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STEM PEER MENTORS
STEM Peer Mentors are student representatives of our NKU STEM Departments: Biological Sciences, Chemistry & Biochemistry, Computer Science, Mathematics & Statistics, and Physics, Geology, & Engineering Technology. This special group of campus leaders are chosen for their academic achievement, campus involvement, and passion for their major. Through peer mentoring and events, STEM Peer Mentors fulfill an important role in helping build a friendly and supportive STEM community for NKU STEM majors.
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MEET THE MENTORS

Omkar Bhat, STEM Peer Mentor

Omkar Bhat

Major: Mechatronics Engineering

Year: Junior

Hometown: India/Qatar

About Me: I love cars and like being outdoors. So I would most likely say yes to a run, hike, kayaking, camping, etc. Travelling is also one of my passions when time permits.

Why I Chose NKU: One of the only colleges in the country to offer my major. And NKU is an average sized school with a lot of opportunities.

Why I Chose My Major: I always wanted to do something related to cars or robots. And I think my major would give me the chance to work with either of them, if not both.

My Career Goal: To work in the automotive industry.

Interesting Fact: I have been skydiving which was an amazing experience.

Advice to Freshmen: Push yourself out of your comfort zone and believe in yourself. Trust me, it works!

Julia Bottoms, STEM Peer Mentor

JULIA BOTTOMS

Major: Biology (CMG track)

Minor: Honors, Chemistry, and Spanish

Year: Sophomore

Hometown: Taylor Mill, Kentucky

About Me: I was born in Cincinnati, OH, and have grown up in NKY. I am also a Latina, my mom and her side of the family, being from Bogota, Colombia. In addition to being a STEM Peer Mentor, I am an Honors College Ambassador, Honors College Peer Mentor, Presidential Ambassador, LAMP (Latinx Mentors Program) Head Peer Mentor, LULAC NKU Secretary, Hispanic Chamber Member, NKU Norse Network Student Ambassador, Freshstart Member, BCM Family Group Leader, Norse Skolar, Victor Guide, 2021 NKU Orientation Leader, and Advanced Student Researcher.

Why I Chose NKU: Although my mom and sister are NKU alums, I had not yet hopped on the NKU train until this an NKU Honors Voyage event that opened my eyes to how amazing NKU is. At this event, I fell in love with the supportive NKU community. Not only did I see how intentional faculty, staff, and professors were at presenting future-focused enriching opportunities like paid research, but also how personable everyone that I spoke to was. They were ready to answer all of my questions and refer me to the countless resources that NKU has to support student success. I have had amazing career-specific opportunities within my first year here at NKU from paid student research, internships, and engaging classes, but the main thing that has kept me here at NKU is the support network that is here. I have had the most amazing professors and bosses here at NKU that truly seek to cultivate an environment where students from all walks of life with a diverse array of dreams and aspirations can thrive throughout their time in college and beyond.

Why I Chose My Major: I chose to major in Biology in the Pre-Health track because of my hopes to go onto graduate school to study Nutrition. I gained my passion for human nutrition throughout my years in high school, and my senior year after taking a BIO 126 course, I realized that it was what could see myself doing the rest of my life.

Career Goals: After completing graduate school for Nutrition, I plan to become a certified nutritionist and dietician, and later work long-term nationally and internationally helping under-resourced populations.

Interesting Fact: In my free time, I like to learn new languages (I grew up bilingual, and am fluent in English and Spanish), play the ukulele, read, and hike!

Advice to Freshmen: Some advice I would give to first-year students is to constantly be asking questions whether that be in the classroom, in tutoring, in your organizations, to your advisors, etc. This is a big transition, and everyone is here to help you succeed at NKU and beyond. When asking questions, it is important to know who to go to and be open to being referred to others that are best suited to help with whatever you may need.

Hannah Brayton, STEM Peer Mentor

Hannah Brayton

Major: Math

Year: Sophomore

Hometown: St. Leon, Indiana

About Me: I am an Orientation Leader, the Vice President of Presidential Ambassadors, in Leadership Mentors, and of course a STEM Peer Mentor! In my free time, I like to watch movies, spend time with my friends, and play soccer.

