Why study chemistry at a liberal arts college?
With such an abstract field of study like Chemistry, that involves a lot of deep application of knowledge, having a one-on-one experience with a professor provides invaluable opportunities that you keep with you throughout your years at college. Small class sizes foster great student growth, but having a well-rounded liberal arts education helps improve aspects of science that are otherwise ignored within the field such as communication of knowledge or writing.
What makes the chemistry program at CSB/SJU unique?
The curriculum is the most unique part of the chemistry program. The curriculum is unlike any other program that I have heard about. While visiting a graduate school for interviews I talked to students who were shocked that our first year lab students learn to use the techniques that they do. Students are able to go into laboratories and use instruments that are used in the field and really understand their applications early in their chemistry career. The curriculum teaches core principles that develop over the years and eventually lead to students grasping complex concepts through using the initial principles taught early on.
What has your experience with the CSB/SJU chemistry faculty been like?
Nothing less than extraordinary. Throughout these four years I've never had issues interacting with my professors in and outside of class. There are even times once a week where they dedicate their time after normal office hours to go and tutor students at a local coffee shop. They are also looking for every opportunity that is offered to further students' academic and professional success. Just recently a professor reached out to students to help them develop personal statements and fellowship proposals which he didn't have to do, but he wanted to see the students succeed.
What has been one of the greatest challenges you've faced?
The major challenge that I faced throughout college was trying to manage all my time and not overloading my schedule. I was the captain of the water polo team, worked for the chemistry department as a TA, and took maximum credits while wanting to do many other activities as a senior. Eventually I learned to manage my time, but at first it was very hard to keep up with everything.
What advice do you have for students considering chemistry at CSB/SJU?
Take advantage of all the resources that the chemistry department at CSB/SJU provide. There are so many opportunities ranging from in lab TA's to tutors who are assigned specific classes to help students outside class times. They are set up for students to get help, or even go in and do homework with students that are able to help and answer the questions that they may have. Take a class just to see how you like it, and don't feel afraid to ask for help if you need it. There was never a time when I had an issue getting help from a professor if there was a time conflict with a specific tutor session.
How did the chemistry program help prepare you for graduate school interviews?
The chemistry program really raises you for success and left me feeling prepared for the real world. During my graduate school interviews I was able to talk to experts in the field about their research and ask/answer questions that without the chemistry curriculum I would have not been able to ask/answer. Since the program really sets you with a base of knowledge and refines it throughout the years I felt prepared for all the questions that were asked and all I had to do was apply the knowledge that was learned throughout my four years studying chemistry.
What are your plans post-graduation?
This fall I will head out to Davis, California to pursue a Ph.D. in Chemistry at UC Davis. I earned a TA and/or Research position at UC Davis. After graduate school I wish to pursue a career in teaching.