Santa Clara University

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Giving Profiles

Heidi Cossentine

Biology major

While many college students were relaxing and enjoying time off during Christmas break, Heidi Cossentine ’12 was in Puebla, Mexico with 11 other Santa Clara University students helping local families and learning about their culture.

“I learned so much during my trip to Puebla,” according to Heidi, a biology major from Santa Cruz. “Not only did I improve my Spanish language skills, but also developed a deeper compassion for others. I am so thankful that I was able to participate in this life-changing experience.”

While in this town located southeast of Mexico City, she and the other students learned about social and environmental issues affecting residents there. Following her Mexico trip, Heidi attended a University-sponsored trip to Costa Rica, where she conducted her own research study on locomotion techniques and primate adaptations in the tropical rainforests near Tortuguero. Both of her trips were supported by the Santa Clara Fund, generously sustained by alumni to provide scholarships and to further current students’ academic endeavors, on-campus clubs, immersion trips and international study.

In addition to her immersion trip, her academic experiences have been enhanced since her freshman year by weekly research in a faculty biology lab. Heidi’s research has involved studying the genetics of plant defense and its relationship to flower color. “Undergraduates participating in faculty research is rare. It really shows that Santa Clara values its undergraduates,” she said. Her future involves utilizing the academic knowledge she’s acquired with her passion for doing good in the world. With her emphasis in ecology and evolution, and minors in public health and religious studies, Heidi aspires to enter a profession that betters society through the knowledge gained in biological research.

“During my time at Santa Clara, I have personally gained a commitment to social justice and a compassion for people around me,” Heidi said. “My education at Santa Clara University has greatly impacted how I see the world.”

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