Grace Hruska ‘19, Geologist

This week, we’re very excited to highlight Grace Hruska ‘19 from Gamboa, Panama. 

Grace graduated from Pitzer College with a double major in Geology and Environmental Analysis. She was a two-time All-American and one-time Second Team All-SCIAC (Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) selection. Throughout her college tennis career, Grace played at all three doubles positions and at several singles positions (between No. 4 and No. 6 singles positions). She reached the finals of ITA (Intercollegiate Tennis Association) West Regionals Doubles Championship with Lea Lynn Yen ‘16 in 2015. By the end of the 2015-16 season, Grace and Lea Lynn qualified for the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Doubles Championship, and held the No. 10 doubles ranking in Division III. During the Fall of 2016, Grace reached the semifinals in the singles competition of the ITA West Regionals and won the doubles title with Joy Kim. This Sagehen duo finished in fifth place at the 2016 ITA Oracle Cup Division III Doubles Tournament. At the 2017 ITA Division III National Women’s Team Indoor Championship, Grace and her teammates won their first two matches to reach the finals; they were also awarded the ITA Team Sportsmanship Award for displaying outstanding sportsmanship, character, and ethical conduct. Meanwhile, in singles action, Grace earned outstanding wins against several top-ten teams, including Amherst, Bowdoin, and Carnegie Mellon. After coming back from a major knee injury in her senior year, she not only served as a key leader to the No. 5-ranked PPWT (Pomona-Pitzer Women’s Tennis) Team but also claimed doubles wins over four SCIAC opponents and Gustavus Adolphus College with three teammates (Arianna Chen ‘19, Lucy Jiang ‘19, and Jay Kim ‘20).

Off the court, Grace was a very active member of the 5Cs (Claremont Colleges) community. She worked as a research assistant for Geology Professor Robert Gaines and as a photographer and events staff for the Pomona-Pitzer Athletics Department, while also serving as a member of Pomona-Pitzer SAAC (Student-Athlete Advisory Committee). In her junior year, Grace was elected to serve as a student liaison for Pomona’s Geology Department. The following summer, she conducted an independent summer research project, which she discusses later on, and simultaneously worked as an assistant at the Pomona College Organic Farm, helping to jumpstart a beekeeping project and assemble weekly farm share boxes. Under the supervision of Professors Jade Star Lackey and Nicole Moore, Grace researched and wrote a senior thesis titled “Titanite Ages and the Cooling History of the Sierra Nevada Batholith.” 

After graduation, she worked as a research assistant to Professor Lackey at Pomona College through a post-baccalaureate fellowship funded by the NSF (National Science Foundation), presented research at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America, and mentored seniors as well as Mineralogy and Petrology students. While she still lived in Claremont, Grace would also volunteer her time to join the PPWT Team at practice and give doubles advice to younger Sagehens. She now works as a Physical Science Technician and Field Assistant at the California Volcano Observatory of the United States Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California.

We were so thankful for this opportunity to showcase Grace and her contributions to the Sagehens, as well as the field of geology. She has also offered great insight into how students can benefit from cross-registration at the 5Cs. 

What was one of the most valuable research experiences that you engaged in during college and why?

Grace: SURP (Summer Undergraduate Research Program)! It was an eye-opening and formative experience as I learned first-hand what research in the science world was like and also got a sense of potential research opportunities or jobs I would be interested in pursuing post-graduation. I was well-mentored and given a lot of independence to take ownership of a project. At the end of the summer, presented my project at a student poster conference. 

Beyond the research, that summer was also amazing because I got to live on campus with some of my closest PPWT teammates. We had the freedom to have fun outside of academics and take advantage of living near the L.A. (Los Angeles) area. 

How were you able to take advantage of the cross-registration through the 5Cs?

Grace: I definitely benefited from the cross-registration system at the 5Cs since I was able to major at Pomona. Though Geology was not offered at Pitzer, I felt so welcomed and cared for at the Pomona Geology Department. To me, the Department feels most like home at the 5Cs. 

What have you learned from being a student-athlete? 

Grace: Playing for the PPWT Team really taught me how to stay organized and prioritize what is important in my life in order to be the most efficient and well-rounded person I can be. It has also taught me a ton about camaraderie and teamwork coming from an independent tennis experience prior to college. Overall, it has given me a new perspective on tennis and how much greater it feels to have teammates depending on you and working together as a whole toward a shared goal.  

What was one of the most rewarding aspects of playing varsity tennis for the PPWT Team?

Grace: Playing for the PPWT Team gifted me with some of my closest friends and fondest memories from college.

(Images courtesy of Grace Hruska)

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