Why I Chose NKU: I loved the atmosphere here and how easy campus was to navigate. I also liked the fact that it’s not a very big school, but I was able to meet so many new people.

Why I Chose My Major: I chose math because I always loved the math classes I was in. In my spare time I liked to do puzzles, so it lead me to the math major.

My Career Goals: I hope to someday be a data analyst for a corporate business.

Interesting Fact: An interesting fact about me is that I have never broken a bone.

Advice to Freshmen: Try to get involved in one organization your first year. You will meet new people and start to build your community here.

Estafania Correa, STEM Peer Mentor

Estefania Correa

Major: Geology

Year: Senior

Hometown: Berea, Kentucky

About Me: I really enjoy hiking and being outdoors! I'm very interested in space science and work in the Planetarium on campus! One of my favorite things to do is host outdoor star shows.

Why I Chose NKU: I choose NKU because what really stood out to me was how much they invested in their student's future. The university offers so many opportunities to their students regardless of their backgrounds. This is very important to me as someone who is a first-generation college student. I feel that NKU gave me the tools and support system I needed to succeed. I truly feel that this school chooses to invest in me and my dreams.

Why I Chose My Major: My hometown really values the outdoors, and those values were instilled into me at a very young age. I grew up wanting to protect the planet, and so I became interested in learning how I could do that. I choose Geology because I feel that it would help me make a career out of my values as well as make my younger self proud.

My Career Goals: I hope to one day become a Planetary Geologist and professionally live in a van with my cat.

Interesting Facts: I can write forwards, backwards, and upside down at the same time with both my hands! I'm also vegetarian.

Advice to Freshmen: My biggest advice is to reach out when you need help. Whether its help with homework or you just need someone to talk to don't be afraid to reach out! You've got so many people who want to help you succeed, and we'll do anything we can to give you what you need and support you!

Carlee Franklin, STEM Peer Mentor

Carlee Franklin

Major: Computer Science

Year: Sophomore

Hometown: Winchester, Kentucky

About Me: I am currently a L.I.F.E Fellowship member, part of the Women in Cybersecurity chapter, and a research assistant under Dr. Ankur Chattopadhyay. My favorite course in my major so far was INF 286: Introduction to Web Development!

Why I chose NKU: I chose NKU because of my connection with the campus community and the staff/faculty. Everyone is so kind to me and genuinely values me and my future. An environment as good as this can be really hard to find!

Why I Chose My Major: I chose my major because I have a talent for technology and wanted to take that to the next level. I also want to explore ways to combine my other skills so I can bring fresh talents and ideas to this field.

My Career Goals: I hope to pursue web development or a career combining biomedical sciences with computer science.

Interesting Facts: I have two publications through my research, I am in the Honor’s college, and I was a TA for CSC 260 last semester.

Advice to Freshmen: Explore what makes you happy, and never feel stuck where you are. If your current situation doesn’t spark joy in you, change it up! And if you are happy right now, embrace it and don’t give up.

Shelly Geisler, STEM Peer Mentor

Shelly Geisler

Major: Biology (CMG track)

Minor: Honors, Spanish, and Chemistry

Year: Sophomore

Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky

About Me: My name is Maria but I go by Shelly. I am a sophomore and my major is biological sciences with the CMG track. I am also getting a minor in Honors, Spanish, and Chemistry. I was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. In my spare time I like to take photos, learn Spanish, and read.

Why I Chose NKU: I chose NKU because of the small class sizes, location, and education of the professors.

Why I Chose My Major: I chose my biological sciences major because I would like to go to medical school and I enjoy learning about a field that is constantly changing.

My Career Goals: I would like to become an internist, dermatologist, or pediatrician.

Interesting Facts: I’m part Mexican, I’ve shaken hands with Donald Trump, and this summer I went on a tour of the coast of California.

Advice to Freshmen: My advice to freshman would be to accept as many opportunities that have been given to you, yet also find a balance between with what is doable for you. Get outside of your comfort zone because that’s where the most rewarding experiences are.

