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Amy Kish


Student Degree


Student Major

Environmental Science

Student Minor

Certification in GIS

Student Hometown

Akron, Ohio


I graduated from high school in 1991.  During my senior year, when everyone was figuring out what they wanted to pursue in college, I was advised of something I’ll never forget. I wanted to do something with science, mainly biology.  However, I was told I should focus on something in the liberal arts, because I just didn’t have the mind for higher level science and/or math. I took that to heart for years. Huge mistake! 

I started college in the early 90’s at The University of Akron, a school of approximately 80,000 students. I also attended Kent State University (during the 90’s), which is another large university. I was originally a Special Education major. I never completed the programs because of several factors. First, the program just didn’t seem to fit what I wanted to do. Second, I was blessed to become a mom. I decided to set my education aside to do the greatest job I could think of, raise my son Spencer. 

I started back to school, many years later, at a small technical school in South Carolina to pursue a nursing degree. I took one microbiology course, and I was hooked. I knew my passion for science had never left. I moved to North Carolina, and after getting settled, I started to look for a school that would allow me to pursue my passion and to finally get a degree in science; that led me to UNC Pembroke. 

Why did you choose to attend UNCP? 

The main reason I chose UNCP is the small student-teacher ratio. Having attended very large universities in the past, small class sizes were important to me. I also needed to be able to commute to a campus.

What do you like best about UNCP? 

The thing I like best about UNCP is the accessibility of the faculty to the students. I don’t feel like a number here. I know all my professors and feel comfortable talking to any of them about school or home. I like that I can even approach professors I haven’t even had for classes to talk about their experiences in graduate schools or just bounce ideas off them for possible future plans. The faculty has never treated me differently, being a nontraditional student. 

What are your post-graduation plans? 

I am graduating from UNCP in December 2018. (Remember that advisor I mentioned who told me I didn’t have the mind for science? I’ll be graduating with honors, hopefully Magna Cum Laude!) As of now, I have not solidified my post-graduation plans, but I am leaning towards the PhD program in Marine Biology at UNC Chapel Hill. I will be applying to several other programs as well. I hope whatever my future holds, I will be able to work in the estuary system somewhere along the east coast. I am interested in the interaction of salt and fresh water and the organisms living there. The first thing I have planned immediately after graduation, however, is to prepare for my son to graduate from high school in June 2019. 

Please comment on your research experiences: 

I was lucky enough to be offered the opportunity to become a RISE Fellow at UNCP this past summer and into the 2017-2018 academic year. I have been working with Dr. John Roe on eastern box turtle research and the relationship prescribed fire plays in the species’ ecology. I presented a research poster at the end-of-summer RISE poster session, and I will be presenting at several conferences in the spring of 2018, including the ASB (Association of Southeastern Biologists) in Myrtle Beach in March, the AAG (American Association of Geographers) National Conference in New Orleans in April, and in multiple other state conferences.

Amy Kish and Hannah Swartz Amy Kish and Kayla Amy Kish Middle photo: Amy Kish in the microbiology lab