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WSU student Janine Keeler in Hawaii, participating in a three-week field camp on a volcano.

Volcano becomes Wichita State student's temporary home

Wednesday, July 27, 2011
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Living on a volcano is crazy, right? Not necessarily. For Wichita State student Janine Keeler, it’s a dream come true.

The WSU education major and Wichita resident is participating in a three-week field camp on a volcano. At the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes, Keeler is operating tools used by volcanologists, collecting data on active volcanoes and interpreting the findings.

The opportunity to monitor and train on Mount Mauna Loa and Mount Kilauea will be beneficial to Keeler in her pursuit of becoming an Earth and science teacher. Her desire to teach stems from her childhood. Her uncle once built a school table, benches and a chalkboard so she could teach her dyslexic brother how to read.

Now a 50-year-old mother of two and grandmother of four, Keeler began her college career at age 32.

Keeler already has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, minors in psychology, addiction counseling and sociology, and a master’s in anthropology, specializing in incarcerated American Indians.

Keeler teaches supplemental sessions for geology classes.

“I hope to inspire my future students to become interested in science as we need that in today’s world,” she said. “I also hope to transfer my knowledge on a college level to the WSU students who attend my supplemental instruction sessions. I want all of my students to know that despite age, gender or disability, they can achieve their dreams.”

Toni Jackman, a professor in geology in WSU, introduced Keeler to the summer field camp opportunity and recommended her for the experience. Jackman often posts such opportunities for students.

Living on a volcano

Keeler was chosen to be one of 16 people to participate in the camp. The group is staying in hostel-style dormitories. They are learning topics in physical volcanology, gas chemistry, ground deformation and seismology. Then students will present case study reports in groups.

With the help of donations from a fundraiser and her supporters, Keeler paid $1,785 for the field camp. WSU paid for her airfare.
Keeler plans to record her experience through a handwritten journal. She says her friends call her “a modern-day Robinson Crusoe, primitive as can be” because she does not use a mobile phone, have Internet or cable TV.

She will complete the field camp on Aug. 5 and return to WSU to continue her education degree.

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Created on Wednesday, July 27, 2011; Last modified on Friday, July 29, 2011