Seth Gregg, STEM Peer Mentor

Seth Gregg

Major: Biology

Minor: Chemistry

Year: Sophomore

Hometown: Falmouth, Kentucky

About Me: I'm 19 years old and come from a family of four. I enjoy many things ranging from sports, to video games, to fishing and more. I am currently involved with the Health Professions Club and continuing to look for more ways to become involved.

Why I Chose NKU: I chose NKU because it is close to home, and I am put on my best pathway to success here.

Why I Chose My Major: I chose to major in biology because my goal is to go to medical school.

My Career Goals: I would like to complete medical school so that I can become a psychiatrist.

Interesting Facts: I really enjoy cooking. More specifically, I love to grill.

Advice to Freshmen: Get your work done early and put in the extra effort to study.

Hoang Vu Hai, STEM Peer Mentor

HOANG VU HAI

Major: Computer Science

Year: Sophomore

Hometown: Nghe An, Vietnam

About Me: I really like watching relatively old movies. My favorite movie is probably American Psycho followed closely by Amadeus. My favorite color is black, not because of the color itself, but because black is a color that can go well with every other color. I am also a tutor at NKU's plus tutor for CS courses and Math courses as well.

Why I Chose NKU: I chose NKU because NKU had extremely attractive tuition fees for international students. NKU is also located close to Cincinnati, a big city, and the Ohio River, making it a very nice and convenient location. The dorms, at least in the case of Callahan Hall, is close to Kroger, Nice Clips, US bank, and Fifth Third Bank, as well as Caines and Arby's. The campus looks nice and clean and Griffin Hall, which holds most CSC classes, has nice RGB lighting. All in all, I thought it is a very nice place to spend my college years.

Why I Chose My Major: I chose my major because my parents told me to since it was in high demand and had good career prospects. I also love the major. I have always been fascinated with technology and computers and it is a dream come true that something that I love is also a high-demand marketable skill and what my Asian parents want me to be.

My Career Goals: I am aspiring to become a full-stack developer and work at a nice. competitive, big company. One day I want to build my own company as well and when I am old and retired, I want to use those profits (if any) to buy a boat and become a fisherman in Japan.

Interesting Facts: I used to weigh 130 pounds but when I arrived in America, I gained 40 pounds in less than a month. I have a small scar on my forehead because I bumped my head on the edge of a glass table while trying to copy Sailor Moon.

Advice to Freshmen: CLEP tests are very underutilized and might save you a lot of time and money.

Your experience with a class can differ greatly between instructors so it's important that you research thoroughly to find the instructor that suits your style the best.

There are a lot of events that the department hosts that have free food.

Research projects are cool and if you have the aptitude, you should look into some.

Freshman year is the best time to make new friends and college friends can last for a very long time. If you can't make friends immediately that's also completely normal.

Damon Kennedy, STEM Peer Mentor

Damon Kennedy

Major: Computer Information Technology

Year: Senior

Hometown: Vanceburg, Kentucky

About Me: I enjoy spending time with friends and participating at various events on campus. I am a member of Campus Outreach and a College of Informatics Ambassador.

Why I Chose NKU: I chose NKU because of the campus size and the specific major tracks within the College of Informatics.

Why I Chose My Major: I chose my major because I am interested with computer hardware and networking as opposed to software development and programming.

 

My Career Goals: Obtain a career in network administration at a business in the NKY/Cincinnati area.

Interesting Fact: I am from a small town where the county only has two traffic lights.

Advice to Freshmen: Connect with your professors and attend their office hours.

Nick Klaene, STEM Peer Mentor

Nick Klaene

Major: Computer Science

Year: Junior

Hometown: Florence, Kentucky

About Me: I'm super passionate for all things technology and love to learn new things. I'm a member of ACM at NKU, STEM Peer Mentors, and I am doing a technical apprenticeship through Informatics+ at NKU. In my free time I love long distance running and lifting weights.

Why I Chose NKU: NKU is super affordable, close, and Cincinnati is an awesome city with tons of jobs.

Why I Chose My Major: I've always been interested in a technology, so Computer Science has naturally always been what I've wanted to study.

My Career Goals: I would like to move into IT leadership.

