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Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Hamsters And College

By Catya
Catya is a judge with the California Hamster Association. She shares her experiences in hamster ownership from a high school student's perspective.

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Catya and hamsters
Hamsters have put many smiles on my face, and maybe a few admission letters into my mailbox.
Catya at a prospective college
Photos Courtesy of Catya
My work with hamsters has contributed to my college opportunities.

Hi, everyone! As I write this, I’m about thousands of feet above the United States, flying home from a campus preview weekend at one of the schools I’ve been accepted to. It was a ton of fun! I got to tour their amazing research labs and sit in on classes, and, best of all, I met other prospective students. A lot of them had pets (dogs and cats and guinea pigs), but I seemed to be nearly the only hamster owner there! Thinking about this fact, and checking up with my hamster-sitter while I was gone, reminded me of how much I owe to my hamsters.

It may seem strange, but I know that having hamsters helped get me into the wonderful schools that have sent me “fat envelopes.” I wouldn’t have believed anyone who tried to tell me all those years ago when I got my first dwarf hamsters that keeping and breeding hamsters would help me get into colleges! But it really is true. Although I started out as just a kid who loved hamsters, they’ve really taken me places.

Once I got involved in breeding and showing hamsters with the California Hamster Association, although I didn’t realize it at first, I now had new community involvement that I could put on my college applications. Participating in shows and expos and volunteering time for the club showed that I cared about educating the public, and becoming a youth judge showed that I could take on leadership roles.

Turning my breeding into a research project made things even better. I began my project just to solve a mystery of a gene, but I was able to present my findings at a research conference hosted by a university — not something many high schoolers get to do! Most of the universities I applied to pride themselves on their research opportunities for undergraduates, and the fact that I was already involved in research must have been very helpful in my admissions process.

I am so grateful for all the amazing benefits that hamster ownership has given me — not just the research and the advantage for my college applications, but also the love and affection that I’ve been able to share with them over the years.

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Is that MIT I see in the picture? Congratulations!
Donald, Boston, MA
Posted: 4/21/2010 10:03:51 AM
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