Jennifer Laundrie (USA)

Jennifer Laundrie is a recipient of the JCU Vice Chancellor’s International Student Scholarship. These prestigious scholarships recognise academic and personal excellence and a commitment to JCU’s values.

It’s an absolute honour to receive the JCU Vice Chancellor’s International Student Scholarship, and I feel so blessed to be accepted to a school with a prestigious reputation for biodiversity and biological sciences. Writing the essay was partially cathartic for me, as it signified the welcome transition from my previous life into a new academic journey. I’m grateful to see the hard work has paid off.

Why did you choose to study at JCU?

As a child, I always dreamed of living in the tropics and more recently had my heart set on settling in Cairns. I was at a point in my life and career where I was eager to challenge myself to learn more, be surrounded by a like-minded community, and be actively engaged in a diverse environment rich with wildlife. How can you beat studying a Bachelor of Science (Zoology and Ecology) so close to the Great Barrier Reef, Daintree Rainforest, and the Atherton Tablelands?

What has been a highlight of your time at JCU so far?

This first semester has been exciting and I’m thrilled to be surrounded by dedicated peers. Initially, I was a bit hesitant about returning to study an undergraduate degree as a mature-age student, but so far many of the students across my classes are in a similar position to me. They’ve worked and gained life experience, which has fuelled their passions for the natural world and inspired them to progress their professional lives by returning to study.

I’ve especially enjoyed networking, meeting others in my field, and socialising with the JCU Zoology Society (known as the JCU Nature and Adventure Collective in Cairns). Spotlighting and herping (searching for amphibians and reptiles) are big hobbies of mine, so it’s really rewarding to meet others who enjoy the same activities.

Jennifer Laundrie. JCU Vice Chancellor’s International Student Scholarship Jennifer Laundrie getting up close and personal with her research.

What are your career aspirations?

I hope to apply for honours if my future work-life balance allows it. Entomology (a branch of zoology dealing with the scientific study of insects) and arachnology (the study of spiders, scorpions, ticks and mites) are my passions, and I’m extremely fascinated by venoms.

My previous experience has allowed me the chance to express my passion through public outreach and education and to change perspectives about under-appreciated creatures. I aim to combine what I’ve learned from my degree and my background in zookeeping, to push me along that path.

Eventually, I dream of opening an entomological education facility in Cairns. However, in the meantime, I am very open to whatever opportunities present themselves.

What is your advice for prospective international students?

It’s a privilege to be living overseas. If it’s your dream - push yourself and do it. It will change your life and outlook, and open doors to opportunities you didn’t even know existed. The international students I’ve met so far are all similar in that we're the type of people who are willing to take risks, as the possibility of stagnation seems worse than what could go wrong. We’re the kind of people who are willing to push past our boundaries to achieve our goals, even if they seem impossible.