Interesting Facts:

  • Ran two marathons
  • Never been outside of the United States

Advice to Freshmen:

  • Get involved and meet new people; everybody else is just as nervous as you are.
  • Start looking for internships/co-ops early on in college.
Peyton Knight, STEM Peer Mentor

Peyton Knight

Major: Cybersecurity and General Business (double major)

Year: Sophomore

Hometown: Union, Kentucky

About Me: I am 19 years old the oldest of five. A few activities I enjoy are playing videogames, hanging out with friends, reading comic books, and playing sports to name a few.

Why I Chose NKU: I chose NKU due to a couple reasons. First off because of my majors and how well known and successful our college of informatics and college of business are. Secondly the location is perfect as I get to be close to family and enjoy the life of Cincinnati. Lastly, the costs were perfect with five kids in the household I wanted to do the best I could to ease the burden for my family.

Why I Chose My Major: My uncles both work for Tata Consultancy in the data management and business areas. They got my interests in the technology field from the start. Cybersecurity was the perfect major for me to help others with a big interest in my life. General Business is because I want to be a start up and run a successful business.

My Career Goals: I would love to start up my own technology business to better provide the need for technology in the Cincinnati area.

Interesting Facts: Some interesting facts about me is I am named after Peyton Manning; my father was a huge Tennessee Volunteers fan. I played football throughout middle school and high school. I have three younger sisters and one younger brother. I have three dogs.

Advice to Freshmen: If you are willing to push yourself, you will always be able to be successful. Whether that is in college, your job, or life in general. Life is hard and for some it is harder than others, but you can always push through the hard times if you stick to it and push yourself to become the best you.

Paige Landfried, STEM Peer Mentor

Paige Landfried

Major: Biology

Year: Sophomore

Hometown: Union, Kentucky

About Me: In my free time I love to bake, read, or watch a good movie. I
enjoy spending time with my friends and family more than anything.

Why I Chose NKU: I chose NKU because it is the perfect size. It is small enough to be able to form meaningful relationships with classmates and professors, but also large enough to get involved with a community.

Why I Chose My Major: I chose Biology as my major because I’ve always loved learning about the subject. It covers such a wide range of topics and there is always something new to learn.

My Career Goals: I hope to one day pursue a Master's degree in genetic counseling and become a genetic counselor.

Interesting Facts: I love to travel! I have a bucket list of places I want to visit around the world.

Advice to Freshmen: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Whether it is about an exam or an assignment, it never hurts to clarify something. Your professors, advisors, and SI’s are always willing to help!

Jensen Linder, STEM Peer Mentor

Jensen Linder

Major: Electronic Media and Broadcasting

Year: Sophomore

Hometown: Fort Mitchell, Kentucky

About Me: I am currently a sophomore here at NKU. I love being around my family and friends, I also am a huge sports fan especially Football and Basketball. I am very involved within my Church and actually help out doing lots of live production and short films for them. Other than that I am a pretty laid back person and can’t wait to take on this semester with you!

Why I Chose NKU: I chose NKU because of their EMB program. There really aren’t that many other places around here that have what NKU does. I also chose NKU because it is close to my family and I am big on family!

Why I Chose My Major: I chose my major because I love videography. I stumbled upon Casey Neistat and Peter McKinnon as a sophomore in high school and fell in love with the lives and careers they have which got me interested into the EMB program.

My Career Goals: My huge career goal way down the line would be to produce my own movie. But other than that I want to be able to work and be able to travel and hopefully one day work for myself.

Interesting Facts: I am a two time state champion and was featured on ESPN’s top 10 plays.

Advice to Freshmen: My advice to freshman would just be to get out and be involved. Seize as many opportunities as possible and get out of your comfort zone.

Moyo Mike-Adeogun, STEM Peer Mentor

Moyo Mike-Adeogun

Major: Communication Studies and Journalism

Year: Sophomore

Hometown: Lagos, Nigeria

About Me: I'm an international student and I've lived in Nigeria my entire life but have travelled around a lot. My love for exploration and ambition to experience everything the world has to offer, brought me out of my comfort zone all the way to NKU. I love being of any assistance and helping people in any little way I can so please reach out for absolutely anything you need, and I will do my best to assist you.

Why I Chose NKU: I chose NKU because of the detailed content of the majors I have dreamed of pursuing and significantly the opportunity to pursue both majors rather than having to pick one of my passions.

