Hometown: Harrisburg, Pa.
Core has taught me to adapt quickly to new situations. Because we switch between professors so frequently and do so many different types of projects and writing, I’ve been able to speak to groups larger than I had ever imagined (while being confident, too!), and I can fulfill new expectations far faster than students from other schools. This was extremely useful during my nuclear chemistry program last summer at Brookhaven National Laboratory, because we switched between professors each week and we had to give a final presentation in front of a member of the Manhattan Project. (You can only imagine my stress at this!) I managed, though, to keep my cool, and my advisor said my presentation was one of the best he’s ever seen from a student. I truly believe I can attribute this success to my experiences at the HC.
The HC has also allowed me to study abroad in Turkey and Cyprus. Typically, course requirements are so strict for science majors that they don’t get a chance to go overseas and experience new places and cultures. It’s also difficult to justify trips overseas because most science facilities are at universities, not across various countries. The HC’s enhancement fund gave me the chance to pursue travel that did not necessarily relate to my major, and I viewed the trip as worthwhile because it was culturally enriching. I have already used experiences from my study overseas to relate to new people I meet.
Being in the HC is fantastic, crazy, and one of the best experiences in my life. I look back and remember the torture of writing my first thesis paper, my distress when the paper I wrote was not as focused or developed as the professor wanted (that never happened in high school!), and my frustration during meetings for group presentations. I wonder why I put myself through a lot of work for subject areas that weren’t even in my field of study. Then I remember an epic lightsaber battle between Arthur and Mordred in the Great Hall during practice for presentations, seeing the Western Wall in Jerusalem, and debating ethics with a Philosophy major in the lounge at two in the morning on a Saturday night, and I realize that while there’s a substantial amount of work associated with core classes, I enjoy the material and learning. I have yet to meet another Chemistry major that can go into reveries involving Morgan le Fay and carry out an intelligent conversation about Hobbes and his political writings. Living in Whitmyre isn’t just a seven-hour school day, it’s a 24-hour source of education. There are always other students up working, and, just from conversing, I learn an amazing amount about a new topic and can get a helpful critique of my own work. All of the late nights writing both thesis papers and lab reports with my friends (I consider them far more than just classmates) have been worth it. As I near graduation and begin my search for graduate schools, I’m not worried about interviewing with department chairs at other universities, because I know that I have such a breadth of experience that I can converse well on almost any subject. While some of this originates from my own interests and reading, I know a significant portion of this stems from my time in Whitmyre and the HC.
Being a Chemistry major is a work-intensive study area, but once again, I believe that my efforts are worthwhile. I love understanding how things work and interact; chemistry allows me to do this. The courses are somewhat difficult, but the professors are always willing to explain or review with students. Chemistry is one of the majors at IUP where it would be quite difficult to not interact on a daily basis with professors. From research to class and wandering the halls of Weyandt, I know all of the chemistry professors, and they know my name (and even give me a nickname in the case of my research advisor) and know all sorts of things about me. I even know most of the physics, geoscience, and biology professors, just from hallway conversations. I also am struck by how well connected professors are at a small school in Indiana, Pa. When asked about my summer plans, for two consecutive years I’ve had different professors comment about studying or working where I will do research or study, and they can suggest people to contact about jobs or other internships. There are so many amazing opportunities that it’s all up to you for how far you can go and how much you can achieve.
After graduation from IUP, I plan on attending graduate school for physics (either high energy or quantum). Beyond that, I’m not entirely sure. While being a professor is certainly an option, I think I want to focus on research, initially. I really liked the atmosphere of a national laboratory last summer, so perhaps I’ll give that a try.