in Detroit and grew up in Livonia, wanted to earn an Associate Degree before transferring to a four-year school.
“(Going to Schoolcraft College) also gave me time to figure out what I want to study and do in the future,” she said. “Having the freedom to take classes that aren’t on a linear path is very encouraging when I was a teenager. I didn’t know what I wanted to do and taking a class that interested me helped me figure it out.”
Haygood was careful to balance her job with her studies. She started at Schoolcraft College in the fall of 2016 and graduated in the winter of 2020 with her Associate in Science Degree.
“When I was going to Schoolcraft, I only went part time to balance it,” she said. “I always put school first to not let my grades slip, so if that meant I had to work less hours then I would. Now that I go to school full time at Wayne state, I only work weekends. I still will request time off near midterms in order to study hard. My family is very supportive of my education and help any way they can.”
In addition to her family’s support, Haygood appreciated the support she received at Schoolcraft College.
“There is a huge support staff at Schoolcraft,” she said. “The professors were always there to talk to me when I needed help and lead me to opportunities that later would help me end up where I am today.”
One of those opportunities included the UROP Fellowship at the University of Michigan. UROP stands for Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program. It’s a year-long academic experience that engages students in research, scholarly and creative inquiry.
English Professor Helen Ditouras helped Haygood make the connection.
“UROP is a wonderful opportunity for students to work in a prestigious setting like U of M to advance their research goals,” Professor Ditouras said. “Several of my students have completed the fellowship over the years and have had overwhelmingly positive experiences.”
Haygood agrees. She attended during the summer of 2019.
“It was a great experience; I am so grateful for professor Ditouras for telling me about it and writing me a letter of recommendation,” Haygood said. “Due to the pandemic everything was virtual so it was a little isolating, but U of M tried hard to make everyone feel welcome with Zoom meetings and weekly activity.
“The program helps transition students from a community college to a university. It also gets them experience in the career path they might want. All the professors there made a huge impact by guiding me and being great mentors.
“I even came back that winter just as a mentor to help other UROP students adjust to the virtual experience. It was that experience that led me to my grant now with Wayne State doing research.”
And it all started with her hometown college.
“I hope more people take advantage of the opportunities at Schoolcraft, whether it’s trying a new interest or taking advantage of all the programs the institution has to offer,” Haygood said. “It can open more paths than you are aware of at the time. Schoolcraft is a great place to get out of your comfort zone and find yourself and have so much support behind you.”