Sarah Eiler cannot attest to whether Oprah is a good hugger, despite accidental research during the Agnes Scott College commencement in Decatur, Ga.
“I was kind of in a daze because I was walking across the stage graduating,” Eiler told me via phone about halfway through her two-day drive from Georgia back to Minnesota. “I had intended to just shake her hand and she pulled me in for a hug and was like, ‘Let’s take a picture!’ ”
A picture, you say? “It was a professional photographer but the school hasn’t released the photos yet, so I don’t have access,” she said last week. When we talked Sunday Eiler told me most of the photos appear to have been released by GradImages.com — but not the pictures of graduates with Oprah. My calls to GradImages and a tweet to Harpo Studios yielded no explanation for the photo delay.
The new biology degree holder is the daughter of Elizabeth and Tim Eiler, of St. Bonifacius.
“In the summer I’m starting grad school at St. Thomas, to be a science teacher,” said Sarah. “I LOVE biology; it is the love of my life and I had this wonderful biology teacher [at International School of Minnesota in Eden Prairie], Mr. Lyman-Buttler and I want to be like him. I want to make other people like biology.”
When pressed, Sarah told me Mr. Lyman-Buttler’s first name is Andrew.
With the inspiration of Lyman-Buttler, and a hug from Oprah, there’ll be no stopping Sarah in her determination to educate youngsters about biology.
Q: Did you guys have a campaign to get Oprah to give the commencement address?
A: Yeah. It was partly that and partly one of my classmates was part of [a] graduating class of her [Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls] school in South Africa. The class has been campaigning for the last three years to get her.
Q: How did a Minnesotan end up in college in Georgia?
A: My grandmother graduated from Agnes Scott in 1966. My grandmother [Julia Pensinger] lives in east Tennessee.
Q: How old were you when you got your first microscope?
A: I actually don’t have a microscope. I really want one.
Q: Microscopes have gotten expensive, like a couple thousand bucks?
A: Yeah, for a really nice one.
Q: What was your first science experiment around the house?
A: My mom would say all of the times I left food in fridges and didn’t clean it. [We both laugh.] But there’s a creek in our backyard and when I was a kid, one of my neighbors got a microscope for Christmas, I think. We found a really weird mushroom so we dissected it. I think that was the first time I did any kind of science.
Q: Did you keep a cleaner refrigerator at college than at home?
A: [Prolonged laughter and a pause.] Probably not.
Q: What is something that the newly minted B.S. in biology grad finds too gross to the touch?
A: I don’t know. Touch is not the grossest thing for me. I’m sure there is something that is disgusting.
Q: Refining that question: What is something too gross to touch even with gloves?
A: A rotting pumpkin. I had to clean one up last year, but I touched it with gloves.
Q: How cool is GE’s TV commercial featuring the now late Millie Dresselhaus?
A: Wow! I had to look it up because I don’t see commercials very often. I love it and the idea! It makes me want to buy things from GE since they say they are committed to hiring and encouraging more women engineers and scientists.
Q: How long is it going to take you to become Minnesota Teacher of the Year?
A: [Big laugh.] Probably a long time. I know a previous  Teacher of the Year, my elementary school English teacher at Park Spanish Immersion in St. Louis Park. Lee-Ann Stephens. She just got her Ph.D. this week, too, so she is doctor now.
C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count.