St. Cloud PROUD

Friday, June 25, 2010


St. Cloud State billboards featuring Intana Chanthirath and a fish from a University aquarium have brought the biology major from Rogers considerably more than her proverbial 15 minutes of fame.

As soon as her bigger-than-life face became highly visible on I-94 near Rogers and in Rochester, Chanthirath was inundated with phone calls, texts and e-mails. Hometown media shared news about the Class of 2009 Rogers High School co-president and honor student “prominently featured on a billboard for St. Cloud State University.”

By the time the billboards went up in March, the Rogers native already was a familiar face to many on campus. She’s invested in an eclectic mix of academic and extracurricular activities, working part time in the Biology Department, playing a range of instruments with the University’s Percussion Ensemble and getting involved in multiple campus organizations. She also plays the clarinet, saxophone, trumpet and baritone.

Chanthirath’s interest in science began long before she chose St. Cloud State. After seventh grade she attended Math-Science-Computer Camp on campus, and throughout junior high and high school she was part of the Scientific Discovery Program. The summer learning opportunities, aimed particularly at underrepresented groups in the sciences, are among St. Cloud State Professor Robert C. Johnson’s acclaimed Pipeline Summer Camp Programs at St. Cloud State. Chanthirath is one of many camp graduates who have attended Pipeline programs and gone on to succeed at the University.

An alumnus of the camps who worked as an adviser in her school district, James Turner, encouraged Chanthirath to attend camp as an elementary student, and she was a regular participant in the programs until her graduation from high school. She entered St. Cloud State with a dream of becoming a geneticist, to study diseases and make discoveries that may lead to cures.

“Intana has always been a cheerful, outgoing student with a great passion for learning,” Johnson said. “As a high school student she found her niche working with faculty in the biology department.”

Biology Professor Matt Julius has been a mentor to Chanthirath during the summer camps and continues to work with her as a college student. “I love working with Dr. Julius,” Chanthirath said. “He’s cool.”

When they learned she was coming to St. Cloud State, Turner and Johnson convinced Chanthirath to take advantage of St. Cloud State’s Advanced Preparation Program (APP), offered through Multicultural Student Services to give students the opportunity to come to campus early and learn about student resources, time management and study skills and to gain social connections while earning two class credits. “I hope people take advantage of APP,” she said. “It’s worth the investment in time. It makes you feel more comfortable on campus.”

“I have been amazed at the number of activities she engages in on campus and the many talents and interests that she displays,” Johnson said.

“I made the right choice to come to St. Cloud State,” Chanthirath said. “I love my job, I love my friends, and the Music Department’s rockin’!”

- Marsha Shoemaker

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