What kinds of experiences have you had at Saint Michael’s that you feel have been very influential to who you are as a person?
The two big things for me are the Extended Service Committee and the LEAP retreat, both of which I’ve done a lot with. I went on a trip to Buffalo my freshman year and I got on the committee my sophomore year. I’ve been on the committee ever since, helping to coordinate the trips and organize them, and work with staff and students. And that’s been awesome. The other thing is the LEAP retreat, which is run through Campus Ministry. It’s been really influential for me to get to know a lot of people in Campus Ministry, and it’s been helpful going on the retreats and giving a talk on them.
Would you say that there’s been any one person that’s been influential?
Bret Findley is the guy I’m working with. He’s my advisor for chemistry, and I had him for Physical Chemistry, which for chemistry majors is a year-long sequence. I worked for him last summer; he’s a lot of fun to work with and a lot of fun to be around. He’s a funny guy, because I know if I go to ask him a question, we’re just going to get off topic and I’ll be sitting in his office for 45 minutes just talking about random things, which is great! But I’ve had to recognize that if I go into his office, I’m going to be there for a while. Which is fine, I love it. Also Jason Moore who ran the LEAP retreat, he left a year ago. I got to know him pretty well and I still try to keep in touch with him. And Kate Floyd and Heidi St. Peter, both of whom work in MOVE. Those are some of the people I’ve just enjoyed getting to know, people who’ve helped me through random different things.
What is your summer research project?
I was working on it last summer too. I’ve actually been working on developing, or finishing, the development of a lab experiment for Physical Chemistry. Professor Findley’s been working on it for a couple of years, and has two other students working on it too; I’m the last one. This summer we’re trying to put the finishing touches on, to get it out and published soon. It deals with solvatochromism; we’re putting dyes into different solvents, and looking at how the solvent affects the color, and how the color will change. There’re lots of different things you can do with it, so we end up running it through UV Viz and through the fluorimeter. We can really quantify the color that we’re seeing and we can look at the color changes, and then there are some mathematical treatments we can go through to calculate changes in the dye due to the different solvents.
What made you want to do summer research?
Last summer I was between two things, and it was mostly that I’m not really sure that I want to pursue chemistry afterwards and I thought I should take some time to see what I think about working in a lab and doing research over the summer. This is a different kind of research; it’s some teaching research rather than doing straight research stuff. This summer it ended up being because something else fell through and professor Findley offered to have me work with him again; I said absolutely, I’d love to. He’s a lot of fun to work for. Last summer it was definitely me trying to slowly figure out, is this really what I want to do or not?
What do you feel is the value of a Saint Michael’s education?
For me, it’s that I’ve appreciated being able to do a thousand different things. I am a Chemistry Major, and I’m very much ingrained in the sciences, but I’m able to take other random classes that I’ve always wanted to take, like political science and philosophy. I can get out and do a bunch of stuff with MOVE and Campus Ministry. I’ll go play Frisbee with the Frisbee people sometimes. Just all the little things, I’ve come to appreciate all of those, and I don’t think I necessarily would have gotten those at a school that wasn’t such a liberal arts school like St. Mike’s. It’s just the little things like that that I really enjoy. I do like the small school a lot. A lot of what comes out are the personal connections and getting to know people, and I think that’s easy to do at a small school.
What advice would you have for future students?
Don’t do just one thing, but don’t spread yourself too thin. I’ve really enjoyed doing a bunch of different things and not just being a Chemistry Major. I work in the chemistry labs. I’m glad I’ve done stuff in the chemistry department, and I’m glad I’ve done stuff outside of the chemistry department as well.
What is the mark you want to make on the world?
I want to help people, somehow, though I’m not sure how. One thing I’ve been thinking is to possibly go into medicine after St. Mike’s. It’s something that I’m still thinking about; I’m not sure what I want to do, but I think medicine could be a way for me to do that pretty effectively.
If you had the opportunity to thank those who’ve made your Saint Michael’s journey possible, what would you say?
I’m really thankful for the opportunities. I don’t know if it’s this way at a lot of other schools, but I’ve found that a lot of people who work here are St. Mike’s grads, and I feel like that says something— that a lot of people feel passionate about this place and want to come back and give more to this place. I appreciate that. Who knows where I’ll be in five years, I have no idea, but I know that St. Mike’s is a place I would love to come back to, because I love it here and I’d love to give something back to it. I’m thankful for the people who’ve done that as well.