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Kim Hawley

Savannah Pine in front of Notre Dame

Alumni Spotlight | April 2021

Undergraduate KU major: English Literature and Journalism (News & Information)

Graduation Year: 2012

Current occupation: Freelance writer/editor, and web/graphic designer

Research mentors while at KU: Kirsten Bosnak and Simran Sethi

Describe the undergraduate research/creative experience that you had while at KU:  I was so grateful to have the support of KU while I conducted research at three student farms on the West Coast. I was the co-founder and president of the KU Student Farm at the time, and wanted to expand my knowledge on student farming—best practices, marketing, fun ideas for community events, etc. The Undergraduate Research Award gave me the funds to go on this trip and bring those great ideas back to our farm. It was a wonderful experience that I am so glad I had!

Q: What do you think was the most important thing you learned while doing undergraduate research?

A: I learned that student farming was not only possible at our farm at KU—it was necessary! I came back home feeling so proud that we were helping students learn about where their food comes from and providing a space where they could grow it! I also learned how important authentic community is for a growing organization.


Q: What advice do you have for undergraduates who might be interested in doing research or creative scholarship?

A:  You have no idea what impact you might have on the world, so go for that big idea! Things that might seem insignificant to you might mean the world to someone else. It's worth it to get out of your comfort zone for the betterment of others—and yourself!


Q: Do you use any of the skills or perspectives gained doing research in your current occupation? How so?

A: Absolutely! I helped research for a book on agricultural biodiversity, and I cultivate authentic community in a nonprofit organization I am building around perinatal mental health. I also have an appreciation for research/best practices and others' work that has helped me grow my business and connect with others.


Q: Many undergraduate researchers are making decisions about what to do after they graduate from KU. Having been in those shoes, what do you know now that you wish you’d known then? Do you have any advice?

A: When I was leaving KU, I wanted to make sure I was doing the "right" thing with my life that would please the people who had supported me. But I really wish I had focused more on what I wanted to do in the world instead of what I thought others wanted me to do. I wish I had known that those people would support me in anything I did! My advice for you is to spend time researching what you love, and move forward from that place. And take good care of yourself along your journey. This is maybe the most important job you will ever have.

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Research teaches critical thinking and problem solving — top skills sought by employers
KU is a member of the Council on Undergraduate Research
More than 1,200 students have received Undergraduate Research Awards since 1986
KU's first valedictorian, Flora Richardson, conducted research as an undergraduate before graduating in 1873
Use research to apply what you learned in the classroom to a real problem
Students who perform research develop strong relationships with KU faculty
Research is a hands-on way to explore career options
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