Matt McKinney, Knox Class of 2013, is part of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize-winning team at the Pittsburgh Post-Gaz...
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Galesburg, IL 61401-4999
Post-Baccalaureate Student Researcher, Los Alamos National Laboratory
Major in Chemistry, Minor in Theatre
How did your Knox experience influence where you are today?
In my time [at Knox], I learned so much about the different areas of chemistry and most especially, about research. It is because of the great professors who constantly challenged me to learn more that I am preparing to get my Ph.D. I learned, not just about classwork and studying, but about thinking, analyzing, and being alive.
Why did you choose Knox?
I chose Knox because it had really strong chemistry and theatre programs. I knew I wanted to do a lot of hands-on learning and take responsibility for my education—and that's exactly what these programs offered. Whether it was conducting research independently for a professor or designing and producing a show with other students, I was given the opportunities and independence to take charge of my education.
Tell us about a memorable Knox moment.
Just one?! There were so many! Rep Term, London Arts Alive, Craig Choma (and building a hilarious, interactive model mouse trap for his Intro to Tech class), every Gender and Women's studies class I took! But one class that has had a profound impact on me is the ethics course I took with Brandon Polite. That class had some of the most intense readings (Aristotle, Hume, Kant) I have ever encountered and brought up a lot of ideas that I didn't necessarily agree with. It really broadened my horizons and still has a huge impact on how I view justice all over the world as well as how my actions affect others.
Talk about clubs, athletics, study abroad, internships, etc. that you were involved in as a student.
I was extremely involved in extracurriculars—particularly within the Theatre department. I worked in the scene shop, building and painting sets, designed the lighting and sets for student-produced plays, and even got the chance to work as the assistant facilities manager of Harbach Theatre, fixing, organizing, and generally keeping up the lighting equipment. The theatre department at Knox is such a family of talented, quirky, hard-working people. I have nothing but love and admiration for all the professors and students there—they really made my Knox career! I also joined the sorority Alpha Sigma Alpha (full of wonderful women), the Improv club (where I had too many laughs to count), and the a Capella group Soulfege (which never ceased to amaze me with the power of our voices). It may sound cheesy, but the people I met at Knox filled every day with sunshine!
What surprised you the most about your Knox experience?
I was most surprised at the exceptional quality of people I met there. I met people from all different backgrounds with one thing in common: passion. They were all passionate about something.