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Being new to the college setting, a STEM major, and/or getting involved on campus can seem overwhelming. Your STEM Peer Mentors have been there and want to share their friendship and wisdom with YOU! Get connected with a STEM Peer Mentor today to:

  • instantly make friends in NKU's STEM community,
  • get help and advice with all things college-related,
  • stay informed about STEM events, research opportunities, and more!
Making your college experience a memorable one has never been easier. Learn more about the mentors below and...
Alisha Detmer - STEM Peer Mentor, Fall 2023

Alisha Detmer

About Alisha

Alisha Detmer

Major: Biochemistry

Year: Sophomore

Hometown: Patriot, Indiana

About Me: I am a member of the Navigators, a Christian organization on campus, and I am in Dr. Guy's research group. I love running, swimming, and horseback riding! I ran the Flying Pig Half-Marathon (in the storm) this spring! It was my first half-marathon, and it sure was an interesting one!

Why I Chose NKU: I chose NKU because of the undergraduate research opportunities. I believed that this school would also prepare me the best for medical school. I believed the research opportunity and the size of the school would benefit me in preparing for medical school.

Why I Chose My Major: I chose my major because I believed it was the best major to prepare me for medical school because a lot of the requirements for the major are required classes for medical school.

Career Goals: My career goal is to become a trauma surgeon (if everything works out in my favor).

Interesting Fact: An interesting about me is that I used to be in theater. I would do plays in my community at our community theater. An interesting fact about my hometown is that Kat Von D. moved there and is my grandma's neighbor. An interesting fact is that sharks can't drive cars because they can't breathe out of water.

Advice to Freshmen: My advice to freshmen is to get to know your professors because they want you to succeed and are there to help you. Also, get involved on campus because that will make your college experience nicer!

Vibrantly colored NKU grounds (in place of missing student photo)

Andrea Cárdenas Echavarría
Engineering Physics

About Andrea

Andrea Cárdenas Echavarría

Major: Engineering Physics

Year: Sophomore  

Hometown: Medellín, Colombia

About Me: I'm an international student and I've lived most of my life in Colombia. I love listening to music and playing the guitar. My favorite bands are Foo Fighters and The Killers, and I can spend hours talking about my favorite songs. I love making things of any sort and I'm always looking up new things to knit or crochet. I'm a member of the Latin American Mentorship Program, the Physics and Astronomy Club, and Varsity E-Sports.

Why I Chose NKU: Not a lot of universities have the option to pursue Engineering Physics as an undergraduate. In addition to that, I love the small class sizes where I can get to know my peers and professors a lot better, and I love how passionate and willing to help my professors are. There's a lot of opportunities to learn outside of class within campus such as clubs and research and great communities to be a part of.

Why I Chose My Major: I've always been a very logical and curious person. I love learning about the world around us and why things work the way they do. In high school I joined my school's robotics team and that's where I fell in love with engineering. In addition, I've always loved math, chemistry and physics and have found a beauty and art in how they work together and make sense. I thought a blend of those would be perfect for me and that's why I chose to pursue a degree in Engineering Physics with minors in Computer Science, Math and Honors.

Career Goals: My goal after I graduate is to pursue a master's degree in either Nuclear Engineering or Aerospace Engineering and then working in the industry. I want to work towards discovering ways to make our planet more sustainable and learning more about the universe surrounding us.

Interesting Fact: I have 5 dogs and 2 cats back home and am very happy to show pictures of them when asked (please ask).

Advice to Freshmen: This is your chance to discover yourself and what you like. Give yourself the chance to explore all the different opportunities present for you on and off campus and don't be scared to ask questions. No one expects you to know everything and people, like your professors and peer mentors, are here to help you.

Bikash Acharya, Fall 2022 & 2023 STEM Peer Mentor

Bikash Acharya
Computer Science

About Bikash

About Bikash

Major: Computer Science

Year: Sophomore

Hometown: Arghakhanchi, Nepal

About Me: I am an international student from Nepal. I enjoy going on hikes, observing dark night sky, and travelling. Oh, I absolutely love playing cricket. So, if you want to play Cricket, let me know. We can have a lot of fun. I also love sharing what I have learned and have been working with the Learning Center at NKU as a Plus-Tutor.

