CSI Success Stories

Michelle Hartwell

CSI Graduate
A.S. Physics, College of Southern Idaho
B.S. University of Wyoming

Currently pursuing a master’s degree in Astrophysics at Iowa State University.

Michelle always enjoyed looking at the stars and has been fascinated by astronomy. She would go out to the Idaho desert with her family and observe the night sky for hours. Michelle had been an active member of the Magic Valley Astronomical Society for almost 10 years and was a telescope operator for the new Centennial Observatory. After completing her associate degree at CSI, Michelle transferred to the University of Wyoming.

Her CSI education laid the foundation of her continued success. She was accepted for an internship with the NASA Academy at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. She was one of 12 students to be accepted into this program. As one of only two astronomers in the group, she worked hand-in-hand with two top researchers in the field of Gamma Ray Bursts by analyzing data from the Swift Telescope. In the summer of 2006, Michelle was accepted into the CUREA program at the Mount Wilson Observatory in California. There she worked with telescopes at the observatory, studying stars and nebulae at night, then the sun by day. Michelle is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Astrophysics at Iowa State University. She is thankful for the excellent educational experience she received at CSI, and for many wonderful instructors and friends.

Michelle’s nominator noted: “Michelle is one of the hardest working individuals I have ever come across in my life. When I speak to her about her college career she always reminds me that the only reason she kept going is because her first years of college were enough to make doors open and she isn’t going to let them close.”

“The way she has grown thanks to CSI is remarkable, and seeing her achieve her wildest dreams helps me get up and go to class every day. I think it is great to see a best friend get so far and gives me the inspiration to think ‘If she can do it, so can I.’”

“Michelle always says that she is glad she went to CSI first. CSI always had instructors that wanted all of their students to succeed. When times got tough in her academic career, she would think how positive CSI was and that she wasn’t going to allow some grumpy professors to stop her at this point. I know Mr. Chris Anderson from the Herret Center is responsible for getting Michelle through some dark and gruesome nights of study and observation with a few kind comments, nerdy jokes, and words of wisdom.”

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Stories were submitted and/or verified for accuracy by the CSI students featured in them. Some of the stories have been edited for content/brevity by CSI staff. The currency of the information presented depends on when the story was submitted or last updated (we have been continually accepting nominations since spring 2007).