Pioneer Profile

Allison Tomczyk '18

Major: Chemistry (ACS Approved emphasis)
Minor: Biology

What made you choose this major?

I have always been interested in science, so it was only natural for me to pursue a major in the science field. I decided to declare my major in chemistry my sophomore year. At the time, I was taking analytical chemistry (CHE201) and organic chemistry (CHE203/204), and they were the most influential aspects in my decision. I really enjoyed those courses, because I had the opportunity to have more hands-on experiences during labs. Experiments always remind me of solving a puzzle, which is something I find very satisfying and rewarding. Also, I’m generally a person who prefers to work individually. However, in lab, I had the opportunity to work closely with my peers, and I found it was the perfect balance of working independently and collaboratively for me. Since I was very interested in my chemistry courses, I considered pursuing careers in laboratories or chemistry research. The experiences I had in these courses fit well with my personality, passions and long-term goals, so I knew chemistry was the right major for me.

How has what you’ve learned prepared you for your future?

Throughout my courses, I have learned a great range of chemistry concepts, methodology and instrumentation that will be useful in my future career as a chemist. Along with this knowledge set, I learned the importance in working as a team and having confidence in your own abilities. No matter where I end up in my chemistry career, I know having the skills to confidently communicate and work well with others will always be beneficial.

What opportunities have you had to work closely with a faculty member and what impact has that had on your education?

My favorite aspect about Carroll is that I do not feel like another face in the crowd. I truly believe the small class sizes and personal attention I received from professors were influential in my academic success. All of the chemistry faculty professors know me by name and have taken the time to get to know me as more than just a student in their class. It is clear that the faculty truly cares about each individual. Specifically, as a participant in Carroll’s 2016 Pioneer Scholar Undergraduate Research Program, I had the opportunity to work closely with my professor, Dr. Joseph Piatt, on a chemistry research project in partnership with UW-Milwaukee’s Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health. As Dr. Piatt’s mentee, I not only had the chance to build a relationship with Dr. Piatt outside of the classroom, but I also gained so much experience thinking critically, working in a laboratory setting and carrying out the scientific research process. The relationships I have with the chemistry faculty enable me to bring forth my best effort and feel comfortable coming to them with questions about course material or research and internship opportunities.

What’s a unique experience you’ve had relating to the coursework for your major?

A unique experience available to you as a chemistry major is to have the opportunity to apply for the CREATE International Research Program. This program funds selected biochemistry or chemistry majors to travel to a university in Scotland to work on a chemistry research project for a summer. Housing and travel are at no cost to the student, and there is a stipend awarded. The chance to travel to another country for the summer and gain research experience is a unique opportunity that not every school, or major at Carroll, offers. I was chosen as a participant in the 2017 Summer CREATE program, and it is a great honor to be selected by the chemistry faculty to represent Carroll University at Strathclyde University in Scotland.

How has Carroll enriched your growth as a person outside of the skills you’re learning in the classroom?

Even though I am majoring in chemistry, I still am able to explore my other interests. For example, I’m interested in ecology and evolution, and I was able to add a biology minor to explore these interests further. Outside of class, I am an involved member of Carroll’s Chemistry Club. While it might seem like chemistry club members spend their meetings doing chemistry problems, I can assure you that is not the case! Joining chemistry club allowed me to meet people with similar interests as my own. I have met a majority of my closest friends by joining. During my time in chemistry club, I had opportunities to volunteer in the community by participating in Earth Day clean ups and participating in chemistry demos at local elementary schools. Chemistry club also occasionally joins Carroll’s Curling Club, and now, I found a new sport I definitely want to continue with. Overall, my course load has not impacted me exploring other interests-I still have a life outside of class!

If you were recommending your major to a prospective student, what would you tell them?

I know from my own experience that whenever I say I am a chemistry major or mention a science class I am taking, people generally ask me if it is extremely difficult. All majors have challenging aspects to complete, so if you truly have an interest in chemistry, I would not let rumors about the difficulty of a required course deter you. It does require a time commitment to be a chemistry major. At first it felt a little overwhelming, but within time, it becomes part of your routine as you learn to manage your time effectively. If you see yourself in the science field, chemistry is a perfect area to study. Chemistry applies to so many aspects of life and can be a beneficial background for people of several different interests. For example, chemistry can be a great major for people interested in environmental or pharmaceutical work, scientific research, healthcare, industry and production, or forensic science. It is truly a major that can be applied to many fields and areas of concentration.

Why did you choose to attend Carroll University?

I am happy with my choice of attending Carroll University. Because of the small campus, I never feel like another face in the crowd. I know I have an appreciated place in the campus community and have had opportunities that have been beneficial for my academic and professional career. To me, the best part of my Carroll experience has been the relationships I have made with the faculty and students. The people I have met at Carroll truly care, and simply having these great relationships make going through college so much easier and fun!

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