Why I Chose NKU: I love the small class size at NKU and the diversity that NKU has. The research opportunities that even a freshmen can get at NKU was something that attracted me towards choosing NKU. And it has been the best decision that I have ever taken so far. NKU feels like home.

Why I Chose My Major: I took a few programming classes in my freshmen year. I loved writing programs. I was intrigued by how we can write problems we see in our daily life in terms of code. I felt like exploring more within this field and that was when I decided to choose my major as Computer Science.

Career Goals: I would love to work as a software engineer. After getting some experience in this field, I would love to open my own software engineering firm.

Interesting Fact: I am fluent in 4 languages, and I love growing plants.

Advice to Freshmen: Never be afraid to ask questions.

Binayak Shrestha, Fall 2023 STEM Peer Mentor

Binayak Shrestha
Computer Science

About Binayak

Binayak Shrestha

Major: Computer Science

Year: Sophomore

Hometown: Kathmandu, Nepal

About Me: I am an international student from Nepal who is passionate about computing and solving problems. I am also the President of Norse of Nepal who creates events and programs for cultural diversity.

Why I Chose NKU: I chose Northern Kentucky University because of its strong academic programs aligned with my career goals and the opportunities it offers for personal and professional growth.

Why I Chose My Major: I chose computer science as my major because I have always been fascinated by technology and its potential to solve real-world problems. It offers a dynamic and ever-evolving field with vast career opportunities in various industries.

Career Goals: I am planning to work as a software developer after I complete my studies.

Interesting Fact: I love to travel and have traveled to 11 countries so far. I also play flute and piano.

Advice to Freshmen: Use the campus resources as much as you can.

Photo of NKU grounds on a vibrant fall-colored day (in place of missing student photo)

Blake Biddle
Biological Sciences

About Blake

Blake Biddle

Major: Biological Sciences (CMG Track)

Year: Sophomore

Hometown: Lewis County, Kentucky

About Me: Hello! My name is Blake and I’m a Biology Major at NKU. I’m involved in several organizations across campus. Most recently, I took part in summer research through UR-STEM. In my free time, I’m usually hanging out with friends or scrolling TikTok.

Why I Chose NKU: I chose NKU because of the location. I liked how close NKU was to larger cities. At the same time, I also chose NKU for smaller class sizes and more personal connections with organizations and professors

Why I Chose My Major: I chose my Biological Sciences major because I find the content exciting and would like to pursue a career in the field.

Career Goals: In the future I would like to pursue a career in research.

Interesting Fact: My hometown only has one traffic light. My first car was a retired police car. I can play piano and trombone. I love McDonald’s sweet tea.

Advice to Freshmen: Get involved!

Purple, flowering bushes with an NKU building in the background (in place of missing student photo)

Cheyenne Korda

About Cheyenne

Cheyenne Korda

Major: Cybersecurity

Year: Junior

Hometown: Sparta, Kentucky

About Me: I am interested in learning how to hack (ethically of course), I love to read and take photos of scenic views, I am a huge outdoorsy person and love to explore

Why I Chose NKU: I chose NKU because it was close enough to be near family, but far enough to become independent. I felt welcome from the first time I visited with my high school and there was a day that my family and I went to NKU for more information, and I knew before I left that it was the school for me.

Why I Chose My Major: I chose my major because from middle school I had an eye for technology. I took up an interest in programming during my sophomore year in high school and it escalated from there.

Career Goals: Eventually, I want to run my own business within Cyber Security, but until then, I want to get as much experience as possible while making decent money to support myself.

Interesting Fact: I was born in California and raised in Georgia before moving here (Kentucky) my freshman year of high school.

Advice to Freshmen: You don't have to know everything. No one knows where
they're actually going to be in a year, so don't stress if you just don't know yet.

