AMS Freshman Scholarship Winners Reflect on Their First Year

In academic year 2016-2017, the School of Meteorology was privileged to have three of the AMS (American Meteorological Society) Freshman Scholarship winners commit to OU for their Bachelor’s degrees. Over the next week, we will be featuring each of these students; learning about them and their experience during their first year as OU Meteorology students.

Our last student is Jessica Wiedemeier. Wiedemeier is from Austin, Texas and is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Meteorology.

Outside of meteorology, Wiedemeier plays the harp and is involved in the Housing Center Student Association (HCSA). HCSA plans events, makes suggestions to OU Housing and Food based on student needs, and participates in regional and national conferences.

“I primarily participated in the weekly meetings, which focused on updates from the various committees and resident student associations and on identifying problems on campus and corresponding solutions.”

She is also a member of CERT, which is the Community/Campus Emergency Response Team. “While one of the goals is disaster preparedness, we also focus on disaster prevention. I would highly recommend CERT to anyone with an interest in emergency planning”.

Wiedemeier began various research projects in just her first year, including one “project comparing two different types of unmanned aerial vehicles designed to take meteorological measurements with Dr. Chilson through the Four-Year Research Engagement program.” She said, “It was great to work on such a cutting-edge project that had never been done before. I met with Dr. Chilson and my partner every week, but had a lot of freedom in deciding how to accomplish the goals of the project.” Wiedemeier is currently in Bremen, Germany, where she was selected for a research internship validating a new sea ice concentration product. She feels that her research experience at OU is part of why she was selected.

For Wiedemeier, the biggest difference between high school and college from an academics standpoint were the instructors’ expectations.

“The main difference I noticed was in the expectations of teachers versus professors. Most of my high school teachers followed the same general guidelines: expect full attention in class, provide notes to students who are absent, and accept homework late if the student didn’t blatantly skip class. They didn’t really tell students what we would be learning before the lesson started. College professors, in contrast, have a wide variety of expectations. Some expect students to memorize the syllabi, while others don’t even follow them closely. Some professors will accept homework late (it’s a very bad idea to take advantage of this without good reason), but one professor I had this semester wouldn’t accept it after he had erased “Homework #X” from the board at the beginning of his lecture. It’s important to be on top of things as much as possible, but be willing to be flexible depending on the class.”

We asked Wiedemeier if she had any concerns about coming to OU when she initially made her decision: “My main reservation was Oklahoma’s reputation for being boring. I’m still not sure if that reputation is deserved or not; there’s so much to do on and near campus that there are few reasons to go anywhere else.”

Many students who choose to come to the OU School of Meteorology are motivated by the National Weather Center, and Wiedemeier was no different.

“The National Weather Center is amazing. There are abundant opportunities for club involvement, jobs, and internships. There are also weather related events open to the public frequently and there seems to be someone in the building who’s written papers on any question one could have. There was no other school as perfect for me. Between having the best School of Meteorology in the country, the option to play harp as a non-major, the exchange program with the University of Bremen, and the availability of merit-based scholarships, OU was so amazing that I couldn’t see myself anywhere else.”

We are so glad Jessica chose the School of Meteorology at OU! We wish her the best over the next few years in the program!