Alexis Hamm is a Biology major working on a microbiology based research project at NEIU. She works with Dr. Emily Rumschlag-Booms exploring alternative mechanisms to overcoming multidrug resistant pseudomonas aeruginosa, one of the bacteria responsible for many hospital acquired infections.
“I was interested in her project because I was previously in the peace corps. I did my service in Morocco in the environment sector. One of the projects I did was an essential oil based medicinal plant project with the women in my cooperative,” she said. “Also, my dad had a lot of health issues so I have a more personal experience in dealing with hospital acquired infections and opportunistic pathogens that have made him ill.”
Her experience in the Peace Corps was difficult and sometimes lonely for her. “It’s definitely hard to live in community. I think the thing that was most frustrating to me was that you’re not able to talk to anybody who understands you,” Hamm said. “That was probably the biggest challenge, overcoming that kind of loneliness that you feel in community. Especially, initially, where there’s this huge communication barrier. And, of course, you can say some things, but there’s not complete understanding. At the end of the day, it’s just you.”
Growing up in a multicultural family in the diverse Rogers Park neighborhood, she spoke about how she was lucky that her parents could afford horseback riding lessons for her from a young age. As a kid she always loved animals and started riding and competing with horses at five years old. After a long break from riding horses, Hamm jumped back in and adopted her first horse, Sasha. She owns three horses now and has been competing for about three years.
While she competes, she simultaneously works to knock out the prerequisites for her masters degree in nursing.
She got her first undergraduate degree from NEIU in geography and environmental studies while working in the S&P 500 Index options exchange. After starting her own dog walking and pet sitting business, getting her second bachelor’s degree in order to pursue nursing has finally landed Hamm in the sciences that she always wanted to be a part of.
“I feel like our classes are really balanced here in terms of representing women and men. I feel like it’s a really good mix,” Hamm said. “I don’t feel like women are underrepresented in STEM in this institution because so many of our facility members are brilliant women. We’re super lucky here. We have some incredible faculty.”