Sheena Jimmick has always been fascinated by the stars and planets in the night sky since she was a kid. It was not until she came to Normandale that her passion met academic preparation and set her up to pursue this fascination as a career and academic degree.
When Sheena was about 4-years old, her father would take her outside, point up at the stars and explain how far away they were in light years. He would also tape episodes of Carl Sagan's Cosmos on VHS and watch it with her.
Sheena's passion was always in the background throughout her life. She pursued theatre in high school and was in the Minneapolis cast of the Rocky Horror Picture Show for seven years.
She gave up theatre to pursue a different path, and after living with her sister for a year in Wisconsin, where she attended community college, Sheena decided to look for an academic environment to start pursuing her passion for science. One of her friends, who was familiar with colleges in the Twin Cities, gave her a glowing recommendation for Normandale's STEM programs.
"It was hard to believe Normandale could be as good in the STEM areas as my friend described, but she was right," said Jimmick. "She told me to start at Normandale, because it is even better than starting at a four-year college and that I would get the same quality education, but a more personalized approach from the instructors. As soon as I showed up, it surpassed that reputation in a way I am still surprised by."
Sheena started at Normandale as a ﬁrst-generation adult student and was a little overwhelmed, but she immediately got a glimpse of the resources and support Normandale would provide her.
Physics Instructor Tony Weinbeck, who was a mentor assigned to her through the Academy of Math and Science, played a huge role in Sheena's success. He helped her prepare for the STEM academic path and encouraged Sheena to apply for the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship, which awards up to $40,000 per year for up to three years for outstanding community college students with ﬁnancial need seeking to complete their bachelor's degrees at selective four-year colleges or universities.
Sheena applied for the scholarship with little expectations, but in April 2017 she became one of 55 students to receive the honor in a year where nearly 3,000 individuals had applied.
"The scholarship deﬁnitely helps me ﬁnancially to focus on my academic success," said Jimmick. "I had no expectation of receiving it, and even when Normandale representatives came to class and informed me I was a recipient, it still did not register with me that it was really happening."
This fall, Sheena started at the University of Minnesota with plans to major in Astrophysics. She wants to study exo-planets, which is one of the fastest growing ﬁelds in astrophysics and is full of potential for discovery. Her discovery of Normandale and the fulﬁllment of her potential is something she is grateful for and she is excited about the future.
"My time at Normandale has been a phenomenal experience, and I can't imagine I would be on this path if I had gone to a different school," said Jimmick."