Dakota Kennedy

Dakota Kennedy '19

Degree and Class Year

BA ’19


Monument, Colorado




Resident Advisor, chemistry tutor, Queer Student Union

What three words would you use to describe L&C?

Comforting, Inspiring, Rainy!

Life After L&C, June 2019 Update

How did Lewis & Clark prepare you for grad school?

As an undergrad at L&C, I had the opportunity to participate in highly independent laboratory-based chemistry research that culminated in the writing and defense of my honors thesis. This experience was an incredibly unique one and proved to be an excellent opportunity for me to stretch my mind and apply the concepts I had been learning in class for the past several years. This fantastic experience has made me feel comfortable and competent as I prepare to begin work on my PhD in inorganic chemistry at the University of Washington this fall.

What have you been doing since graduation?

Since graduation, I have been serving as a scientific consultant and advisor to a private investment group based in Seattle, and also working as a front desk agent at a fancy hotel in Breckenridge, Colorado, to earn some extra money before I pack my bags for grad school.

What are your career goals?

After finishing my PhD, I would like to move to Scandinavia for a post-doctoral fellowship in one of the many branches of environmental chemistry. I’m not sure exactly what kind of career I’m aiming for, but I know I want to dedicate the rest of my life to research that might improve the public’s knowledge of climate change and its disastrous consequences.

Now that you’re out of college, what would you say is the most important thing you learned at Lewis & Clark?

I think the most valuable thing I learned at Lewis & Clark was taught to me by my chamber music professor, Nancy Ives. She taught us that everything we create—not just music and art—and everything that we do requires creative energy, and everyone has a finite amount of creative energy. We all only have so much of ourselves to give to what we do and what we make. A rather somber lesson, I know. But the most important part of all this is that we can always get more of this creative energy. When we’re able to recognize that we have nothing left of ourselves to give, we need to have the courage to take a step back and give ourselves permission to fall in love with the world again.

Life at L&C

What has been your favorite class so far? How did it expand your knowledge?

A History of Western Music with Professor Aaron Beck. I learned more about music than I thought possible in this class. Aaron is an incredibly brilliant professor who was able to get us engaged in what he was teaching. This has been the only class I’ve ever taken where I was honestly excited to write a research paper!

What made you want to come to Lewis & Clark?

I came to Lewis & Clark for several reasons. First off, I’ve always wanted to live in the Pacific Northwest. Secondly, the size of the school was a huge thing for me. It’s really great to be at a college where all of your professors know you by name. Once I found out that Lewis & Clark has a stellar chemistry program, it didn’t make sense to go anywhere else!

What’s your favorite spot on campus?

My favorite spot on campus is room 10 in the music building. It’s a spacious practice room with my favorite piano. I’ll go in there to practice quite often and sometimes I’ll even bring some friends down there to watch a movie on the projector after classes are done for the day.

Do you have a job on campus? If so, how do you fit work into your schedule?

I have two jobs on campus. I am a resident advisor in the Platt-Howard Hall and a chemistry tutor in the Symbolic and Quantitative Reasoning Center (SQRC). As far as making sure I fit everything in my schedule, what’s most important is planning ahead and beating back procrastination with a stick. Both of my jobs have a pretty unpredictable workload, so making sure I get everything done ahead of time ensures that nothing gets left behind.

How has Lewis & Clark changed you?

Lewis & Clark has changed me by letting me be myself. I know it may seem cliché but coming here has been the most freeing experience of my life—both academically and mentally. Lewis & Clark has given me a space where I can discover who I am and who I want to be without worrying about what everyone else might think. I know that I speak for a lot of students when I say that I’m a much different person today than I was when I arrived. But I think that I’m finally me and, for that, I’m grateful.