Alumni Posts

A Love Letter to Chemistry.

by Alumni Posts on February 14, 2014

in Academics,After College,Career Paths,College Life

On Monday I had the pleasure of turning my hands blue (Okay, this is totally an exaggeration, but still.). Also on Monday, I had the real pleasure of calculating my engineering physics grade after receiving my very first graded physics exam. Then Wednesday I spent 3 hours with the engineering physics tutor, before going to lab and letting my soon-to-be-an-engineering-major lab partner boss me around.

The other night, after I calculated my grade, I called up my Father, and he told me the story that I always like to hear in times like these, the one about him, my age, studying mechanical engineering down at Rolla. He told me once over break, after I got my Quant Grade back (C+…I survived…BAM), how the average GPA for guys there was, well, a C. And how they were pretty much okay with it because the stuff they were studying wasn’t exactly easy. During my phone chat with him a few nights ago, he once again told me about those Rolla days, and even though I was crying about my horrible, atrocious physics grade, I started feeling a lot better. As Father would say, I’ve been punched in the nose a few times this year, getting into these upper-level chemistry and math classes, and next year isn’t going to be any easier (helllllooo P-Chem!). And while for the past two weeks I’ve been really questioning why in the world I thought pursuing a chemistry degree next year would be “fun” or what kind of job I will get with said degree, I think I’m in the right place. I may spill indicator all over the place and turn my hands blue. I may have to get tutored in the hard classes. I may have to deal with being one of two girls in a physics class off campus with a bunch of engineering guys with big egos (For the record, though, my partner couldn’t remember how to say the word “Meniscus.” Take that!). I may have to settle with knowing that I worked my butt off and still got a C.

But I realized, when Dr. Paine-Saunders today handed me my Quant Lab notebook that Dr. Spudich had given her to return to me from last semester after a run-in with her on the Maryville campus, that all of the stupidity that I put up with this week on my way to becoming a real-live chemist (?) is worth it. Yes, holding my good old Quant Notebook in my hands made me remember how much my mind was blown every time by Dr. Spudich’s ability to figure out why one of our instruments was malfunctioning in lab, or every time I left a lecture. I may not have gotten the best grade in Quant by my old standards (and the same will most definitely be said about physics!), but I feel like I’m really learning this stuff and being challenged and inspired in new and exciting ways. And I really think that maybe I want to someday have some random college student write a blog post about me saying, “She was the toughest professor I had, but man, I learned a lot and for that reason, I think chemistry is pretty cool!” I want to inspire people with my knowledge, too. I want to challenge people. I want to be the one who knows how to fix the Mini Gas Chromatographs when they aren’t working. I don’t want to work in a lab in the chemical industry per se, but teaching…maybe that’s what I’ll do! Over the past few weeks, I’ve felt sheer admiration for all of the awesome instructors I’ve met since changing majors, from Dr. Bookstaver who told me to go into chemistry, from all three of my calculus teachers, to Dr. Spudich, to all of my biology teachers like Dr. Paine-Saunders. Having students admire and look up to me, too…that would be totally, totally, cool (I’m talking zero degrees Kelvin here, that’s how cool.)!

Who inspired you to take the path you’re on? What keeps you going when the courses get tough?

Have a spectacular weekend everyone!

-Carly

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Students writing for Real Life at Fontbonne are paid a small fee for each post by the university.