Third-year wildlife ecology and management major
Van Der Laar thinks Michigan Tech’s location couldn’t get any better.
“I was raised in the country and I’ve always loved being outside,” she says. “I didn’t want to go to school in a big city. My particular interest has always been birds and bird migration. It’s a pretty logical conclusion to come to Michigan Tech for school. We’re in the middle of a really great outdoor laboratory!”
Van Der Laar has found plenty of opportunities to focus on her specific interests. From studying the migration patterns of the golden wing warbler with a PhD student to starting a student organization for fellow birdwatchers, her childhood dreams of studying nature are quickly becoming reality.
“I’ve been interested in the outdoors since I was a little kid,” she says. “I decided when I was thirteen years old that I wanted to be a naturalist. As I got older, that evolved into wanting to go into wildlife management.”
Van Der Laar’s favorite part about Michigan Tech (besides its wide variety of natural habitats) is the atmosphere created by helpful professors and compassionate peers.
“The faculty and staff really care about the students,” she says. “Michigan Tech really takes good care of their students. There’s a great sense of camaraderie on campus… a lot of energy.”
Van Der Laar is certainly not the only person who has noticed the importance placed on students’ experiences at Michigan Tech.
“I have friends all over campus who talk about the great experiences they have,” she says. “Their professors are really approachable and when they need help they can get it.”