Using Social Media to Communicate Science: Kat Hawley '23
Utica College students who are living, learning, and inspiring others on social media.
It’s been said that Generation Z lives on social media. But with hundreds of thousands of views and followers between them, some Utica College students, like Kat Hawley '23, are doing more than posting party pics. They’re sharing their passions, developing career aspirations, and connecting with others in meaningful—and sometimes unexpected—ways.
Kat Hawley ’23
Hometown: Story City, Iowa
Major: Animal Behavior
@a.kats.life on TikTok
“I originally started my account last summer to be kind of like a video diary, but mostly to scroll [other users’ videos]. From there, I started uploading about my quarantine experience in Burrstone House in August 2020, both as a food diary as I was tracking down new allergens, and to help other college students know what to expect as they began their quarantines to go back to school in person. Now I’m back to posting video diaries and am trying to develop content around science communication.”
My Big (Lunch) Break
“My most-viewed video achieved 1.5 million views and 239,600 likes as of March 2021. This video was of one of my lunches in quarantine. A lot of people were asking questions about what to bring, how the school handled dietary restrictions, what was provided in the room, and other details of the quarantine process. This was at a time where a lot of college students were preparing to go back to their campuses, and I think a lot of folks were scared or anxious about what their two weeks would look like.”
“It’s amazing seeing how my mutuals on TikTok are growing as science communicators. A lot of them have taken on the task of myth-busting COVID misinformation, and they get a lot of questions and a lot of hate for it. I am so inspired by their ability to simplify really big, scary concepts to a point where it is easy for the average person to digest. The community in STEM TikTok is strong and I will forever value the connections and friendships I’ve made because of this app.”
Day in the Life
“My content is just me! I’m always late to trends, and I only upload what makes me happy or excited. Sometimes I do OOTD [outfit of the day], sometimes I talk about science, sometimes I talk about social justice, and sometimes I talk about what it’s like being a student! It's really all over the place, but it very much reflects me and my experience in life.”
“There is a lot of toxicity that creators deal with, but through TikTok I have been able to connect with some amazing scientists who have mentored me not only through social media stress, but through classes, career concerns, and college.”
“I want to pursue my Ph.D. and continue working in higher education as a professor of biology and ethology, and help mentor students through college.”
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