Dylan Mull, Fall 2023 STEM Peer Mentor

Dylan Mull
Biological Sciences

About Dylan

Dylan Mull

Major: Biological Sciences (EEO track)

Year: 2nd year junior/sophomore with junior credits

Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky

About Me: I am a member of CRU (a Christian youth group on campus), German Club, social media ambassadors, and I work at the Newport Aquarium. I have many interests such as collecting things and marine biology. I have been collecting a lot of NKU memorabilia recently, such as Norseopoly. I like collecting things such as this because it intersects with several of my hobbies.

Why I Chose NKU: I chose NKU because it was the most affordable option for me. This was the school that accepted my scholarships to their fullest degree. The main reason why I continue to choose NKU, however, is due to the communities and friends I have been able to find on campus. The truth is I love being a Norse and that is why I continue to choose NKU.

Why I Chose My Major: I am a guest experience specialist at the Newport Aquarium. This position has given me a great appreciation for wildlife. Because of this, I would like to explore positions within biology to see if there is a career with animals that I would be interested in.

Career Goals: I am still trying to figure them out. I am thinking about something to do with animal science, such as marine biology.

Interesting Facts: I collect NKU bobbleheads and have gotten to meet former NKU Presidents Vaidya and Votruba to get my bobbleheads of them signed.

Advice to Freshmen: Find some clubs to join and make friends in them, apply yourself but at the same time don't overwork yourself, and finally make the most out of your college experience.

Evan Welp, Fall 2023 STEM Peer Mentor

Evan Welp
Biological Sciences

About Evan

Evan Welp

Major: Biological Sciences

Year: Sophomore

Hometown: Amelia, Ohio

About Me:  Outside of school, I enjoy spending my time doing anything outside and I am working currently as an STNA at a rehabilitation center. On campus, I am a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity and am also in the Honors College.

Why I Chose NKU: I chose NKU because the campus was not overwhelmingly large. I enjoy the medium sized campus that NKU brings.

Why I Chose My Major: I knew Biological Sciences was the right major for me because it set me up to be successful in my future education.

Career Goals: My career goals are being a Physician Assistant. I have many interests in different fields but currently do not have one that sticks out to me more than the next.

Interesting Fact: A couple interesting facts about me is I am an uncle, and my favorite fast food is Skyline.

Advice to Freshmen: My advice to Freshman is to slow down and do whatever works best for you.

Gaurab Baral, Fall 2023 STEM Peer Mentor

Gaurab Baral
Data Science

About Gaurab

Gaurab Baral

Major: Data Science

Year: Sophomore

Hometown: Arubari, Kathmandu, Nepal

About Me: I am an international student who hails from Nepal, where I have spent my entire life. Seeking new experiences, I made the bold decision to leave my hometown and pursue my college education at NKU. During my time here, I have eagerly embraced every opportunity that has crossed my path. From serving as a teaching assistant for Professor Bo-Kung Kirby, to engaging in summer research with Professor Junxiu Zhou, I have made the most of these valuable experiences. Additionally, I proudly serve as a member of the College of Informatics Ambassador program and hold the position of secretary for Norse of Nepal. I am also a L.I.F.E. fellow starting Fall 2023.

Why I Chose NKU: I chose NKU because of the unique blend of diverse cultural experiences available to its students, combined with the excellence of its computer science/data science program.

Why I Chose My Major: When I first arrived at NKU, I had a clear goal of
graduating with a major in Computer Science. However, as time passed, I found myself increasingly drawn to the realm of data within the field of computer science. This realization led me to switch my major to Data Science, where I could delve deeper into the world of data analysis. I also chose to minor in Biological Science because it helps to explore data-driven research alongside my focus in Data Science.

Career Goals: My career goals involve working with datasets and conducting research. I am eager to learn about data visualization, data analytics, prediction and trend analysis, and other statistical models to interpret and present data effectively.

Interesting Fact: I am fluent in three languages. When I came to NKU, I
already had enough credits transferred for me to be considered as a sophomore. While I have always had a keen interest in reading books, I admit that I have occasionally struggled to maintain consistent reading habits.

Advice to Freshmen: For freshmen, my recommendation is to seize the opportunities that come your way and utilize them to make new friendships and connections. Avoid procrastination and remember to enjoy yourself along the journey. Also, it is important to remember that “There are no Stupid Questions”.

