Our Neighbors....Christiana Goldschmidt
Kids these days. Pretty much all they want to do is text message their friends, download music onto their iPods, and update their MySpace accounts - right?...
Kids these days. Pretty much all they want to do is text message their friends, download music onto their iPods, and update their MySpace accounts - right?
Christiana Goldschmidt, 18, is currently holding down two summer jobs, still finds time to volunteer with her church group, and is preparing to head for Bethel University in the Twin Cities this fall to major in Third World Studies.
And though this talented Cloquet High School grad admittedly likes to "hang out" with her friends," she's also content to settle down with a good book, take a romp with her dog, or set out cross country on a family vacation.
Christiana was born in Toledo, Ohio, and lived there until the age of six, when her family moved to Illinois. When she was 11, they answered a call to Minnesota.
"My dad is a pastor," she explained, "and God was telling him it was time to move on. This was the place that we found."
Her mom, Carla's, family used to come to Minnesota for vacations every year when she was a kid and loved it. So when the Goldschmidt family discovered Cloquet Gospel Tabernacle was looking for an associate pastor and it appeared Christiana's dad, Fred, fit the role, they jumped at the opportunity.
Christiana was going into sixth grade at the time and plunged right into the midst of a busy, active schedule at the Cloquet Middle School.
"I really wanted to be on the swim team," she related, "so as soon as I got into seventh grade, I joined the team and was on it through 10th grade."
In high school, she also played her clarinet in the fall musical and participated in the full orchestra that performed in special events during the school year. She and her brother, Daniel, also played their instruments in the youth orchestra in Duluth, and the two participated in the mime group at church, along with younger sister, Amy.
Following her graduation in June, Christiana now juggles a busy summer schedule working at both Bearaboo Coffee and Alaspa Gas and Grocery in Cloquet.
"Normally I wouldn't call myself a people person," she reflected, "but when I stop and think about it, I do like working at both those places and interacting with the people - so I must be! It's fun recognizing people as they come in. At first, I didn't know who most of them were, but I've liked getting to know them as regulars."
Christiana's summer jobs are primarily a means to an end, however. She has her sites set on pursuing an education and career that she hopes will have a significant impact on the world at large....
"Our family took a missions trip to Haiti for three weeks last March, along with a team from our church," she related.
She said they went down there with the intention of helping to build a pastor's house.
"There was already a church there, but the pastor did not have a house," she said. "The men got the walls up and filled in the floors, but it was hard to get the work done because there were so many kids around since they were out of school that week for the Mardi Gras celebration. The rest of us did a vacation Bible school, hoping we could get them all inside the church so they wouldn't get in the way of the construction. Since my brother and sister and I had been on the mime team at church for a couple of years, we also did some dances and skits. We had a translator so we could tell them some stories and sing songs, and a couple of the nights we went back at night to do testimonies and sermons."
It was the condition of the country itself and its impact on the people's lives that especially attracted Christiana's attention.
"I had never been to a third world country before," she admitted, "and when we went to the markets, I was surprised to discover that although they're growing their own food, the country is still poverty-stricken.
"It seemed to me that if you could develop a good plant that grows faster or is more nutritious, that would help a lot," she mused.
And so, she returned home with a new goal in mind - to set her sights on pursuing a degree in Third World Studies so she could help do that very thing.
And then, as Christiana's senior year of high school began to wind to a close, her life once again was led in a yet another new and exciting direction....
She was taking a College in the Schools economics class with teacher Tim Prosen, who required the entire class to write a paper for the Cargill Global World Challenge on their choice of four subjects related to the economy.
"One of the topics was 'Food Safety,' and a part of that included genetically modified organisms," explained Christiana. "I thought that was super cool, so that's what I chose to do."
She selected as her topic, "Genetically modified papayas and how they saved the papaya industry in Hawaii," after reading about the country's plight while researching an unrelated topic for an English paper.
"It was really hard [to research it]," admitted Christiana. "A lot of the suggested Web sites that came with our packet didn't really have what I was looking for, so I basically had to keep typing in the same phrase many different ways into Google and try to pick through everything. It was easy enough to find one or two good sources, but beyond that it was hard to find specific details. I got really frustrated a few times, but I really wanted to do it."
The research paper she produced on the subject related the fact that after the papaya ringspot virus started infecting the papaya industry and began killing off all the plants, it had a dramatic impact on that element of the economy of Hawaii.
"Once a tree gets infected, you have to kill it because there is nothing else for it," she said. "What they did was come up with a papaya plant that was immune to the virus by putting a little piece of the virus into the DNA of the papaya. Those grew well, didn't get infected and were fine, but the issue now is that some people don't want to eat something that has been genetically modified."
She also discussed the related problems of labeling the genetically modified fruit, cross pollination with unmodified plants and implications for organic growers.
"I started researching this topic in the first place just for my paper," said Christiana, "but now I've decided that it's something I might want to major or minor in - crop improvement, where you can genetically modify crop plants so they grow faster or are more nutritious. Along with my interest in Third World Studies, it just seems like they go together - and I want to make a difference!"
Prosen selected the top two papers in each category from among the students in his two classes and submitted those to the Cargill contest - including Christiana's. Everyone whose paper was submitted was invited to Cargill in the Twin Cities to take a tour and discuss their papers with staff members before submitting them to get some suggestions for improvement.
And in mid-June, Christiana received word that her research paper was among the winners in the competition. She received a cash award for her accomplishment, which she will bank toward her expenses at Bethel University in the fall.
"They have the Third World Studies program that I want," she said, "and I've been told I can do an individualized major and take some of my classes at the University of Minnesota, which has the Crop Improvement."
A justifiably proud mother, Carla couldn't help but hail back to yet another crossroads in Christiana's life that led her to the ambitious goals she is about to tackle.
"I remember having a conversation with Christiana when she was between eight and 10 years old," Carla related, "and she was liking the idea of working with plants and biology. Being a Christian, she also kind of liked the idea of being a missionary, and she was wondering how those other interests might fit in. I said to her, 'You know what? If God puts in your heart that you like science and you think that as a Christian you should share the gospel, it's not a mistake that you like science. He can take whatever desires or skills you have and use them for His good, some way or another.'
"I wouldn't ever have thought at that time where all of that would lead....." Carla smiled softly.