Convocation 2014 Student Highlight: Jennifer Thornhill

As course instruction comes to an end and convocation nears, we want to take this week to highlight students from the 2014 graduating class in the College of Science. Congratulations to the entire class of 2014!  View full convocation details.

Jennifer Thornhill
PhD, Environmental Science and Public Policy

Jennifer Thornhill is a study in dedication to academia. First she received her bachelor of arts degree in English literature from Truman State University in Missouri, and then she earned her master’s degree in animal behavior at the University of Oklahoma. She thought she was finished with school, but she was unsatisfied.

“Above all, don’t give up. I know a lot of people who almost completed their dissertations, had children, and never went back. If I can do this, anyone can.”

“I took time off, and I didn’t think I would go back. But something nagged at me … I was always interested in the animal side of conservation, and I always wanted to study it,” says Thornhill. Following her heart, she pursued doctoral studies in the College of Science while also working full time at the National Science Foundation as a science analyst and being a new mom to her son, Aven. “I’ve learned to be incredibly efficient since I’ve had my son. I did my research during forty-five minute lunch breaks. It’s amazing what you can get done in such small amounts of time.”

She says that Mason’s ability to accommodate students in her position with night classes was incredibly helpful with her studies and in connecting her with other working students. “Above all,” she says, “don’t give up. I know a lot of people who almost completed their dissertations, had children, and never went back. If I can do this, anyone can. If you love the subject, then go for it.” And that love for the subject is evident in Thornhill’s commitment to her work.

Photo credit: Maya Weschler