Senior combines interests in gender studies and astronomy
"My secret is that I like everything," Amy Weston '10 says with a smile.
A New Hampshire native with a passion for science, Weston has taken every single astronomy course at the College, yet she will graduate with a degree in Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies. Weston jokingly describes herself as a "WGSS major, with a healthy dose of astrophysics."
Before coming to the College, Weston became a published scientist when she and others discovered 12 new baby stars in the galaxy. Weston knew she loved physics and astronomy, but she wanted to use her time in college to explore and try new things.
Weston has definitely been taking advantage of her liberal arts education. "I feel that I have been really encouraged to pursue everything I am interested in, and [I] have felt no pressure to focus on one thing," she says.
Whether it is by writing an opinion piece in the Echo or talking about current issues with others on campus, Weston tries to project the importance of voice and opinion. She is "really grateful for all the people who have been so supportive to [her] at Colby: great professors, great friends and all around wonderful relationships" that have allowed her to expand herself across all areas of study and become an integral part of the student body.
As head of the Bridge Club last year and a constant activist on campus, Weston feels that she now "knows everyone." Her advice for students is to "get involved." She encourages people to stick up for themselves and adds that if they "see something that bothers them [they should] about it. There are plenty of productive ways to deal with unhappiness. Don't just let it go." Weston is currently spending the majority of her time in the observatory working on a project imaging spiral galaxies for the upcoming Colby Undergraduate Research Symposium, which is held at the end of April as a way for students to present their independent research.
At the symposium, Weston will be giving two short talks: one on the gendered politics of space exploration in the 1960s (which combines her expertise on astronomy and women's studies) and another on Vermont's Western Abenaki people and the Vermont Eugenics Project that took place in the 1920s and 1930s. Additionally, she will be presenting a poster on false color imaging of spiral galaxies at the College's Collins Observatory.
Sound impressive? Next year, Weston will pursue her passion for astronomy at NASA, working on "Project Piper, to figure out what happened in the first 10-34 seconds after the Big Bang," she says. She saw the posting on Colby Connect and decided to apply as a long shot.
After submitting her application, Weston was shocked to get a call from the chief engineer of the Project Piper program, who told her that she had "quite the resume." Taken aback, she responded, "You really think so?" Weston says that she "felt hired even before the interviews were over."
The program is based in Goddard, Maryland, with branches in New Mexico and Australia. Weston is both "thrilled and nervous" to start her new job as an engineer, simply because she is not entirely sure what to expect. "My childhood dream was to be an astronaut. Why give up now?"