As a graduate of a New York City high school, I realized that
high school students in urban districts often lack a positive
chemistry experience — I know I did. I joined the New York City
Teaching Fellows program, an initiative designed to help individuals without formal classroom training transition into teaching.
Many of the skills I acquired at Merck and through my under-graduate experience at Barnard College are useful in my classroom. My job as a teacher in an urban school district is similar
to my job as a scientist. Instead of running experiments in the
lab, I run them in my classroom, and instead of using chemicals
I have students. My problem is not discovering novel molecules,
but rather, to find creative ways to help students understand and
appreciate chemistry. Being a teacher can be as challenging as
being a research scientist, and as equally rewarding.
Posted by Alexandra
Employing Science and Life Skills
I’ve always enjoyed chemistry, and have
been involved in it throughout my life. As an
undergraduate student, I also held various
customer service positions and volunteered for
numerous community service projects, which
I enjoyed because of the people-to-people
As I approached my senior year, I still was
unsure of the career path I wanted to take. Research seemed to
be an obvious route, but I wasn’t interested in exploring that side
of chemistry. Then, the ACS student chapter faculty advisor at my
university sent a blurb from the ACS Faculty Advisor Newsletter
that described an employment position in the Undergraduate
Programs Office at ACS. The qualifications for the position includ-
ed strong interpersonal skills, project management skills, event
planning experience, and a degree in a chemical science — qual-
ifications I felt I had gained throughout my college experience. I
decided to apply and was hired for the position.
I now understand how beneficial it is to become involved in
outside activities, especially your ACS student chapter. As an
active ACS student member, you gain many intangible skills —
from planning community service projects, brainstorming innovative ideas, and presenting research posters to planning ice
cream socials and networking at ACS meetings — all of which
can make you a more well-rounded chemist and qualify you for
I obtained many of the skills that qualified me to work at ACS
through my volunteer work. I encourage you to become more
involved in your chapter activities. Involvement will expose you to
and qualify you for numerous opportunities and career paths in
Gaining the Motivation to Move on
I love forensic science and the idea of mixing
a physical science with a social science. I
became a chemist knowing I needed a background in a physical science to become a
forensic scientist and was more interested in
chemistry than either physics or biology.
In 2004, I graduated with a B.S. degree in
chemistry with an emphasis in forensic sci-
ence. My degree, coupled with hands-on experience using GC,
HPLC, and MS in undergraduate labs, earned me a position in
the forensics lab at MedTox Laboratories in St. Paul, Minnesota.
My main responsibility was to screen and confirm meconium
samples (the first feces of a newborn baby) for illicit drugs. The
confirmation process involved using solid- and liquid-phase
extraction techniques coupled with GC-MS to quantitatively
determine the amount of drugs in the sample.
I quickly discovered that I wouldn’t be happy in a lab tech
position; the work was too repetitive and not challenging enough
for me. However, the experience motivated me to pursue a Ph.D.
in chemistry. Today, I find that I still enjoy combining chemistry
and social science and hope to incorporate that into my future
Posted by Susan
JiM;BuSH earned a B.S. in biochemistry in 2005 at Union College in
Schenectady, NY, and is a quality control scientist at AMAG Pharmaceuticals
in Cambridge, MA.
puJeeta;CHo WdHary graduated with a B.S. in biochemistry in 2007 from
the University of Texas at Austin and worked for two years as a chemist for
PharmaForm in Austin, TX. She is now pursuing a master’s degree in public
health at the University of California, Berkeley.
aManda;Barro W graduated from Union College in Scheneetady, NY in
2008 with a degree in chemistry. She currently works for the U.S. Patent &
Trademark Office in Alexandria, VA.
aLexandra;SeVerino earned a B.A. from Barnard College in New York,
NY, in 2005 and worked as a chemist for Merck for two years. She has since
completed her masters and the Teaching Fellows Program and teaches at
Union City High School, Union City, NJ.
audLey;Burke graduated from Morgan State University in 2008 with a B.S.
in chemistry and currently works for the ACS Undergraduate Programs Office
in Washington, DC.
SuSan;BraStad received a B.S. in chemistry from Carroll University
in Waukesha, WI, and worked as a laboratory technologist for Med Tox
Laboratories in St. Paul, MN. She is currently a fifth-year physical chemistry
graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.