Why I Chose My Major: I chose communication studies because I adore communicating with people in every way and helping people communicate better. And I chose journalism because I recognized the value and importance of sharing people's perspectives and experiences and wanted to be a part of that.

My Career Goals: To travel around Eastern Asia and Europe while gaining international exposure and developing my skills in fashion and entertainment journalism. After which I plan to utilize my acquired skills and exposure to pursue my dream job in the Conde Nast Publishing house as a Creative Director.

Interesting Facts: I absolutely love Japanese food. Getting my hair done makes me the happiest. I'm currently learning how to drive.

Advice to Freshmen: Don't be afraid to make mistakes! I promise you that everyone is still figuring out what to do as well so don't put the pressure of perfection on yourselves.

Alex Mullins, STEM Peer Mentor

Alex Mullins

Major: Chemistry (biochemistry track)

Year: Sophomore

Hometown: Fort Mitchell, Kentucky

About Me: I really enjoy reading in my free time and watching the Big Bang Theory. I am involved in Dr. Guy's research group and am a Victor Guide this year.

Why I Chose NKU: I went to a high school very close to NKU, so we had field trips here all the time and I loved the campus. My mom went here, and she would always tell me about how much fun she had which made me really want to come and have similar experiences.

Why I Chose My Major: I chose to major in chemistry because I had an amazing chemistry teacher in high school, and she made me fall in love with the subject.

My Career Goals: I plan to go to medical school to become a forensic pathologist.

Interesting Fact: I make the best guacamole according to my research group.

Advice to Freshmen: I would say that the best piece of advice for freshman is to set time aside for yourself. You don't want to be continuously worrying about school or work; there should be time for you to just sit back and relax.

Param Patel, STEM Peer Mentor

Param Patel

Major: Cybersecurity

Year: Junior

Hometown: Gujarat, India

About Me: I love going out with friends and trying new things, I am also very passionate about cooking and like to make different dishes and try them as well.

Why I Chose NKU: NKU is a great college and I saw a lot of opportunities for growth, also I like how inclusive and diverse NKU is.

Why I Chose My Major: I always had something for cybersecurity and computers and actually I changed my major thrice. I started as a CS major changed to CIT and now CYS. With cybersecurity I get best of all three and that was one of the reasons for choosing it.

My Career Goals: I want to move forward in the cybersecurity area as it’s a very vast field. I would like to explore what suits me and focus on it.

Interesting Facts: I like adventure sports and I have so far done skydiving and Scooba diving, and hope to do more.

Advice to Freshmen: Enjoy your time here and make new friends and connections that will help you in your coming future as well as your time here at NKU.

Rayah Ross, STEM Peer Mentor

Rayah R. Ross

Major: Biology

Year: Junior

Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky

About Me: Hi my name is Rayah. I am very determined to make my mark on the world, and I am so eager to see what life has in store for me. Teeth are my passion and making people smile is my goal. I am the President of the Health Professions Club and the chair of the pre-dental committee.

Why I Chose NKU: I chose NKU because in my junior year of high school, I attended the Multicultural Leadership Conference at NKU and instantly fell in love with how small and beautiful the campus was and even more how much people made me feel like I was right at home. NKU is the place to be!

Why I Chose My Major: Being a biology major has made me fall in love with learning new things each day. I love the challenges it brings and the people I have met that are wanting to pursue the same goals as me one day.

My Career Goals: I want to become an orthodontist.

Interesting Facts: I have 6 nieces and 7 nephews. I have been to Mexico and Aruba. My goal is to travel to at least 50 countries by the time I am 40.

Advice to Freshmen: Never be afraid to ask questions to your professors because chances are someone else has the same exact question. Also sit in the front of the class so your professor will remember your face.

Naryn Samuel, STEM Peer Mentor

Naryn Samuel

Major: Computer Information Technology

Year: Sophomore

Hometown: Vieux-Fort, Saint Lucia

About Me: I am an international student at NKU. I enjoy playing soccer and watching many other sports.

Why I Chose NKU: I chose NKU because the degree I wanted to pursue is offered here, and because of the lower tuition cost for international students.

