As Kristine Romich tells it, two and a half years ago she was unemployed and felt she had little prospect for a meaningful future, but after discovering she could continue her education at a reasonable cost through City Colleges of Chicago, she has, in her words, transformed her life.

Kristine enrolled at Harold Washington in the summer of 2015 to study physics after deciding to make a career change.  She already had a bachelor’s degree in the liberal arts and had spent some time moving between jobs after dropping out of a master’s program in social psychology.  For a while, she was out of work.  What started as a quest for an employable STEM degree led to the rediscovery of a lifelong fascination with the study of the universe.  She realized that what she wanted was to be an astrophysicist.

In the summer of 2016, she completed a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (R.E.U.) internship in neutrino astrophysics at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.  Along with two other undergraduates, she spent 10 weeks analyzing data from the South Pole’s IceCube neutrino detector, the largest neutrino detector in the world. At the end of the summer, she and her colleagues were nominated to present their findings last October at the National Science Foundation headquarters as part of the Council on Undergraduate Research’s annual R.E.U. Symposium.

In the summer of 2017, she is participating in the Society of Physics Students (SPS) internship at NASA, and will be working at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center just outside of Washington, DC on a project titled “Coronal Heating and the Origin of the Solar Wind.” She will be investigating why the Sun’s outermost layer, called the corona, gets as hot as a million degrees.  Her research will address the cause of the solar winds, investigating which regions of the corona are accelerated to become solar winds and how this happens.

While at CCC, Kristine was also the vice president of the Harold Washington College STEM Club, a member of High Altitude Ballooning Club (HAB) Club, a member of PTK and a recipient of the NSF STEM Scholarship. Kristine will continue her studies at the University of Southern California to major in Physics.

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