Joshua Osakwe, Fall 2023 STEM Peer Mentor

Joshua Osakwe
Mathematics & Statistics

About Joshua

Joshua Osakwe

Major: Mathematics and Statistics (double major); Minor in Data Science

Year: Sophomore

Hometown: Lagos, Nigeria

About Me: I'm Joshua Osakwe, an international student and sophomore, double majoring in Mathematics and Statistics alongside a minor in Data Science. Beyond numbers, I find my creative outlet in playing the piano and the thrill of solving puzzles and riddles. Campus life is important to me; I'm an Orientation Leader, warmly welcoming new students, a Global Ambassador, fostering cultural exchange, and an active member of the Math and Statistics Club, where we dive deep into the captivating world of mathematical concepts and practical applications.

Why I Chose NKU: NKU’s commitment to academic excellence and it’s welcoming, inclusive community made it the perfect choice for me, even all the way from Nigeria. I knew I could pursue my passion here.

Why I Chose My Major:  I am passionate about both Mathematics and Statistics because of how they reveal hidden patterns in everything around us, from predicting trends to understanding the world at deeper level. Additionally, I’m delving into the world of Data Science to make most of our data, using it to create practical solutions to improve our everyday living.

Career Goals: To establish a prominent data science firm on every continent worldwide.

Interesting Fact: I play 7 instruments.

Advice to Freshmen: Embrace every opportunity for growth, both inside and outside the classroom. College is a transformative journey, so don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, meet new people, explore different subjects, and discover what truly inspires you.

Preshika Basnet, Fall 2023 STEM Peer Mentor

Preshika Basnet
Computer & Information Technology

About Preshika

Preshika Basnet

Major: Computer and Information Technology (Cyber-Security Track); Minor in Information Security.

Year: Sophomore

Hometown: Kathmandu, Nepal

About Me: I am a second year at NKU (Northern Kentucky University). My major is Computer Information Technology, Cyber Security track. I am a club member of the Norse Leadership Society, and I am in the NKCyber Team at NKU. I am also enrolled in the Cybersecurity Certification program for undergraduates at NKU. I am looking to join the NKY Cyber Defense Team in the future. My goal is to become a Cyber Security analyst and travel to various places. I enjoy sci-fiction movies. My favorite movie is Interstellar. I also love reading adventure and fantasy fiction books.

Why I Chose NKU: NKU felt safe and home and a great campus as I was traveling from far away. I also have my brother here in Lexington, who had visited the campus and insisted I go there because of the campus size as well as secure housing. I have never felt far from home.

Why I Chose My Major: I am fluent in three programming languages. I have learned three programming languages and am excited to learn scripting languages. I am excited to learn more about Cyber Security and concepts that it covers. I wanted to get into Cyber Security field of Information Technology because I want to gain a deep understanding of Information Security and Computer Networks, so I decided to go with CIT which gives me a choice to choose tracks and gain exposure and experience in this field.

Career Goals: I want to become an Information Security Analyst. I am interested in Information Security. My dream job role is CISO (Chief Information Security Officer).

Interesting Facts: I love to brew coffee in the mornings trying out different ones that are organic and healthy. I am obsessed with coffee. I can drink so much coffee that I used to drink five cups of coffee per day a year back but now I only drink two cups per day. I love travelling and seeking new experiences from unfamiliar places and adventures.

Advice to Freshmen: Do not feel you are alone in your time in college during the first year but do reach out to people as advisors and mentors and never hesitate to ask them questions.

Sierra Ison, Fall 2023 STEM Peer Mentor

Sierra Ison

About Sierra

Sierra Ison

Major: Geology

Year: Senior

Hometown: Harrodsburg, Kentucky

About Me: In my free time I enjoy reading, trying new things, going to concerts, and hanging out with my friends and family. I am also a part of the Honors College where I have served as a peer mentor and an ambassador. I am also a SOARs scholar.

Why I Chose NKU: I chose NKU because I liked the smaller feel of the campus and was interested in the smaller class sizes that NKU offers. NKU also has many great programs that interested me and played a factor in going to NKU.

