Student Spotlight: Austin Ahlert
Austin Ahlert grew up surrounded by pets, so it’s little surprise that his career would involve animals.
“I’ve had dogs, fish, frogs and hamsters, and while they’re fun to play with, they're also interesting to watch,” he said. “When we visited the zoo, the variety of animals spurred my interest because of their differences. Each animal is unique in its own way.”
Ahlert studied biology and zoology at College of DuPage. As a Presidential Scholar, he received a full-tuition scholarship and enrollment in COD’s Honors program and the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society. And because he's financing college on his own, the choice was easy.
“COD helped me to finish my general education requirements in a timely and inexpensive matter while providing a very good education,” he said.
After earning his associate’s degree, he transferred to Illinois State University to major in Biology and Zoology. He settled into life on campus easily and in 2015 he landed a summer internship at Summerfield Zoo in Belvidere.
Although he doesn’t have a dream job, Ahlert knows where his interests are leading him.
“I’ve watched shows on Animal Planet that show the diversity of animals,” he said. “I would watch ‘River Monsters,’ ‘Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom,’ ‘The Crocodile Hunter’ and other shows that followed this pattern of one person exploring and searching for animals. I like to see what lives around the world. ‘River Monsters’ is interesting because I like to fish and because of the mystery the water holds. I would never think to find those fish in freshwater close to home.
“I’ve thought about either working at a zoo or an aquarium. I would like to be the person who interacts with the animals and shows them to people for educational purposes. Or I would like to do field research as a zoologist. If the chance presents itself, I may do both.”
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