Kathryn Barr

What education have you taken?

I am currently taking my bachelor of science. I’m doing a four year biology major with a geography minor.

What accomplishments are you proud of?

I haven’t won any awards in university, but in high school I graduated as an outstanding artist. I did a lot of volunteer work as a child and teenager with the animal shelter in my home town. In Brandon I volunteered with the “Brandon Latina Woman’s Association” for two years, where I was involved in helping Latin American women learn English and helping them get established in Brandon. I also did a bit of volunteer work with the humane society, and volunteered as a student leader at Brandon University in 2013.

Tell me about yourself / your background / your history.

Well lets see… I was born in 1992, in White rock, BC. When I was 2 years old my family and I moved to Chile, which is where I grew up. My home town is Iquique, which is a coastal desert city “closer” to the equator, so imagine my surprise when I encountered seasons. I remember the first time I saw the leaves change colour, I thought it was the most beautiful thing ever, until the first time I saw snow fall. I couldn’t believe that it actually sparkled like in the movies. I came to Brandon University, because this is were my parents went to school. They met in a geology course, there is actually still a picture of them on the wall on the second floor in Brodie Building.

So a little about me? Well first of all, I am fascinated about the world and how everything works. I love science, and knowing why things do what they do, but I also love art in all its forms. I also love the outdoors and being in nature, just as much as staying at home and playing video games. There are so many aspects to my life that I cannot feel defined by anyone of them on their own. I think most of all I am a very dedicated daydreamer, which might be why in high school I was told not to pursuer science, since my grades were not great in biology. I did it anyways, because I wasn’t about to let someone else tell me what I could do, but it definitely hurt my view of my abilities. When I arrived at Brandon University, I had no idea what I was doing, but I had the fortune to meet wonderful people who had faith in me, even when I didn’t. I still remember talking to a professor after class one day, and he never even doubted that I was going to do great, when it never even crossed my mind that I could. This triggered a change in my mind, and I started thinking “maybe I can do great”. Needless to say my grades greatly improved after that. I also remember applying for a research grant in my second year and being turned down, but I was given chance by a professor to work with her regardless, which was an experience that changed my life. I am definitely fortunate.

How did you become interested in your field of study?

When I was 17 years old I got pneumonia really bad, and was in bed for a month. During this time I watched a lot of animal planet, and national geographic. All of a sudden it just came to me, and I knew I wanted to do that, I wanted to do research on animals. That isn’t a very “common” career path in Chile, and possibilities where very slim, so I decided I had to come to Canada.

 What is your philosophy in life?

This is a hard question to answer, since through time I have changed as a person, and keep changing every day. This includes my outlook on life and my understanding of it. If I have to choose something that has stayed with me through the years, it is that if there is something about or in your life that makes you unhappy, do something about it. It is never too late for a change. Also, at some point we must take responsibility for our lives, and the decisions we make. Not every decision we make will be a good one, but no one makes only “good decisions”. Learning to take responsibility, and to forgive yourself is essential. It is also important to be kind as often as possible, because everyone else is fighting a battle we know nothing about, just as they don’t know about your personal battle. Finally, that love is never a waste of time, if it is loving your pet, your family, your partner, or a friend. The time we spend sharing nice, kind feeling is always precious, even if that feeling changes over time. Human memory is funny in the sense that we remember the bad so much easier than the good, so we must try a little harder to focus on the good times.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

In the future I see myself doing research on animals, I’m not sure where or on what exactly, but that’s OK. As long as I’m doing what I love I’m sure I will have a great life. Maybe someday I will open a wildlife rehabilitation centre.

Nominator’s comments

Kathryn is a straight-A senior student, and she is active in the international student group on campus. Kathryn is an extremely pleasant person. She speaks fluent Spanish and fluent English, and she was raised in Chili.