Outstanding Grad: Sara Pharazyn, Warner College of Natural Resources

Sara Pharazyn
Sara Pharazyn

Sara Pharazyn grew up on a farm in Ohio. When her parents built an addition on their house, a 10-year-old Pharazyn found fossils of ancient corals in the excavated dirt, sparking an early interest in paleontology that continues to today.

She’ll graduate with a degree in geology and experience as a researcher. Over the last year, Pharazyn collaborated with scientists from the Department of Anthropology to hunt fossils in the Big Horn Basin in Wyoming. Her research project recently won college honors at the Celebrate Undergraduate Research and Creativity Showcase.

In high school, Pharazyn was diagnosed with dyslexia and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. She learned how to cope with the conditions, but struggled with her studies during her sophomore year at CSU.

Her grades were suffering as a result, and she asked herself: Do I really want to be in geology?

Pharazyn reached out for help, connecting with Jill Putman, college coordinator for student success in the Warner College of Natural Resources. Putman shared some new learning techniques with the sophomore, who also subsequently worked with the college’s learning center.

“They really helped me,” says Pharazyn, who has served as president of the geosciences club for the past two years and also worked in the Department of Geosciences office for four years.

“It’s a big long process and people don’t really talk about it,” she added. “The struggles are real. As long as you keep trying at what you do, that’s what matters most.”

Determined and positive

Sara Pharazyn
Sara Pharazyn’s interest in paleontology started at an early age when she discovered fossils at her family home.

Putman described Pharazyn as one of the most determined and positive students she’s worked with in geosciences. “She is so committed to her field and profession,” Putman added. “I know that she will continue to spread her passion and love for geosciences in her future endeavors.”

Through her work with the geosciences club, Pharazyn has helped bring alumni and people working in academia to campus to talk about their profession with CSU undergraduates. She’s also become involved in outreach efforts, teaching kids at local schools about minerals and geology.

Following graduation, Pharazyn aims to land a job combining her interests in outreach and education.

“Science is really something that needs to be emphasized,” she says. “I like bringing that concept to classrooms, to tell students that they don’t need to be bored in science.”

In 2018, Pharazyn landed the distinguished student award in the Department of Geosciences. She also received a scholarship to cover the costs of a five-week field camp this summer that serves as her capstone project for geology.