Why I Chose My Major: I started college as a biochemistry major and decided that it wasn't for me, so I ended up taking a geology class after I changed my major from biochemistry and ended up loving it, so I decided to
change my major to geology. I always enjoyed learning about geology and earth science in high school and I think that played a role in changing my major to geology.

Career Goals: Once I finish with my bachelor's I plan to go and get my master's degree. I haven't decided which area I want to focus on just yet, but I have some ideas in mind. I also want to have a job that will allow me to travel because I enjoy getting to see new places.

Interesting Fact: My favorite music artist is Taylor Swift.

Advice to Freshmen: Don't burn yourself out. Make sure you find a balance between school and personal life and make sure that you are taking time to do the things you like and take care of yourself. Don't be afraid to ask questions or to ask for help from professors, TAs, or SI leaders because they are here to help you. Get to know your classmates, they make great friends and study partners.

Sierra Simon, Fall 2023 STEM Peer Mentor

Sierra Simon

About Sierra

Sierra Simon

Major: Cybersecurity; Minor in Computer Forensics and Computer Science

Year: Sophomore  

Hometown: Grant's Lick / Alexandria, Kentucky

About Me: As a first-generation college student, I commute 30 minutes from home to NKU. I'm actively involved in the executive team for the ACM@NKU club and worked on two UR-STEM research projects over the summer of 2023. I also work part-time as a receptionist at Grant’s Lick Veterinary Hospital since June 2020.

Why I Chose NKU: I chose NKU because it is close to my home, which allows for an easy commute, and because I received multiple scholarships that cover the cost of my education. I am grateful for my decision as I have made new friends, joined several organizations, and many of my lifelong friends also attend NKU.

Why I Chose My Major: I started with a major in Computer Science but switched to Cybersecurity after consulting my advisor in the College of Informatics. I chose a computer-related major because I have a love for learning, and in the field of technology, everything is continuously changing.

Career Goals: My career goal is to find happiness in my job, which includes a positive workplace environment and doing something that I enjoy. I
have always been advised to find something that I love doing - something that I would willingly do even if I wasn't getting paid for it.

Interesting Fact: I have a love for the outdoors, and growing up around horses has led me to ride horses competitively in rodeo events. I enjoy spending time with my animals, boating, fishing, and golfing. I have also played various sports such as basketball, soccer, and softball throughout my life. My favorite vacation spot is Natural Bridge, KY, or any place with a lake.

Advice to Freshmen: My advice to freshmen is to get involved, attend class, start assignments early, and stay organized. Don't be afraid to meet new people, especially in your major, as you'll likely have classes with them throughout your college career. Seek help from your professors if you're struggling with course material. Use tools like Google Calendar to stay on top of important dates, including final exams.

Photo of an NKU pathway lined with vibrant fall-colored leaves (in place of missing student photo)

Sydney Oergel
Biological Sciences

About Sydney

Sydney Oergel

Major: Biological Sciences (CMG Track)

Year: Sophomore

Hometown: Alexandria, Kentucky

About Me: I have two cats and I love animals! I spend my summers in Florida and I love going to the beach and surfing with friends! I also enjoy meeting new people and learning new things!

Why I Chose NKU: I chose NKU because the atmosphere is extremely welcoming and encouraging.

Why I Chose My Major: I chose biology as my major because I have always been fascinated with science and how the human body works.

Career Goals: I am determined to go into the medical field to help others.

Interesting Fact: An interesting fact about me is I love to ski! I also love to travel and see new places!

Advice to Freshmen: Some advice I have for freshman is to go outside of your comfort zone and gain new experiences. You will make some of the best relationships by studying with your classmates and asking each other for help. Live in the moment and ask as many questions as you want!

What is a STEM Peer Mentor?

STEM Peer Mentors are student representatives of NKU's five STEM departments*. This group of campus leaders are chosen for their academic achievements, campus involvement, and passion for their majors. Through mentoring and hosting events, these students fulfill an important role in helping build a friendly and supportive STEM community for NKU STEM majors.

*STEM Departments: Biological Sciences, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Computer Science, Mathematics and Statistics, Physics, Geology, and Engineering Technology

A new cohort of mentors is chosen each semester. Contact us for more information about being a STEM Peer Mentor.