Outstanding Islander Graduate is an Ambitious Adventurer at Home on the Water

Published: December 09, 2015

Outstanding Islander Graduate is an Ambitious Adventurer at Home on the Water

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Kathryn Sarah Mendenhall, an ambitious graduate student at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, knew from a young age that working in and around water is what she wanted to do with her life.

During her time as a graduate student in the Master of Science in Fisheries and Mariculture program at the Island University, Mendenhall has maintained a 4.0 GPA and has worked as a Graduate Teaching and Research Assistant. She earned three scholarships and is one of about 780 students who will graduate during the fall 2015 commencement ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 12, at the American Bank Center. The ceremony, which begins at 10 a.m., includes graduates from all five of A&M-Corpus Christi’s colleges.

“I’m happiest when I’m working with three things: the outdoors, people and my hands,” said Mendenhall. “In fisheries, I get the privilege of working with all three of those things.”

Earlier this year, her graduate advisor, Dr. Jennifer Pollack, nominated Mendenhall as the A&M-Corpus Christi Outstanding Master’s Student of 2015, and she was selected.

“Dr. Pollack, without my knowledge, nominated me,” said Mendenhall. “I never expected to receive such an honor, and appreciate that she took the time out of her busy schedule to do so. It’s the small things that mean so much.”

Mendenhall says it is a challenge to find her when she is not working in or near the water. In the past, she competed in long-distance kayaking, SCUBA diving, competitive swimming, lifeguarding and she was also on the University of Texas women’s rowing team.

Mendenhall’s graduate research had her out in Baffin Bay, collecting information to ultimately help fisheries managers and policymakers have a better understanding of the Baffin Bay food web, and prepare for or respond to fish starvation events that may happen in the future.

“During my first few semesters here, if I wasn’t teaching a lab or taking classes, I was either in the lab processing samples or in the field being evenly salted by what we like to call the ‘Baffin Crust,’” said Mendenhall. “Now that the pace has slowed down just a bit, you can find me at the gym, in the kitchen, at a great restaurant or taking long road trips to new places.”

Mendenhall, who is from a suburb of Dallas, says she chose to attend A&M-Corpus Christi for many reasons.

“The Island University was definitely one of the more affordable options,” she said. “Also, and more importantly, the school has a huge diversity of faculty with lots of different specialties, making for an excellent resource for scientific research.”

Mendenhall is described by her mentors as a team player, with a good work ethic.

“I’ve been told in the past to learn how to say ‘no’, but have instead found that saying ‘yes’ is one of the best things you can do to build that resume and obtain your dream job,” she said.

In the future, Mendenhall would like to work for a state agency or as an environmental education and outreach/stewardship coordinator for a nonprofit organization. She says she has eight interviews lined up in the weeks before graduation.

In October 2016, she plans to marry her fiancé, Adrian, and then one day, move up to Washington State, where her parents have just bought a home overlooking Puget Sound.

“I thank my family, including my parents and my two sisters, for giving me the motivation to graduate and the perseverance to pursue my dreams,” she said. “My parents taught us the important lessons of happiness, love, and success not only in their words, but in their actions.”