Student Spotlight: Rachel Durkan

Meet Rachel Durkan, a super-energized student who goes all-out in everything she does!

Rachel and the split coconut

Rachel and the split coconut

Home School: Virginia Tech

Home Town: Malvern, Pennsylvania

Major: Horticulture

Favorite UHM Class: Herbs and Spices. It’s a super interesting and chill class. We recently took a field trip to a small chocolate factory in Chinatown. Itʻs also a very small retail store, but the owner grows the chocolate plants on site and makes the chocolate. I ate a raw chocolate bean.

Favorite Form of Social Media: Instagram. I’ve been posting a lot of my Hawai‘i pictures lately. I also like to write letters and have sent lots of postcards to my friends and to my boyfriend who is studying in Holland right now.

What’s on your iPod? Everything! I listen to reggae when I study and chill out. I also love Lana Del Rey and Rihanna.

What one word would you use to describe yourself? Passionate

What one word would your friends use to describe you? Chaotic and maybe goofy.

Fun Fact: I’m obsessed with orangutans. One of my goals is to go to Indonesia to volunteer and work at an orangutan preservation.

What is your greatest adventure? This semester in Hawai‘i has been one of my biggest adventures! This is the farthest and longest I’ve been away from home. Honolulu is different than I thought it would be. It’s a much bigger city than I expected. I’ve also learned a lot about different plants, things I wouldn’t have learned at Virginia Tech. Over spring break I had a weeklong internship at the National Tropical Botanical Garden on Kauai. It turned out to be a great week, and they even gave me a scholarship to take back to Virginia Tech for next year. One of my duties included weeding out invasive plant species, and I also learned about propagation and endangered plant species on Kauai.

Rachel, on right, with a friend from her Kauai Internship

Rachel, on right, with a friend from her Kauai Internship

Dream Job: My “reality” dream job would be professor for a college, teaching about something I love – plants, and heading up a study abroad program so that I could travel. My “fantasy” job would be to live with orangutans in the wild, studying them and the plants around them.

What’s next? This summer I will have an internship in South Carolina at the Moore Farm Botanical Gardens.

Best Talent: Persistence! It took me 5 years to convince my parents to let me have a dog. I would write them letters, bring home books, and do other things to let them know how much I wanted a dog. Finally after I put myself on a waiting list for a pet goat they agreed to get a dog!

Greatest Vice: I tend to over think every thing I do. It’s been better since I’ve been here. I’ve learned to balance worrying about schoolwork and going out for experiences and adventures. I still go to the library every evening for 2 hours but try to take advantage of the daylight hours and go explore.

Favorite Movie: Stand By Me, or Law Abiding Citizen, the first movie I saw with my boyfriend.

Favorite Book: Time Travelerʻs Wife. My favorite book that Iʻve read here is Tears of the Desert, about the War in Darfur.

Favorite TV Show: Vampire Diaries. I used to watch this show with my little sister before going to college, and now when I call home on Fridays, we always talk about what happened on the show!

The Reality Show I’d Go On: The Amazing Race. My brother would be my partner. Weʻd get mad at each other but would get over it in 2 minutes and get back to the race!

Craziest Ambition: To travel someplace new every year.

Person Iʻd Most Like to Meet: Jane Goodall

If a Movie Were Made About Me, Iʻd Want this Actor to Play Me: Jennifer Lawrence

If I’m cooking we’re having: Something with avocados in it!

Favorite Spot on Campus: The grove of banyan trees across from Hamilton Library. Itʻs super shady there.

Favorite Local Food: Malasadas! When my family visited, we went to Leonardʻs everyday.  

Favorite Hawai‘i Place: The North Shore of Oahu – itʻs so different from Honolulu. I like how itʻs so chill.

Favorite thing to do in Hawai‘i: Go to the beach. I also joined an open water swim club, the “Waikiki Swim Club”, and we go on weekend swims. One weekend I swam with turtles, and once we swam out to the Moke Islands off the east side. Editorʻs Note: most people kayak the long distance to the Mokulua Islands!

Swimming to Mokulua Islands

Favorite Hawai‘i Tradition: Lei giving. One of my goals is to take a lei-making class. Next year at Virginia Tech Iʻll be a TA for the class “Floral Design”, and I hope to show students how to make a lei!

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