Design by Alexa Druyanoff

In Echoes, Josh Atwater (TD ‘24, Herald staff) conducts a weekly interview and excerpts the most impactful quotes into a short-form narrative.

The following is sourced from a conversation with Catie Fenstermaker (SY ’25). Quotes are edited for clarity and length.

“I’m an Earth and Planetary Sciences major, but I always say ‘paleontology’ because nobody knows EPS. It’s a concentration within EPS. I think there’s, like, eight people majoring in it. I started off leaning more toward ecology, mostly because I wanted to be outside. Then I ended up really liking the puzzle that comes with paleontology, piecing together the past. My first exposure was Jurassic Park. Which is actually not terrible exposure—in some ways it’s more accurate than you’d think, but overall still pretty inaccurate.

Some of the stuff from back then is so cool; there’s no way any of that stuff should have lived. It’s crazy. Giant reptiles, six-foot gophers, and other things that totally freak me out. It’s so cool to look back and think, ‘Alternate timelines… Mother nature decided to make this little change and now this type of animal can be someone’s pet.’ 

I say sometimes that I’m majoring in unemployment. I’ve been thinking about grad school, but I don’t know. I’d love to work at a museum. Maybe I’ll take a gap year and go climbing somewhere new. I’ve never been to the West Coast; there’s a lot of good rocks out there.

I feel like I’ve changed so much—partially it’s a college thing, but generally from living somewhere new and having to start fresh. Going into a situation where nobody has any preconceived notions about you.

I gave myself a tattoo the other day. It’s a little stick-and-poke. I ordered a kit off of Amazon for fifteen dollars. It was a Tuesday when it came in, and I’m done at 12:50 on Tuesdays, so I thought, ‘Hmm.. what do I want to do today?’ and I gave myself a tattoo. You can see the places where it’s hazy—I passed over it four times. It was a lot of ink; it was confusing, and it hurt. 

I really like it, though, because it’s supposed to be a plant. And when I have my shoes off and I’m standing in the dirt, it’s positioned on my ankle in the way that a plant would be growing out of the ground. I really like bringing that little part of nature everywhere.

Everybody I’ve shown the tattoo to has said ‘Wow, that’s really cool,’ or ‘Wow, I really want a tattoo,’ and I always say: ‘The kit came with several needles… If you want a tattoo, let me know!’”

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