Nicky Arellano is happy to be home after studying soil and culture in Kenya

The 20-year-old 2011 Graham High School graduate is a junior and honor student at Baylor University in Waco, majoring in geology. Her major allowed her an opportunity to study in Africa for 37 days. 

Her chance to study soils Karungu, Kenya, came when the lab instructor of her petrology class referred her to travel with graduate student and Ph.D. candidate Emily Beverly. Arellano served as Beverly's field assistant, helping her study ancient soils. 

She flew to London, where she met Beverly. From there, they headed to Africa, landing in Nairobi, where they took a cab to the flat they stayed in for five days to prepare for their field site studies.


In Nairobi, the duo met up with three graduate students and a French professor who study paleontology.

After five days in Nairobi, Arellano and Beverly headed to their field site in Karungu, where they studied soils for two weeks. They set up their tent and made their home the best that they could for their time there.

Arellano was joined at the site by Kenyans and other students and professors who studied paleontology and archaeology. Arellano helped Beverly study the soil. The doctoral student was trying to prove that soil deposits of the area they were studying were fluvial, which means it was part of a river system.

During her time in Kenya, Arellano made many friends with the group that was there with her, in addition to locals, and took in many sights — and even received four marriage proposals which she declines, respectfully.

Arellano also visited the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, where she was able to bottle-feed and wash baby elephants whose mothers were killed by ivory poachers. 

Arellano is now settling into a new apartment in Waco and will take what she has learned and use it for her senior thesis. She will receive a bachelor of science degree in 2015.