Juggling two jobs, multiple clubs and cheerleading with Mines coursework is no easy feat. Arvada native and Mines sophomore in Engineering Physics Libby Booton does just that. Booton works as a TA for Physics 100 and teaches dance to children at the APEX center in Arvada. Between practices for the Mines Cheerleading team and meetings for various on-campus clubs, The Oredigger caught up with Libby to discuss her geekiness and love for Mines.
What made you choose Mines?
I knew I wanted to be an engineer, and it’s super close to home. Staying super close to home was important to me because I have younger siblings. I knew I wanted to be an engineer, and I knew I had an amazing engineering school in my backyard practically. I love the campus. Mines met all the criteria so I did not even apply anywhere else.
What made you choose physics as a major?
To be honest, I had no desire to do anything related to chemistry, and I really enjoyed physics. I (also) was not completely sure what I wanted to do. They (the physics department) had the five-year (master’s) program, and I thought, cool, that gives me more time to decide. Plus, five-year programs are a sweet deal. Once I found out that they had five-year programs in everything I was potentially interested in, I was sold.
Did being a Physics 100 TA help you decide at all?
Yes, because it connected me with physics majors whom I talked to about what physics is and what people do in physics and with physics. That was when I was pretty much sold. I don’t think it was so much being a TA as being connected to other physics majors.
What’s your favorite thing about being a Physics 100 TA?
The “aha” moments. I love explaining something to a student that they clearly never understood before. You get to be the one who finally helps them understand the concept. I had a girl who never understood how a pulley worked. I sat with her for 20 minutes explaining how a pulley works and different ways to think of pulleys. No one had ever explained pulleys to her before, and she still thanks me for explaining that to her. Deep impacts—that’s the best part. Also, helping them get a green box and clearing the frustration. Being the savior who got the green box is pretty awesome.
What’s been your favorite class thus far at Mines?
Probably Intro to Space Exploration. It made me want to go out and be a rocket scientist!
What are your plans after Mines?
I’m going to stick around for a fifth year and get my masters in Mechanical Engineering. Then I’ll hopefully get a job in the Aerospace industry. I want to be a rocket scientist—it would be pretty sick. I like the idea of being a rocket scientist and a mom at the same time. I have a role model Penny (Pettigrew) who is a rocket scientist (at NASA) and a mom. She shows that you can do both because a lot of people say you have to pick one.
Best memory at Mines so far?
I got recruited to race with the planetary EPICS moon buggy team because NASA required a girl to race the buggy. The girl who was on the team couldn’t go on the trip, so I got randomly recruited in Diff EQ by the guy who sat in front of me to go with them. It was the best experience of my life. That whole experience is what made me want to do Mechanical Engineering. He just said, “Are there any girls in here who want a full paid trip to Alabama?” I was like, “ME!” My mom said she didn’t know how she felt about it, but I was sold at NASA.
Do you have any traumatic memories from Mines?
When I was in CSM 101, I had to meet with Chuck Stone for the meet with your advisor assignment. I told him I was interested in physics and ended up getting an entire tour of Meyer Hall for an hour and a half with Chuck’s voodoo doll. I was like held hostage for an hour and a half seeing every inch of Meyer Hall. I saw the particle accelerator, which was pretty cool, not gonna lie. I had to take pictures of me and the voodoo doll and the particle accelerator. That wasn’t so much a traumatic experience as an interesting one. Getting a private tour of Meyer Hall with Chuck Stone and his voodoo doll.
What might we find you doing on a Friday night?
It depends on which season it is. If it is the springtime you will find me in Lockridge Arena cheering at basketball games. Or you will find me playing Cards Against Science with my physics major friends. Or in Meyer Hall 247 doing homework. That’s super lame though. My weekends consist of cheering, nerdy board games and homework.
Would you consider yourself a geek?
I can watch “The Big Bang Theory” and understand everything they’re talking about. So if that counts then yes, (I am) totally a geek. I also get more enjoyment out of playing Cards Against Science than I do playing Cards Against Humanity. And my idea of fun is going to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
What do you do for fun outside of the classroom?
Go to Café Rio. It’s my favorite restaurant. I’ve made so many great friends going to Café Rio.
So, if you had to choose a last dinner…
It would be at Café Rio.
“Frozen”! Just kidding. Actually, it’s not my favorite movie. I really am a sucker for “Cars,” or “The Parent Trap.” I always wanted a sister. I used to watch that movie and pretend like I had a secret sister.
My favorite quote is definitely: “Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
Favorite fictional character?
Olaf from “Frozen.” He’s just so fricken cute and quotable. I have this relationship with Olaf. Olaf just wants to be in summer—he dreams of summer—even though snow can’t exist in summer. Even though snow melts in summer, Olaf still wants to be in summer. He’s like, yeah I’m snow, what’s your point? And here (at Mines) I’m one of six girls out of 70 physics majors (in my class). It’s like, I’m a girl, so what. I feel like Olaf breaks a stereotype about snow and summer. I relate to Olaf. There’s a deeper meaning behind Olaf, or I at least created one in my mind.
I’m kind of a fan of the Schroedinger equation. It’s really fun to write. There’s just so many Greek letters. Psi, its mainly psi. That’s the fun one, and I’m real good at drawing it. Plus, I feel super smart when I’m like, check out this equation I know. People think I’m wicked smart because I can write the Schrodinger equation.
Favorite April Fools prank?
One time, I put wasabi on a chip and told my brother it was guacamole. Kid was drinking milk for like an hour. Best big sister ever! When I was really little, I used to do the thing where you tie a rubber band around the sprayer on the sink. Then they turn on the sink and totally get sprayed in the face. That was my favorite one as a kid.
What’s your favorite part about E-Days?
Ore-Cart Pull. It’s a great experience walking however many miles that is with everyone else. It makes you feel like really close to all of the other students. You just feel like one big pack going down Colfax. Almost like the M-Climb. That bonding experience—you feel like a community with the other students and the school. That’s my favorite part about Mines.
Do you ever have free time? How do you spend it?
My favorite thing to do growing up was dance. Now what I do with my free time is work. That doesn’t sound like free time, but it is. It’s my favorite thing to do. I work at the APEX center teaching dance. I don’t have time to be a part of a dance team anymore, so my favorite thing to do with my non-school used time is work teaching little kids dance. It’s the best part of my week. It really is. Work is the most rewarding part of my week. They’re just all so fricken cute!
What’s on your bucket list?
Before I die, I want to travel the world. I want to go back to Italy, and see all 50 states. I’ve got 19 down so far.
Any advice for younger students?
If you want to do something, do it. Don’t let anyone else change your mind. If you want to major in something or you want to join a club and someone doesn’t agree with it, it’s your choice, not theirs. Don’t let someone else make you think that what you’re doing isn’t worth it. Don’t let someone else bring you down. Also, even though it may not seem like it, everyone else is struggling just as much as you are. You may be going home and crying to your pillow at night, but you’re not the only one. People just don’t show it. There’s a great quote that says failure is not for failures; it’s for everybody. Failures just have more experience with it. Failing is apart of life, and it’s about how you overcome failing, not the fact that you did.