BY JESS LYNK
If someone is looking for junior Amanda Muir this summer, she can probably be found at the Blank Park Zoo.
“Being at the zoo is one of my favorite activities. I could be at the zoo every single day and not get bored,” Muir said. “(It’s) to the point where I’m working there this summer and I am essentially going to be there seven days a week.”
Muir will be a retail associate, alongside doing research at the zoo.
“You see the kids’ eyes light up going ‘Oh my gosh, look at this cool animal’ and you get to tell them about that and show them your research,” Muir said. “That sharing of my love for something is what I love.”
Muir, an Illinois native, started at Drake as a chemistry major. She took two months of chemistry and said she was “bored to tears.”
“I was really good at chemistry in high school and I thought that would translate to college, but it really wasn’t that exciting,” Muir said.
After meeting with an advisor and listing her interests of animals and the environment, she shifted to an environmental science major.
“Being an environmental science major is a lot of fun,” Muir said. “I get to go out in the field. I really love being outside, so I get to go out in the field and do research out there.”
Some of her research at the zoo involves a bird education program. She asks people about birds that they recognize.
“That helps them be more aware of the animals around them,” Muir said. “… It allows them to identify animals, which is what we do in animal behavior studies. And it allows them to be engage with the exhibit rather than just walking through.”
When Muir is not at the zoo, she is involved in Drake Anime Club in her free time.
“I have probably put in equal if not more hours into (Drake Anime Club) than into some of my other activities, even my major at some point,” Muir said.
One of the events that Muir has put the most work into is the Anime DeMoii convention. Alongside Drake Anime Club, the Japanese Society of Iowa helped the group put together the convention in Olmsted last October.
The club plans the event by inviting vendors, voice actors, panelists and a variety of other groups to come to Olmsted Center for the convention. Muir said it is one of the largest run student events on campus.
The event is free to all community members and brought out around 1,200 people last fall.
“We try to keep it free for the community because a lot of people don’t really have the chance to go to conventions,” Muir said.
According to Muir, conventions can cost upwards of $60 to attend, without the payment of a hotel or transportation.
“That is not accessible to a lot of people,” Muir said. “If you are a high-schooler, you don’t have $60 just laying around … We want to keep it free and open to the community so that anyone can come and enjoy it, especially in Des Moines. There are lower socioeconomic areas here and we want them to be able to experience Japanese culture and experience what a small con would be.”
Muir hopes the conventions may inspire people to possible go into careers revolving voice acting or anything else Anime has to offer.