I saw a need in my local and global communities for people who love our planet and want to defend its biodiversity. This inspired me to use science to empower students with the confidence and knowledge needed to bring about positive change.”
Why Biological Sciences
“As a woman, I wanted to demonstrate to my students that the scientific community needs people of all backgrounds and perspectives in order to create a better future. I want all of my students to know that their voice—not the voice of the person sitting next to them or the student with the highest grade—matters. I hope to encourage future leaders and innovators not just by teaching my students what we already know but by providing them with tools to discover what we have yet to learn.”
Mckenna worked as a naturalist at Mission Springs Outdoor Education, where she utilized science and hands-on learning activities to foster positive student relationships and good stewardship of the environment. Her curriculum focused on redwood and stream ecology, marine biology, team building, and environmental stewardship for the middle school level.
Before deciding to pursue a master’s degree in teaching, Mckenna enjoyed investigating ecological phenomena under the guidance of the Au Sable Environmental Institute. She measured the phenotypic plasticity of green frog tadpoles as a result of corticosterone release under predation in the bogs of Michigan. Additionally, she participated in a 2016–2017 National Science Foundation-funded study, where she collected blood samples from garter snakes and performed leukocyte analyses for immunological changes as a response to the 2012–2016 California drought.
Mckenna will begin teaching at Alexander Hamilton Senior High School during the 2020–2021 school year.
While volunteering with Partners in Education, Mckenna participated in an after-school program, where she encouraged Latina elementary students to pursue science as they investigated topics such as botany, marine biology, and the water cycle. Mckenna also volunteered as a docent and aquarist at the Ty Warner Sea Center in Santa Barbara, California for two years. She took on many roles at the aquarium but her favorites were leading tours, feeding the sharks, and giving puzzles to their two-spot octopus.
Mckenna’s favorite pastime is learning about and interacting with a myriad of animals. She also enjoys learning new cooking techniques and finding beautiful places to paint.
- University of Southern California (Master of Arts in Teaching)
- Westmont College (Bachelor of Science in Biology)