Daffney? Digany? Dienee?

By Lora Hlavsa & Hazel Schaeffer

You may not be able to pronounce her name but you have to admire her spunk. Rocking fiery red kicks that match her nail polish, Biology major Dagný Heimisdóttir’12 sits down with The Mac Weekly to inform us about Icelandic Christmas trolls, being wheelchair bound at Mac, and forensic pathology. How do you pronounce your name? The way I make Americans say it is “Die-nee Haym-is-daughter.” There was one woman who was convinced my name was actually “Daffney” and that I was lying. And then we had some student teachers in high school from Turkey who just couldn’t figure it out and called me “Dig-an-ie.” So they didn’t even get to the last name? No, no. We did not go that far. You have a very distinct style. How do you decide what to wear in the morning? I usually start with whatever’s clean. Weather dependent, plus my mood. I don’t like to wear pants, usually, so I tend to go the skirts and tights route. And then you get into the exciting world of multiple tights on top of each other, which is always fun. Can you tell us about your lipstick collection? And how it’s far too many of them? Yeah, there’s a lot. Gosh, I’ve lost track. There’s like 17, 18 or something. I like them. They make me feel fancy. I have one that’s lilac that I really like, but it makes me kind of look like an alien, so I’m never entirely sure when it’s appropriate to wear it. I always kind of feel like I’m from space. There are certain situations where that’s not okay, but I can wear it around campus because people are nice about that kind of thing, but if I were to go to the grocery store, people would give me the side eye. Your family immigrated here from Iceland. What’s it like being Icelandic, and do you ever travel back there? I was born in Nebraska, so I’m not that exotic actually. We used to go every three years, but when my brother and I were in high school, there just wasn’t really time anymore. Iceland’s absolutely beautiful. Culturally, very similar to here, but people don’t smile as much. It’s just a cultural thing, the ability to keep a straight face. They eat a lot of fish and potatoes. It’s nice. Do you have any favorite Icelandic traditions? We have a really complicated Christmas. It’s great. It lasts like a month. Starting on December 12th, the Christmas trolls come to your house, one per night. And each of them does a different mischievous thing. It’s not really even that mischievous now, it’s just gotten more fluffy in the last 50 years or so as people start to use it as a fairy tale. It’s actually supposed to be quite terrifying. These trolls come to your house and break your windows and scare your sheep and steal your yogurt. There’s actually just one that steals your yogurt. And one that steals sausages. Every year you have to buy new windows. Were you afraid of the Christmas trolls when you were younger? No, actually, because my parents did a really bad job of making them scary, and was more just interesting. You would put your shoe by the front door, and if you were good that day you would get something exciting in your shoe, like a small toy or a book or something. It was very exciting. If you were bad, they would give you a potato. I got a potato once. I threw a temper tantrum in a McDonalds when I was five years old. I insisted on eating the potato. I wanted to make the best out of a bad situation. I forced my dad to help me cook the potato so I could eat it. I had a lot of will. Have you been involved in any sports or student organizations during your time at Mac? I try to go to Mac Yarn. It’s just a room full of knitting ladies. It’s just pleasant. I also played hockey for a year and rugby for a year. Why only a year? I broke my pelvis, and I am no longer to allowed to play contact sports. It’s a bummer. I was in a wheelchair for two months. What was it like being in a wheelchair for such an extended period of time? Not the most fun, obviously. I got really buff for a while. I had some great arm muscles, but then I had my atrophied legs, so it kind of evened out. Mostly I just discovered that the wheelchair friendliness of our campus is pretty bad. If you want to find a wheelchair-accessible door, it’s probably around the back of a building or down a ramp that is too steep. That was rough whenever it snowed, I’d kind of have to skid down. They did have the one room in Kirk with remote controlled doors that I could use. Did anything funny or crazy happen to you while you were in the wheelchair? My first day back from the hospital, my best friend from high school, who goes to Carleton, came to visit with some of his friends. I had just gotten out of the hospital, so I was still on hella painkillers, the really strong ones where you’re not entirely sure where you are at any given time or what you are supposed to be doing. So he came and tried to push me around and stuff, and he decided that it would be really fun to push me down the hill by Shaw Field. It’s not a big hill unless you’re going down it faster than you’re comfortable with and you’re on really strong painkillers. So I just spent the whole time of that little ride, which seemed much longer than I’m sure it was, thinking “I’m going to die, I’m going to die, you’re going to kill me, and I’m going to die.” And he still makes fun of me for it. What have you done the last couple of summers? Last summer I spent three weeks in Iceland with my dad and my brother, which was fantastic, and then I took an anatomy class at Saint Kate’s, which was a semester in five weeks which was intense but fun. The summer before that I worked in Chris Calderon’s lab trying to do research and failing spectacularly. It’s hard. Science moves really slowly. Generally speaking things don’t work. You can try the same thing eight times and have it fail eight different times. It’s just a slow and frustrating process and it’s a lot of work. Now the dreaded question: how’s the job hunt going? Any plans for after graduation? I’ve been applying for stuff in hospitals and university labs because I figure I’m pretty much qualified to move chemicals around and watch what happens when you do that. So, med tech stuff where you test people’s blood and pee, which sounds exciting and smelly. But it also sounds like it would pay me money, which is pretty much my goal. We’ll see. Do you ever feel like we are being prepped here at Mac just to go to grad school? Oh yeah. The thing is, both of my parents went to grad school, so it’s always been this unstated assumption that I will go to grad school too, and I think also people don’t really talk so much about careers here. It’s all just abstract knowledge, which is great, but if I do want to just stop after Macalester and be done, I have no idea what I can do. If you did go to grad school, what would it be for? Well, I have been kicking around the idea of grad school on and off for the last six years. I don’t really want to be a doctor, but I want to be a forensic pathologist. It’s the person that does autopsies and stuff, figuring out how people died. But, I don’t know, you have to go to med school for that, and med school is really intense and scary, and I don’t want to have to deal with actual patients ever, ones that are alive. Why do you want to be a forensic pathologist? It just sounds so interesting. Solving puzzles in a really practical way, there is an immediate effect of what you do, which is good. This would be something that would have an immediate effect and eventually matter, which would be an interesting change of pace from my life right now. Also, if you make a mistake, no one’s going to die—they’re already dead—which is comforting, because I would freak out so much about possibly making mistakes. refresh –>