Entomology undergraduate student found her footing and flourished during a global pandemic

Kelly Holsinger talks about collecting insects at a young age and how remote schooling benefited her and gave her the opportunity to attend campus clubs for the first time.

A picture of an ant on a flower with a headshot of Kelly in the upper left-hand corner.

Name: Kelly Holsinger

Hometown or state or country: Detroit, Michigan

Future study or career plans: Unsure, hopefully something with many ants.

What is the best selling point about an entomology major that you would like others to know?

Entomology degrees are, in my opinion, one of the most versatile field biology focuses. Because entomology is so interdepartmental in nature, there are many ways to branch out into other fields, which gives the most opportunities. You can take an entomology degree to the lab, but also to any job that requires working with plants. Agriculture and pest control are the big ones, but greenhouse jobs, landscaping, forest and water ecology and even the government all need entomologists. The most difficult part is figuring out what you'd like to focus on since there are so many options!

What or who inspired your interest in entomology?

I spent very little time indoors during my childhood. At the third grade career fair, I chose to be an entomologist and from that point on there wasn't a question of what I would be doing the rest of my life. Also, I've always loved Pokémon, and there is nothing that comes closer to being a real Pokémon professor than entomology. Gotta catch 'em all!

As a student during a global pandemic, what is something positive you found in the past year?

Remote classes were ideal for me. I was feeling very burnt out from school and while MSU being a "big school" is nice sometimes, having an hour-plus commute due to traffic on and around campus took so much time and energy. I felt like I could bring so much more to discussions when I had the extra time back and was able to have regular meals and take a break between classes, even if it were only 15-20 minutes. That time would have normally been used on a very rushed and stressful run across campus.

Remote classes also helped me learn more effectively than in-person classes. I struggle with focusing and sitting still in lectures, and with online classes I was able to stand up and move around or oblige tics like tapping my foot or my desk without disrupting the class in any way. The class I did best in was the lecture I was able to listen to on the treadmill!

I also have trouble speaking up to ask questions, which was much easier with Zoom's chat options. Zoom also generated closed captioning, which I very much appreciated. I think online schooling options are very beneficial for people like me who struggle with traditional schooling. I hope MSU will continue to advocate for online options even post-COVID-19 to help students like me be more comfortable in the classroom and have these accessibility options to make lectures less hostile to students with different learning needs.

I also had the opportunity to attend clubs for the first time in my college experience because of remote schooling! I never had a car on campus and the buses were unreliable after 6 p.m., not to mention I still had to make food, clean the apartment and do homework! So attending a club after dinner was not an option for me. Because clubs were over Zoom calls, I was able to try out a bunch of clubs and meet new people! I always regretted being unable to attend clubs and I'm glad I had at least one year to try that part of campus life.

What is your favorite way to spend your time outside of your studies?

Video games. I love roguelites and I may be addicted to losing LP (league points) in League of Legends.

What is your favorite insect and why?

Ants! They are what started my scientific interest in entomology past keeping bugs in jars and raising monarchs in the fall with my elementary school classes. Ants are the first group of insects that I worked on extensively back in middle school, and this year went back to my roots and started a county-wide survey collection of ants as a personal project. My favorite part is finding the smallest of ants (1-2 millimeters). They are usually subterranean, so finding one is always a lucky treasure.

Do you have advice for anyone interested in an entomology major?

Entomology is very connected with the other natural science departments. It is easy to learn a wide variety of other subjects just through interdepartmental entomology classes; this wider base of knowledge is useful for working with other majors of all sorts in the lab and on jobs. Take advantage of classes that can count as entomology credits, even if they are listed in other places on MSU’s Student Information System (SIS).

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