Marygrace Trousdell ’19 on Learning How to Learn

For Marygrace Trousdell, choice and flexibility were absolute musts when it came to choosing a college to attend. “Like many first year students unsure of establishing a major,” she said, “I worried about getting involved in a program not fit for me, but I felt confident going forward at URI. The extent of choice here convinced me that whichever path I choose would benefit me.” Ultimately, Trousdell was drawn to the breadth and depth of URI’s rigorous academics and vibrant social life, including academic fraternities, community service organizations, cultural groups, and athletic associations. She fell in love with all it had to offer, making the move from her Long Island hometown of Huntington, NY, to Kingston, RI.

Trousdell made the decision to double major in Mathematics and Biology, enjoying the interdisciplinary education she received from both the College of Arts & Sciences and the College of Environmental & Life Sciences. She says she benefited from how she was able to challenge herself through thought-provoking classes and conversations with faculty and fellow students within her diverse choice of majors. While those traits drew her to the fields of Mathematics and Biology, what made her stay was something different entirely. According to Plato, his mentor Socrates once stated, “I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.” During the course of her time at URI, Trousdell came to understand Socrates’ message: that it is not what you already know that makes one intelligent, but the receptiveness with which one takes in information they did not know. “One thing I did know for sure was the more I learned, the more I realized I didn’t know and, in turn, the more I wanted to learn,” she said. “The mathematical discipline lured me in this way.” Following her drive to learn, Trousdell became a math tutor, taking joy in seeing the light bulb go off when her mentees understood what she was attempting to impress upon them.

After graduating in May 2019 with a B.S. in Mathematics and a B.A. in Biology, she began a career as a computational science developer at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York. She currently studies the epigenetic regulation of normal and malignant mammary gland development, with an emphasis on the alterations brought by pregnancy. “The interdisciplinary approach to learning encouraged by both majors prepared me for this role,” she said. “It really comes down to developing skills in problem solving; here’s the proposition at hand, here’s the data and here are the tools at your disposal, do something with it.” As for advice for students, Trousdell urges involvement in the URI community as they can, from expanding one’s social circle to strengthening connections with faculty. “Whether it’s spending time with goal-oriented friends or asking your favorite professor about their research,” she said, “this kind of company allows academia to become a lifestyle.”