TC3 Student Earns Prestigious Summer Internship; Set to Pursue His Passion at ESF

Person standing at a lab table with various specimens in front of him.

It might have been an unconventional path, but Collyn Dungey’s journey has led him to discover his passion. After graduating in TC3’s Class of 2024, the next stop is a prestigious summer research internship and then starting at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry this fall, pursuing a degree in environmental resources engineering.

With encouragement from Professor Kelly Wessell, Dungey applied for and was selected to the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory Internship Program at the Columbia University Climate School, where he will spend the summer assisting on research that looks at the effect of climate change on the calcification of oyster shells. He says the connections he made with people like Professor Wessell are what made his time at TC3 so special. “Kelly Wessell has been an inspirational professor and mentor to me,” said Dungey. “I could not have asked for a more motivating and thought-provoking instructor. He always took the time to go in depth on topics I was curious about, and his discussion-based approach to learning kept my curiosity going even after the classes ended. He has challenged me to be the best student.”

Challenge accepted, as Dungey excelled and found his calling for biology and ecology. But it wasn’t always easy, especially having been out of school for nearly a decade. “It was a challenge to re-learn how to be an effective student,” he said. “When I made the decision to go back to school, I knew I wanted to start out at a community college, with small class sizes so that I could form connections with faculty and fellow students.” He started with an online class, and when that went well, came for a tour of campus and knew TC3 would be a good fit. Along the way, he discovered an advantage of being a non-traditional student – he was able to rely on prior life experience to help organize his time and priorities. “I figured out a routine that worked for me, and focused on taking advantage of every opportunity I was presented.”

After the research opportunity this summer, it’s off to SUNY ESF, where Dungey will continue to pursue his passion. “I am grateful for the sense of direction that I found at TC3.”