Hayley Lhotka ‘19, Chemistry

Posted on July 24th, 2017 by

Hayley Lhotka sees science as learning about how the world was made and how intricate everything is. She firmly believes that “everything made is God’s creation”, and she sees the world as magnificent and working together perfectly. Hayley is incredibly interested in understanding how the world works through science. She hopes to go to graduate school after Gustavus to study organic chemistry or analytical chemistry, and wants to be able to “help people in the world”. Hayley says that it would be “super cool” to eventually work either for a company that makes things more efficient for people or for a pharmaceutical company where she could make drugs that would help save people’s lives. She believes that we are here to “further God’s kingdom and help the world”, and she wants anything she ends up doing to be fulfilling this purpose.

There are several talents and gifts that Hayley has that help her as she pursues her vocation. She believes that God has gifted her with intelligence, because “she can naturally learn things pretty well”. This is a gift that she is very thankful for. Hayley also says that God has gifted her with musical talent, which fills her with joy. Additionally, she believes that God has given her the ability to listen to people and care for them. Hayley is thankful for all of these talents and sees their impact in her life.

Hayley is heavily influenced by many key figures in her life. She says that the most influential person in her life is her mom. Hayley describes her mom as having helped her develop her faith and having been a great role model for how to live out her faith and grow deeper with God. She also believes her chemistry advisor has been very influential, as he came from a very diverse path and is “a great role model for learning”. Finally, a key figure in Hayley’s life is her twin sister Alicia. Hayley describes her sister as someone that she looks up to and someone who stays true to her faith through hard situations. From Alicia, she has learned how to “get through tough things by relying on God and prayer”.

Hayley’s beliefs are central to who she is. She believes that “God sent Jesus to die for us, and then Jesus rose again so that we could rise with him and have eternal life”. Hayley believes that God loves her unconditionally and that God wants to have a personal relationship with everyone. She also believes that God gives us the ability to love everyone, “even if we don’t want to”. There are also beliefs that are part of her scientific discipline. Hayley says there are theories that “we all believe in”, such as the Uncertainty Principle that describes the particle duality of an electron. She believes that most scientists, including chemists, agree that global warming is happening because of the strength of the evidence. Additionally, she says that good chemists believe in integrity, giving people credit when their work is used, and producing results that are true. Overall, scientists should help the entire scientific community and not just try to “get [their] name out there”.

There are some scientific issues that scare Hayley as a Christian. One of these issues is the Big Bang. Although she thinks the purely secular explanation would be that particles “just decided to go together and do what they did”, Hayley believes that while, yes, the particles came together to form the universe, there is also something bigger behind those particles. Another scientific issue that worries her is evolution. Hayley says that she “doesn’t really know what to think about it”. She believes that God created everything on Earth, and she personally finds it difficult to believe that “we came from apes”. However, now that she’s looking deeper into evolution, she is more confident about what she thinks. These scientific issues scare Hayley because they’re intrinsically uncertain and because she worries that her viewpoints on them could be seen as ignorant by others in the scientific community.

As Hayley has pursued science as a vocation, she has never really had a point where something she’s learned has made her question her religious beliefs or her faith that God has created everything. However, there are some issues on which she’s changed her mind. Hayley used global warming as an example of what she’s learning in her science classes modifying her beliefs, as before coming to Gustavus she “didn’t buy into global warming”. After seeing the “scientific evidence behind it”, she changed her mind. Hayley says that questioning can be “really difficult”, but it is also very powerful.

Hayley’s faith has changed the way she views chemistry. Instead of “just seeing a bunch of particles”, she sees beauty in what God has created. Hayley has realized the magnificence behind everything working together. She is also amazed by the human body, saying that “how it all works is so amazing”. She finds it hard to believe that it “just” came about without a higher power behind it. Hayley believes that because everything works so perfectly and everything is so well thought out, it’s hard to imagine it happening by random chance. Because Hayley sees the work of God in creation and in science, her deep faith in God informs her scientific studies and vocation.


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