The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh provides a solid base for budding scientists like alumna Kelly Genskow ’13, of Atlanta, Ga., who double majored in biology and chemistry before heading to graduate school. While at UWO, she expanded her interest in medicine by looking into public health.
“When they started that new major here, that’s when I found out more about public health,” said Genskow, who grew up in small-town Suring and graduated with just 47 students in her high school class.
As a first-generation college student, she enjoyed being part of UWO’s University Honors Program, where she felt comfortable in the smaller classes and more tight-knit groups.
Last week, Genskow returned to campus to speak with honors students about her experience at UWO and her success in graduate school.
“I was very involved in the Honors Program all four years,” she said. “It was a pretty heavy impact for me.”
Not only did Genskow serve as vice president and president for the Honors Student Association, she also studied abroad, played on the Rugby Club Team, joined the Alpha Lambda Honor Society and worked with the Habitat for Humanity group.
During her sophomore year, Genskow interned in Vilas County, Wis., where she inspected local hotels and tested water.
Currently, she is a graduate student working on her master’s thesis at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in Atlanta. She is studying how a flame retardant affects the human brain.
“It’s actually nearly done,” Genskow said. “I did my two years of research while in grad school with the toxicology professor, and he specifically works in neurotoxicology.”
Because of the experience she had working in labs at UWO, Genskow was the only student the toxicology professor accepted to work in his lab at Emory.
She also interned at the Center for Disease Control in the Tobacco and Volatiles Branch while attending Emory. She tested the effects of tobacco on the human body and worked with nationwide studies.
Genskow plans to graduate this May and then continue her public health education by joining the Peace Corps for two years. Her assigned location is in Botswana, Africa. “Where I’ve been assigned in Botswana is actually a lot of HIV-related work, because they have the second-highest HIV prevalence in the world,” Genskow said.
While she said she wouldn’t push students to go to graduate school, she said she would encourage them to explore their opportunities. “I would definitely hope that they see they can do exciting stuff [in grad school],” Genskow said.
Genskow said she attributes a lot of her success to attending UWO, where she expanded her horizons and knowledge of public health.
“I’ve certainly always valued the experience I’ve had at UW Oshkosh compared to what I’ve heard from some of my classmates that are in grad school, who went to bigger institutions,” Genskow said. “They don’t have personal interactions with the professors. I did lab research no problem, because there weren’t any grad students to compete with, and other students never had that opportunity to get their hands on real research when they were an undergrad.”
Hear more from Genskow: