Student Features

An Interview with Myrna Hutcherson
Myrna Hutcherson
Myrna Hutcherson
Ever since she was a little kid, Myrna Hutcherson has been asking questions. That curiosity is finally paying off. Hutcherson is a meteorology student at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, Ca. Last year, she was chosen for the MS PHD's program. MS PHD's is sponsored by NASA. It stands for "Minorities Striving and Pursuing Higher Degrees of Success." As part of the program, Hutcherson spent a week in Washington, D.C. She went to a science meeting, listened to experts, and visited NASA buildings. During the past two summers, Hutcherson did research at Penn State University. She wrote about using tree rings to study past climate. Soon, she would like to transfer to Penn State and get a degree in the Earth sciences.

Earth Explorers: How did you become interested in science?

Hutcherson: When I was a child my favorite question was "Why?" I wanted to know about the world. I wanted to know why the sky is blue? Why did people get sick? Why did someone go to the moon? My parents couldn't answer all of my questions. So they would take me to the library and have me find out the answers on my own. Then, when my questions were answered, I could come back and tell them. I really enjoyed that. It made me want to know more and more. As I've grown to an adult, I've kept my desire to know about what's going on in the science world.

Earth Explorers: What do you like best about your studies?

Hutcherson: I really like the challenges of my studies. It's great to know that I'm able to do something I never thought I was capable of doing. I love all of it -- the math, the physics, all of it. I also love the work that I've done the past two summers. I've learned so much about tree rings and climate. I'm really thrilled by what I've learned. I had no idea that you could recreate past climate records by looking at the widths of tree rings.

Earth Explorers: What subjects in school have helped you the most?

Hutcherson: The subjects that I really enjoyed were math, science and English. I'm really grateful to my high school math and science teachers for their dedication and encouragement. I'm also grateful to my English teachers who tested me in spelling, writing and grammar. I've come to realize that communication is very important in the field of science.

Earth Explorers: What are your career goals?

Hutcherson: I want to be a research meteorologist. I want to study past climates. My goal is to work for the government. I would also like to work at a college or university. I want to be able to mentor women and girls with an interest in math and science.

Earth Explorers: Who are your role models?

Hutcherson: One of my role models is a physics teacher who encouraged me when I was unable to encourage myself. I had not taken physics before and was a bit scared. My teacher helped me to see that I could do it, and I did. I also admire my parents. My parents did not have the same educational opportunities that I did. They did well for themselves with limited education. I'm very proud of my parents.

Dan Stillman, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies