Reason #25 You Should Visit
Annual dance concerts
Class of 2022
Hometown: Castro Valley, CA
Using only a gif, describe your major.
What would you do with your major if you knew you could not fail?
It feels funny to envision a scenario without some amount of failure, as it is such an inevitability in scientific research. I think I would essentially do what I am planning to do anyway, just with a lot more confidence that the research approaches would work as expected. In particular, I would work in research and development in the pharmaceutical industry, contributing to the development of effective drugs that treat aggressive forms of cancer and other currently incurable diseases.
What’s one piece of advice you’d like to share about your time at Smith?
Don't be afraid to make mistakes in your classes—this is the best time to really challenge yourself! The learning community at Smith is so welcoming of boldness and creativity. You’ll get so much more out of your learning experience if you push yourself to be curious and ask questions.
The learning community at Smith is so welcoming of boldness and creativity. You’ll get so much more out of your learning experience if you push yourself to be curious and ask questions.
Describe one moment with friends or classmates that particularly sticks with you.
In CHM223 lab, we were given the opportunity to propose and execute an organic chemical reaction to perform on a natural product. It was the first time we had chosen our own reaction to perform, so we knew that the transformation might not work well on our given compound. I just remember the excitement we all felt when we realized that our reaction had actually worked as we had hoped—the professor and all of us were just so thrilled when we turned on the UV lamp and saw the glowing dot that showed that we had formed a new chemical compound. I think that those rewarding moments are really what we chase as scientists, and it definitely was a special experience that showed me how engaging chemistry research can be.
What has been your favorite spot on campus to brainstorm great ideas? What spot will you miss the most?
I have spent a lot of time in Ford Hall thinking about chemistry, so I will miss all the familiar spaces in that building. I have a lot of great memories from there, talking about chemistry and life in general with my fellow Shea lab members. I also will really miss the dance studios in Mendenhall, where I would sometimes go on the weekend mornings to dance by myself. Dancing helped me clear my mind and gave me a creative outlet here.
What’s your all-time favorite Smith memory?
There are many, but one that really stands out in my memory is during my junior year when I performed in Rodger Blum’s contemporary ballet piece in the Smith College Faculty Dance Performance. During the first part of the opening night performance, the music completely stopped while we were dancing and I remember all of us just kept moving through the choreography, maintaining the rhythm of the music that we knew so well from all the rehearsals. In that moment, it was like we really became one collective mind, all figuring out in the moment how to adapt to that surprising situation without speaking to each other. Afterward, we performed the whole piece from the top with music, but I think that the unusual moment of teamwork, connection and adrenaline really gave us a vibrant energy to our performance that day. It was a really special experience that to me embodies the sense of community and joy that I love so much about dancing, and about being at Smith in general.
What was the most challenging moment in your time at Smith?
I think that like many students, I struggled to find my place at Smith in my first year. It can be uncomfortable to be in a new place with no friends to start out with, but I eventually found friendship and support in my house community, the dance department and the chemistry department.
If you could tell an alum something about your own personal experience at Smith, what would it be?
I really feel that at Smith, I was supported as a whole person, not just as a chemistry major. I was given the freedom to continue pursuing dance while also developing an excitement for chemistry research. Support and kindness, from students and professors, really defined my experience here.
I really feel that at Smith, I was supported as a whole person, not just as a chemistry major.
Who was your favorite professor and what did you most like about their style of teaching?
I am a huge fan of all the chemistry department professors—truly some of the most supportive teachers you will ever find! I have to mention Professor Kevin Shea, my current academic and research advisor, who made organic chemistry feel both exciting and accessible. His passion for sharing organic chemistry stories, his advocacy for bringing more diversity and inclusion into science, and his incredibly supportive mentorship make him a standout professor here at Smith. I also have to mention Professor Rodger Blum of the dance department, who created such a fun and encouraging space for dancers to explore their technique and artistry. Although I am a chemistry major, my continued engagement with ballet has enriched my life deeply, and was a critical part of my education and growth here at Smith.
What was the best advice about your major that you were ever given?
The best advice was definitely from my organic chemistry professors, who always emphasized maintaining a reaction notebook to keep track of important organic reactions. I can’t lie and say that I've always been the best about keeping my notes up to date and organized, but having some system to maintain all this information is undeniably helpful especially if you want to keep doing chemistry after Smith. It’s a habit I plan to sharpen and keep up with during my graduate studies.
What do you want other Smithies to know about the class of 2022?
I think that we’re a very resilient bunch, as made evident by what we’ve lived through to get here. It’s been very odd living through a global pandemic but we have adapted with the rest of the world and learned to make the most of the situation.