Jackpot! Aubrey Featherston: Fantasy novelist, environmental advocate and future dermatologist

A typical day for Aubrey Featherston, a junior environmental studies major and biology and chemistry minor, might include writing, solving a jigsaw puzzle or adding a new plant to her ever-growing collection. Featherston is the kind of person who has to avoid studying in the library for fear of being distracted by books, but the distraction that comes from her own book is harder to escape. In high school, she began a novel and has continued to expand upon it ever since.

“It’s a fantasy novel about dragons and friends and quests and magic and all that kind of neat stuff. It started off as kind of a project for me because in high school, my friends and I had a Discord server where we created a world, and we had countries that interacted with each other. There were rules to it, there were wars and all this kind of stuff. And so I already had my country developed, and I just couldn’t get it out of my head, and I was like, ‘okay, well maybe I’ll start writing a story about my country,’ and then it turned into just a roller coaster of ‘oh no, I’m writing a book,’” Featherston said.

Featherston now works on her novel as part of Trinity’s Creative Writing program. Within this club and others at Trinity like Eco Allies, Featherston has found a home. In fact, from the moment Featherston set foot on Trinity’s campus, she knew she had found her place.

“I was never really that passionate about any sort [of college]. All the tours left me feeling still very iffy, but then I came to Trinity, and on my tour, literally every student we passed waved ‘hi.’ It was like, ‘Trinity’s great, come here,’ and we passed by the baseball field and all the players stopped playing and ran up to our tour and all waved at us. No other school had — none of their students had interacted. I went home that night, finished my application, and submitted it, and I was like, ‘If I get into Trinity, I’m gonna go to Trinity,’” Featherston said.

As a student on the pre-med track, Featherston had the freedom to choose any major, so she decided to pick something that really spoke to her. Majoring in environmental studies was the natural choice for her.

“It was like, well, pick something I’m actually interested in. And so that ended up being environmental studies. I’m really big into the environment. I like learning things about our natural world. I like having discussions about climate change and what I can do and how I’m supposed to vote,” Featherston said.

In medical school, Featherston hopes to study to become a dermatologist, but she also has an alternative plan.

“The skin has always interested me. With any kind of internal medicine, you really only get what the patient tells you verbally, and I think that in medicine, I would like to work with something that I could see. But a secret part of me also wants to be a sea kelp farmer and live on the Pacific coast and be a doctor by day and, over the weekend, the sea kelp farmer. And then another part of me wants to move out in the country and build my own cottage and grow my own food and garden and have ducks and just live out a nice little hermit life. So general plan, be a dermatologist, but secretly I’m always running away,” Featherston said.

Featherston has additional, more general plans as well. Last New Year’s Day, Featherston made a resolution that she managed to keep: to go outside of her comfort zone and try new things.

“I am definitely a creature of habit. When I go to a restaurant I’ve been to, I order the same thing every time. I have the same routines, I eat the same foods. I was like, ‘I have to break the cycle. I have to be different this year.’ And so, every week, I did a new thing. I feel like now people ask me things that I know in the past, I wouldn’t normally have said yes to. I traveled to four new states, I started trying new recipes, I went to a silent disco, I did more yoga classes, I swam with dolphins, I tried crocheting, I wrote letters to people,” Featherston said.

Featherston is adamant about trying new things and the impact that breaking routines has had on her life, and she has an additional piece of advice to share.

“Don’t take life too seriously that it hinders your ability to enjoy it. It’s okay to not spend 30 minutes studying if you’re going to spend those 30 minutes having dinner with a friend and talking to them about how their life is going, or it’s okay to do things you enjoy even if you think you’re supposed to be doing something else or you feel like it’s unproductive. It’s okay to have a day where all you do is lay in bed and watch movies because you really want to,” Featherston said.