MURRAY, Ky. — Students at Murray State University are consistently going above and beyond, finding new ways to get involved and obtain their future goals.

Molly Karnes, an earth science major from Mount Vernon, Illinois, is one such student. At Murray State, Karnes has sought out opportunities to grow both academically and professionally. Motivated to achieve her dream of becoming a professor, Karnes has worked as a McNair scholar to complete a substantial research project — one she will share with researchers nationwide at a conference in Seattle during the fall semester. This is her story.


Earth science




Mount Vernon, Illinois

High School:

Mount Vernon Township High School


I am president of Geoclub and our student chapter of the American Institute of Professional Geologists. I also volunteer with Conversation Partners, which pairs you with English as a Second Language (ESL) students who want to practice English and learn more about American culture.

If any, what scholarships have you received?

This year, I have received the Regent’s Scholarship; Barbara and Hays Brooks Scholarship; Jeffrey J. and Sallie Clark Endowed Scholarship; and Jesse D. and Deborah C. Jones Scholarship for the Advancement of Math and the Sciences.

What do you want to do after graduation?

After graduation, I will be going to graduate school. My dream is to become a professor.

Who has influenced you the most in your life and why?

My grandmother has always been a huge influence in my life. She taught me to take advantage of every chance to learn something new and to always question the world around me. I was a very curious child who often asked questions she didn’t have the answers to, but she would help me search for an answer in her encyclopedia set.

What hands-on learning opportunities have you participated in during your time at Murray State?

I am a teaching assistant for the department of geosciences. Teaching labs has greatly improved my public speaking skills and has shown me how much I love teaching.

I am also working on a research project for the McNair program with Dr. Michelle Casey, assistant professor of geosciences, that I will be presenting at a national conference in Seattle this October. This project has given me the opportunity to learn more about the scientific process, and I will be able to meet other researchers when I present at the conference.

Why did you decide to attend Murray State?

I first visited because it’s only a couple hours from home, but I decided to stay because of how welcoming the campus was. The campus is beautiful and easy to navigate. The people I met were also incredibly kind.

What is something you’ve accomplished at Murray State that you’re most proud to have done?

I am most proud of my research project. I have put a lot of time and effort into it, and I am very excited to present it this October. I see it as my first major step towards making my dream of graduate school a reality.

What other opportunities have you been afforded at Murray State?

Murray State has afforded me classroom and research opportunities that boosted my self-confidence and allowed me to realize my childhood dreams of graduate school are well within reach.

What advice would you give to incoming freshmen? 

I think it’s important to participate in events and programs on campus. Classes are important, but you must make time for other things. Maybe step out of your comfort zone a little bit and try something new. Some of my favorite things on campus, like Cinema International and Conversation Partners, I would have never seen myself doing when I was in high school.

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