Lessons From Zimbabwe

Sophie Kirkman, on Dickinson's campus.

Sophie Kirkman ’19         

Growing up on a safari ranch in Zimbabwe, Sophie Kirkman ’19 spent a lot of time outdoors, and she says that these experiences sensitized her to the global effects of climate change. She's now a physics major and communications intern with Dickinson's Center for Sustainability Education. Speaking during a public address by Rose-Walters Prize winner Brett Jenks, Kirkman said that her Dickinson education has taught her "that sustainability is about so much more than protecting the environment ... it's about social justice, resilience, education and the communities that live off these lands and resources."



Clubs and organizations:  

Dickinson Christian Fellowship, Outing Club, Cross CountryTrack and Center for Sustainability Education (intern).

Favorite book:

The Lord of the Rings by J R. R. Tolkien.

Favorite movie:

The Green Mile.

Favorite place on campus:

Waidner-Spahr Library.

On choosing my major:  

I love problem solving and discovering how things work.

On choosing Dickinson:    

I applied to Dickinson because of the small class sizes and the sustainability and global focus.

Favorite Dining Hall food:

Fish tacos from the Kove.

Favorite learning experience:  

I spent spring break of my first year in inner-city Washington, D.C., on an InterVarsity trip with Dickinson Christian Fellowship. I learned so much about racial injustice in the U.S. and about my privilege. The week of learning and service pushed me to reflect on the racial inequalities at home in Zimbabwe and showed me how important social justice is to my faith.

Favorite class experience: 

Intro to Theoretical Physics. It was difficult, and the professor pushed us hard, but I learned so much! It was such a rewarding course.

On study abroad:

I am going to New Zealand next semester!

Post-Dickinson plans:

Long-term, I want to go into renewable energy. I am not sure of the exact route I will take to get into the field. I think I will study mechanical engineering or environmental physics for post-grad.

As a kid, I wanted to be …

The first time someone asked me that question, I said I wanted to be a waterbuck (a type of antelope). When I was a bit older, I wanted to be an entomologist or a cowgirl. Through most of high school I wanted to be a vet.

Little-known hobby/talent:

Scuba diving.

If I could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, it would be …   

. . . Martin Luther King Jr.

About my internship:

I am working at the Center for Sustainability Education as a media and outreach intern. This position gives me the opportunity to share our awesome sustainability initiatives with the campus.

About my research:

Will Boyes ’19 and I are working with [Professor of Physics] Hans Pfister on his new solar air heater. We are taking data to test its efficiency. This research allows me to link sustainability with physics.

On being at Dickinson:

I am so blessed to study here at Dickinson, and I can’t take all the credit [for what I’ve accomplished so far], because I think that my privileged upbringing as well as all the supportive people around me have allowed me to do all that I do.

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Published December 19, 2017