Rylin McGee posing in ice wall

Charting a path to the Arctic, and for herself

Rylin McGee has traveled thousands of miles and forged new curricular pathways — daring moves in pursuit of goals she developed as a middle school student.

As a young teenager, McGee made herself two promises that would take her out into wide open spaces. First, she would pursue a career as an astronaut, which is the reason she enrolled in chemistry and Russian language courses. Second, she vowed to visit Russia, an interest that developed into a broader concern for the Arctic.

During the spring of her junior year, Rylin McGee studied abroad at Irkutsk State University in Irkutsk, Russia.

Although Richmond does not have an Arctic Studies program, its faculty are willing and creative partners for students with internal drive. Throughout her first two years, McGee collaborated with her professors to orient research assignments and independent studies to learn more about the issues affecting the Arctic.

With their help, she identified a semester long study abroad program at Irkutsk State University in Russian Siberia. The experience led to an opportunity to serve as a youth ambassador at a major Arctic conference just above the Arctic Circle in Norway less than a year later. It was another important step toward the future she is defining for herself. 

After graduating, she spent the summer doing conservation and restoration work with the Kenai Watershed Forum in Alaska and is now working at the Anchorage Museum.


Rylin McGee graduated in 2019 with majors in Russian Studies and International Studies: Development & Change. She earned a U.S. State Department-sponsored Gilman Scholarship to support her studies in Russia. 

Make a Connection
Help further the impact of Spiders
by joining our network.