Major In Chemistry: It Matters

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I am officially back at LMU! I moved into my new residence hall earlier this week and I am just about settled in. I’ve had a busy week already with training for the Lincoln Ambassadors and the Recruitment and Interaction Leadership Students (RAILS). I’ve even got a few assignments already. Today, as this post is being sent out, I’m assisting with New Student Registration, and tomorrow I will be out and about for Student Survival Weekend. I can’t wait to see all the new freshmen and help them as they adjust to their new life here at LMU. After this weekend’s fun it will be time to make some last minute preparations for classes. Starting on Monday I will be thrown back into my beloved world of science, complete with oodles of Chemistry Cat jokes and those funny lab-goggle face marks.

It might surprise you to know that chemistry wasn’t actually my first choice for my college major. Throughout high school I thought I wanted to go into something like architecture or engineering. But when I started visiting different colleges and weighing all my options, I realized that the smaller schools that I was most interested in didn’t offer those majors. Some of them offered pre-engineering programs that would allow me to transition into an engineering major at a bigger school, but I wouldn’t get the one-on-one interaction with my professors that I really wanted.

Mrs. Evans and I at my high school's awards night ceremony.

Mrs. Evans and me at my high school’s awards night ceremony.

It was my high school chemistry teacher Mrs. Joy Evans who inspired me to become a chemist myself. My first class under her was a required introductory chemistry class my sophomore year, and I loved it so much that I signed up to have her again for Honors Chemistry as a junior and then Advanced Placement Chemistry as a senior. Her class was always so fun and exciting, and she made a particularly difficult subject easy for all of her students to understand. She was thrilled when I told her I was interested in studying chemistry, and she wrote recommendation letters for all the schools I applied to and gave me some great advice about how to prepare for chemistry in college.

I decided on pharmacy after researching different careers in chemistry. With a master’s or doctorate degree in chemistry I could teach chemistry or work in a laboratory. I could also go to medical school and specialize in anesthesiology or endocrinology. But I was especially interested in pharmacy because I could utilize knowledge of several different subjects at once, from math to chemistry to business. I also wanted to go into something that would allow me to interact with people personally, and I’ve always admired the way pharmacists take care of their patients. It sounded like a perfect career choice for me! Now I just had to decide where to go to school to get started.

Dr. Everly represented me at my induction into the Alpha Chi honor society.

Dr. Everly represented me at my induction into the Alpha Chi honor society.

What drew me to LMU’s chemistry department out of all the schools I visited was the sincerity of all its chemistry professors. Dr. Stephen Everly, my freshman and sophomore year chemistry teacher and chair of the chemistry department at LMU, is one of the best professors I’ve had at LMU. He challenged me not to simply pass his class but to retain all the information for the future. I left his class knowing more about chemistry than I ever thought I could! One thing that has always stood out to me is that he knew my name on my very first day of class–and he had only met me once before about three months earlier. He takes his time to get to know all of his students individually, and he’s always eager and willing to help anyone who needs it. He’s an excellent mentor for any aspiring young chemist!

Organic compounds called esters are found in many fine-smelling fragrances. We made one in organic chemistry lab--banana oil!

Organic compounds called esters are found in many fragrances. In organic chemistry we made an example of an ester–banana oil!

I’m excited for this stage in my major because I’m getting into more detailed classes that are specific to the students in chemistry. Before this semester, I had taken generic chemistry classes for students of all majors. My freshman year I took General Chemistry, which introduced me to the basic concepts of chemistry, such as how atoms come together to make molecules and how energy is transferred in chemical reactions. My sophomore year consisted of Organic Chemistry, the study of compounds that contain the element carbon. Mrs. Evans had always told me in high school that this would be one of the hardest classes I would ever take, and boy, was she right! There were so many different classes of carbon compounds, and understanding the previous class was necessary before you could move on to the next one. I had never had to study for a class quite like I studied for Organic Chemistry, but it certainly paid off in the end when I passed both semesters with flying colors!

218839_4321197460865_836448923_oMy remaining semesters at LMU will immerse me in special areas of chemistry. This year I will be taking Quantitative and Instrumental Analysis, also called analytical chemistry. I’ve been told it’s kind of like statistics for chemistry, and my new professor says it’s basically a big algebra class. I also get to look forward to Inorganic Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, Math Methods in Chemistry, and Biochemistry, plus a thesis project for the Honors Program that will no doubt also be related to chemistry. It might sound like a lot of hard work, but I’ve got some good friends and a wonderful roommate who are also chemistry majors who can help me get through it!

If you’re interested in studying chemistry in college, I encourage you to learn more about LMU’s chemistry department. We have state-of-the-art labs with some really neat equipment, and our small class sizes ensure that you’ll get personal attention from some of the best professors. You can read more about the program on the LMU website, and be sure to sign up for Preview Day in November to meet real chemistry students and talk to some of the professors.

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