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Alumnus Holly Kundel Named to NSF Fellows List

Augsburg Facebook post congratulating Holly Holly Kundel, a 2015 Forest Lake Area High School graduate, was awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. This fellowship provides Holly with four fully funded years of graduate school, benefits, and the opportunity to teach and do research.  Holly is excited to begin her newest adventure at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, where she will continue her research on dragonflies. Holly was among 2,000 students to earn this recognition out of 12,000 applicants. This honor is just the latest in Holly’s success.

Last year Holly was named a Goldwater Scholar, a national award for top STEM undergraduate sHolly with bio advisor Emily Schilling cientists. Holly has worked three summers and three academic years with Dr. Emily Schilling conducting dragonfly research, funded by donor Dean Sundquist and the M.A. Cargill Foundation. Holly is a co-author on three publications and has presented research findings at numerous regional and national conferences. Holly will be working towards a Master’s of Science in Fisheries and Aquatic Biology at the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities. Upon completion, she intends to pursue a PhD.

Holly will graduate from Augsburg University with a Major in Biology and Minor in Math and Environmental Science.  She has received many honors including - - Latin Honors of Summa Cum Laude, Honor Society Member, Departmental Honors and Honors Program Member.

She has received many scholarships and grants including Conservation Sciences Graduate Student Fellowship Award, Aquatic Biology Fellowship Award and the Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology Award - all from the University of Minnesota.   


To provide further details, we asked Holly to answer a few questions about her experiences with Forest Lake Area Schools. Here’s what she had to say:

What schools did you attend?

I attended Forest View Elementary, Century Junior High, and Forest Lake Area High School.

What experiences at Forest Lake Area Schools helped to prepare you for your life after high school?

Experiences that helped to prepare me for life after high school all come back to the student organizations that I was a part of. Student Council and NHS especially helped me form good communication skills and taught me how to work as a team to host big events and get involved in the community. Also, by taking AP classes (Chemistry, Biology, Statistics and Psychology) and CIS classes (Public Speaking, Spanish IV and V) I felt really prepared my first year of school at Augsburg. I had already developed good study habits and time management skills that many first year college students lack, so I was really glad I had already developed and polished those skills in high school. At Forest Lake, I also had lots of opportunities to give speeches and presentations in class, and that prepared me for the group work and presentations in my college classes, and my research presentations at the state and international level!

Are there any specific staff members that made a real difference in your life choices or success, and why?

As for particular staff members, the first that comes to mind is Mr. Leventhal. Up until I took his AP Biology class, I didn't have much of an idea of what I wanted to do after high school. I absolutely loved that class, I always had a smile on my face because I was just so intrigued by the content. That class also challenged me to be a better critical thinker, writer and scientist. Because of AP Biology, I declared a biology major when first applying to Augsburg, and now I'm graduating with a biology degree. Many students dropped the biology program at Augsburg in their first year of study because they couldn't keep up with the rigor, but having taken AP Biology in high school, I was well equipped to keep up with the difficult content.

Do you have any advice for the students of Forest Lake Area schools?

My advice for current students is to not be afraid to challenge yourself, or step outside of your comfort zone and see all that there is to offer. You never know, something you thought was terrifying at first may turn into one of your favorite things. Also, everything gets better the more you do it, I used to be the worst public speaker, but I took CIS Public Speaking with Newcomb my junior year and ever since then I have been improving, I don't even get nervous when I speak in front of large crowds now. Lastly, always try your best. You can never be disappointed in an outcome if you know that in the end you gave it your all. And when you do give 100% effort, you will be surprised at how far that can take you.