I have asked myself this question many times over the last 5ish years of college ( and so have others). So here is how my college career went….
Came in as a pre-pharmacy major, along with 200 other students at Wingate University, thinking that if I could make it through pharmacy there would be a nice pay check at the end. Had 2 chemistry classes, 2 calculus classes (at 8am EVERYDAY!) , intro into biology and the other courses outside of my major area. Didn’t do very well my freshman year, it was a hard adjustment for me considering high school was very easy for me, which lead me to realize that Pharmacy school wasn’t going to happen! So change of major I was undecided!!!
This year to me can be summed up with one dreadful topic, Organic Chemistry! This was a class that seemed to crush quite a lot of dreams for pharmacy school, but for me it was just on the track for what I needed for a Chemistry degree (still have a undecided major though). Throughout this year I spent countless hours at “the boys apartment” studying till well past midnight for Organic and cramming even later at my apartment with my roomie Danielle. I must give a shout out to the boys though, there were 8 in the apartment, with 3 boys now on their P4 year ( and so is Dani!!!) and one who is a graduate student in Biology at UGA. So needless to say half of this apartment was dealing with the same stress as I was (I didn’t have the pharmacy school applications and GPA requirements though). Studying with the boys, mainly two (Chris and
Papa Bear Jeremy) really got me through this year. The boys were even my lab partners in Physics 1&2 and Organic. It was a sad day though when all of them were into the Pharmacy program at Wingate because I knew they wouldn’t be in my classes for the next 2 years. Well at the end of this year my advisor ( who must have hated dreaded dealing with me changing my major ) put that I was officially a chemistry major.
This year is when things started to turn around, minus the next two sentences. I came into this year switching my major again, this time to a chemistry business degree. I took 2 business classes that fall ( Accounting and Management) and quickly went back to just Chemistry! This year is probably when I got hooked on the idea of really trying to do something with chemistry, all because of research and the classes! This year I took 2 Analytical courses ( learning about different instrumentation ), a Hazardous Materials ( we set things on fire, set off explosions,etc.) and Inorganic Chemistry. All of these being upper-level chemistry courses meant that there was a lot more “real” chemistry involved. “Real” chemistry to me is doing things that involve more than reading a lab manual like a recipe book. I also worked on a basic research project that involved using GC and some GC-MS to try and identify components of two similar aromatherapy oils ( easy and basic, but was a way to start researching). I then went on to getting a summer internship at Goulston Technologies R&D Department (Monroe, NC) working on research involving textiles. This internship gave me the experience to see how it is working in a R&D department and using chemistry in a real-world scenario.
This was my favorite year , if I can disregard the having to think of the what to do after graduation. I went out more, had a lot more fun and still did better in classes. I attempted to improve my Organic Chemistry grades by retaking both classes ( not much improvement in the end) and had the capstone course of any undergraduate chemistry degree, Physical Chemisty. A favorite bumper sticker that was at the ACS regional that year in Richmond, VA explains exactly how I felt after passing it! In the end I did more research ( 4 posters and a possible publications worth), finally found a direction/major, and had to start thinking about graduate programs.
In the end I would say that I eliminated other options of majors and that left me with Chemistry, unless I wanted to spend another 3 years to restart completely. I wouldn’t have thought that at the end of my 4 years at Wingate, I would be graduating with my B.S. in Chemistry, but that’s what happened. To be honest I know that it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the professors that guided me in the right direction (Dr. Hall , Dr. Dahm, Dr. Voegtle (now Clontz)) and for some amazing chemistry/pharmacy friends that made hours of work much more enjoyable.. Chemistry simply became the best option at first, then turned into something that I enjoy studying, a topic that I could see myself in for the future, a possible career path, and something that challenged me on the daily basis.