Why I Chose My Major: I chose CIT as my major because I like learning about computer technologies, and the demand of job positions in this career is high.

My Career Goals: To acquire a job in the IT field, preferably in systems administration or cybersecurity, and then pursue a master’s degree.

Interesting Fact: I play the guitar.

Advice to Freshmen: Manage your time in a way that allows you to be ahead of your studies and assignments.

Sam Seibert, STEM Peer Mentor

Sam Seibert

Major: General Chemistry

Year: Junior

Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio

About Me: I currently research in Dr. Guy’s biochemistry lab here at NKU and I’m most interested in pursuing a career related to organic chemistry. When I’m not at school you may find me training for my next race, re-reading the Lord of the Rings series, or fishing on the banks of a quiet lake. I am also an active member of my church community.

Why I Chose NKU: I chose NKU because of its optimal size. NKU is large enough that undergraduates will be immersed in research and excellent hands-on experiences, but small enough that students can make valuable connections with their professors and fellow classmates.

Why I Chose My Major: I chose chemistry as my major because I was captivated by chemistry in high school. While I was not familiar with various chemistry disciplines, I knew that I would be presented with many interesting and meaningful career paths if I pursued chemistry.    

My Career Goals: My interest in organic chemistry has led me to consider attending pharmacology or pharmacy school post-graduation.

Interesting Facts: I ran cross country for four years in high school and continue to run. When I have the time, I love growing a good patch of sweet corn. I’m a coffee fanatic who cannot live without four cups a day. 

Advice to Freshmen: Doing well in school is all about the day-to-day habits you develop. If you are willing to devote time to completing classwork and studying, you will succeed. This sounds like a cliché, but many students get tired during the semester and abandon good habits. Keep your eyes on the prize and maintain those good study habits!

Kali VanHoose, STEM Peer Mentor

Kali VanHoose

Major: Physics and Engineering Physics (mechatronics track)

Minor: Math

Year: Senior

Hometown: Pikeville, Kentucky

About Me: I am a transfer student from Morehead state. I love all things medical and I’m currently doing research on a mind controlled prosthetics. 

Why I Chose NKU: I chose NKU because the atmosphere is amazing! The professors are there to help you succeed in anyway they can!

Why I Chose My Major: I chose my majors because I love knowing how things work from machines and electronics to the world.

My Career Goals: My career goal is to be a biomedical engineer.

Interesting Fact: I have two dogs.  

Advice to Freshmen: My advice is don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Grace Winstel, STEM Peer Mentor

Grace Winstel

Major: Neuroscience/Psychology double major

Year: Sophomore

Hometown: Crescent Springs, Kentucky

About Me: I graduated from Notre Dame Academy in 2020, and I played lacrosse and soccer in high school. Since coming to NKU, I have joined the sorority Kappa Delta, the Women’s Club Soccer Team, G.U.I.D.E., and Dr. Walter’s research team! I worked in her lab this summer in addition to a local coffee shop, called Villa Mocha. I love crafts, art, fashion, coffee, thrift shopping, and spending time outside.

Why I Chose NKU: I chose NKU because I knew it would be a comfortable fit for me with many opportunities such as this! I’m grateful I’ve been close to home during this challenging year, also. NKU is exactly where I’m meant to be!

Why I Chose My Major: I originally applied to schools as an Engineering Major but was apprehensive about that decision. I realized during my senior year that I really wanted to help people in my future career and that I had a distinct curiosity about the brain and human behavior. Perfect choice!

My Career Goals: Become a psychologist and maybe do research of my own one day!

Interesting Facts: I have a golden retriever named Chai and a cat named Casey. I was a 2019 Governor’s Scholar.

Advice to Freshmen: Being a STEM major is difficult, but it is not impossible. You are capable of anything you put your mind to, so work hard every day! It will usually pay off.

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Connect With a Mentor

If you are interested in contacting one of our STEM Peer Mentors, please fill out the Contact Request Form. We look forward to connecting with you!

Contact Request Form

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Ellen Hokkanen, STEM Peer Mentor Faculty Advisor

Program Contact

Ellen Hokkanen
STEM Peer Mentor Faculty Advisor

(859) 572-1938
hokkanene1@nku.edu

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