Diana Cater

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Diana Cater photo
Diana Cater photo
Diana Cater photo
Diana Cater photo
Diana Cater photo
Diana Cater photo
Diana Cater photo
Diana Cater photo
Diana Cater photo

Anticipated graduation year: 2013

Majors: Biology and English (Writing)

Birthplace: Portland, Ore.

Hometown: Monitor, Ore., but, to be specific, I'm not from any town. I grew up on the family farm, living in the same house my great-grandparents built. I had a rainy, cloudy, misty, mossy, muddy, completely enchanted childhood. Salamanders abound!

Whitworth activities/clubs: Assistant managing editor for Script, Whitworth's student-run literary journal; intern for Rock & Sling, Whitworth's national literary journal; Whitworth Admissions Office assistant; Spokane Outreach Center Volunteer.

Research/special academic programs: Intern at the Spokane Regional Health District, Department of Disease Prevention and Epidemiology (Summer 2010); intern at Deaconess Medical Center's Department of Laboratory and Pathology (Summer 2010); intern at Oregon Health and Science University's Department of Public Health (Summer 2011). This spring, I presented a research paper at the National Undergraduate Literature Conference about Gibson Girl fashion in Harper's New Monthly Magazine, 1899. In fall 2012, I will do research with the ever-wonderful creative nonfiction professor Nicole Sheets on – what else? – science writing.

Whitworth off-campus study programs: Next year I'll be going on the Core 250 Jan Term trip to Italy, France and Britain. I'm dying of anticipation!

Favorite music artist/group: Hard to say. I'll be listening to Yo-Yo Ma one minute and Deadmau5 the next. My mother is a classically trained musician and I still love the soft, elegant music I grew up hearing her play, but I also can't deny that there's a 15-year-old boy inside me who just wants a lot of noise.

Favorite book: I could never have just one favorite book, but I do have a favorite book memory. When I was 15, I read my first nonfiction book, The Hot Zone, by Richard Preston, and was so enraptured that I took it everywhere. I even read it behind my textbook in Algebra II. Science writing has been one of my favorite genres ever since (go figure!).

Favorite movie: The Nightmare Before Christmas. I have a soft spot in my heart for quirky animated films: Mary and Max, My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, Persepolis, Secret of the Kells, MirrorMask.

Favorite food: Plain yogurt. Preferably Greek, preferably Fage. I once said that I could eat nothing but yogurt for a day, and then I did. It was awesome. My friends call yogurt "Diana food." I have been known to go shopping for yogurt at 5 a.m. because I refuse to eat anything else for breakfast. Love makes you do crazy things.

Favorite quote: "Always keep your eyes open. Never go to sleep in the car. Keep watching, because whatever you see out the window can inspire you." – Grace Coddington

You'd be surprised to know that…I can come across as shy and quiet, but in high school I was a speech and debate team aficionado. I took home two gold medals from state championships, was a finalist at the national level, and I'm still kind of surprised about the whole thing. Writing and preparing speeches is such an addictive challenge! You have to be intensely self-aware, to know what you want to say and how you're going to get others to listen. I imagine one day I'll bore my grandchildren with tales about my killer expos visuals. You know, like how your uncle talks about football, only infinitely nerdier.

If I could try anything and not fail: This is probably the part where I say something very noble, but to be honest, I would write a children's book. I've always been inspired by Brian Jacques, Grahame Greene, Roald Dahl, Neil Gaiman, Lois Lowry, Gary Paulson, and of course, Lewis Carroll. The books you read when you're little never leave you – especially your first big-chapter book! It would be amazing to write something that became a glowing part of someone's childhood, like The Big Friendly Giant was for me.

If I could go on a road trip with anyone (from the past or present): I would go with my beautiful, brilliant, best friends Aly and Alice. Aly and Alice and I (try saying that five times fast) have a penchant for tea parties, so naturally we would head to the United Kingdom and ask someone to explain what crumpets are. Oh, and we'd be a little intellectual, too: we'd pop over to the Warner Bros. Harry Potter filming studio to pet a Hippogriff. You know. Sophisticated stuff.

What I like best about Whitworth: How personable and inspiring the professors are. They are genuinely eager to know their students; to help them wade through seemingly insurmountable questions, like "Gee, what am I doing with my life?" When I tell my friends at larger schools that every professor I've ever had knows me by name, they can hardly believe it. Whitworth students are so blessed.

What I plan to do after graduation: It will take a lot more prayer and contemplation before I'm completely confident answering that question. My plan since I was a sophomore in high school has been to pursue a career in epidemiology. I'm interested in understanding the connections between health disparities and disease, and would love to devote my life to serving others in that way. But I also recognize that I have a real passion and talent for writing, and hate the idea of a life where that skill atrophies. I know that God is going to put me exactly where I'm needed, but since I'm not entirely certain where that is, for now I'll say that my future is TBA. Really, isn't it always?

The most important life lesson I've learned in my time at Whitworth: College definitely requires you to think about what you believe, but mostly on paper – not in practice. Test your ideas outside of the academic safe zone and earn your opinions instead of borrowing them from someone else. The most important experiences of my life have occurred during my public health internships, where problems that were once only ideas to me – drug use, infectious disease, prostitution, street violence, sexual abuse – became real when these were the battles my clients were facing. Suddenly, I was the one who had to make real decisions, and in so doing I learned that I was made out of tougher stuff than I ever imagined. I also collected a pocketful of opinions that really felt like my own. The Whitworth internship office and my professors were so helpful finding ways for me to plug in off-campus. Think about what you want to learn, ask around, and don't pass up the opportunity to really figure out what you believe and what you're capable of.

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