Alumni Highlight: Kara Brasovan

Dr. Jin recently interviewed one of our alumni, Kara Brasovan. Kara has taken an interesting and exciting career path, enrolling in Law School after her time in the department. It’s important to recognize there are many paths we can take in our careers, and a chemistry major doesn’t limit you to a “standard” chemistry profession.
Here are a few key points from their discussions:
1. What do you suggest to new students and current students in order to help them benefit as much as possible from DePaul and their department?
As young adults, we are trying to create a path to succeed in life and we are still trying to figure out who we are. Choosing the right major and career for ourselves is a difficult task. I felt that the professors I grew close with were able to see that path and realize who I was before I did.  They were then able to help me find myself, choose my major and apply to law school. DePaul faculty dedicate themselves to knowing their students. 
 
To any new and current students, I suggest to get to know your professors, listen to their suggestions and really take to heart what they have to say. If you really enjoy a topic or a professor, you should be proactive. Ask to do research in the department, go to office hours to discuss topics of interest or just make general appointments and meetings to discuss life. Utilize the best resources you are given at a small department- the professors who know you and see you every day. 
 
I changed my major 3 or 4 times before I finally decided on Chemistry. I had no idea what career I really wanted. I felt the advice I was given by the professors who watched my grow throughout my college career was the most beneficial.
researchshowcase2012-05
Kara presents her research at the Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Technology Undergraduate Research Showcase on November 9, 2012.

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Alumni Profile: Erin Wierzbicki, née Gallagher

Erin (Gallagher) Wierzbicki DePaul Chemistry AlumniAssociate Professor and Department Chair, Dr. Lihua Jin recently had the opportunity to talk with Erin Wierzbicki, née Gallagher, who graduated from DePaul in 2012 with a MS in Chemistry. Erin reflects back on her academic career at Depaul, discusses how it has prepared her for her career, and shares advice to current students on how to be a successful student of chemistry.


Accomplished:

  • DePaul University, MS Chemistry 2012
  • Northern Michigan University, BS Biochemistry 2010

Current:

  • Senior Associate, Global Regulatory Affairs at Hospira, a Pfizer company

Previous:

  • Biophysical Scientist II at Therapeutic Proteins International
  • Analytical Chemist II at NOW Health Group

Jin: How did your degree prepare you for your non-traditional career path, and how has your education at DePaul prepared you for what you are currently doing?

Wierzbicki: I earned my BS in Biochemistry in 2010 from Northern Michigan University and my MS in Chemistry in 2012 from DePaul University.

While I was in college and graduate school I always assumed that when you get a degree in chemistry you have two choices; you can go to medical school or work in a lab. I found that as I was looking for a job having a MS was a huge advantage since I did not have any industry experience. After 3 months of searching, I got a job working as an analytical chemist and later as a biophysical scientist, where I worked for about 2 years. I used many of the laboratory skills I had learned and found much of my educational experience being directly applied. However, over those two years I found that being a chemist in the “real world” just wasn’t what I thought it would be and I had never thought I would want to do anything else besides work in a lab. Quite frankly, I didn’t know there were other options.

Enter Regulatory Affairs.

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Alumni Profile: Sophia Robinson

Sophia Robinson DePaul Chemistry AlumniSophia Robinson graduated from DePaul in 2015 with a BS/MS in Chemistry.  Here she reflects back on her academic career at DePaul University’s Department of Chemistry with Associate Professor and Department Chair, Dr. Lihua Jin.

Accomplished: DePaul University, BS/MS Chemistry 2015
Current: University of Utah, Organic chemistry graduate student

Jin: How has your MS study at DePaul helped you reach where you are now, a PhD student at a top research lab in the country?

Robinson: As an undergraduate, I switched my major to chemistry in the winter quarter of my junior year because I was enjoying my biochemistry class so much. I realized I wanted to have a career in chemistry but felt I had not yet put enough time in at the bench to commit to a PhD program. With more experience in the lab, I became confident that I had the passion for research and personal drive to succeed in a PhD program.

Having an MS was somewhat advantageous for my graduate school applications as it showed my commitment to my education and that despite additional years of study after undergrad; I was still passionate about chemistry and research. Chemistry PhD programs are making an investment in their students and as an applicant it is important to demonstrate your passion for research, chemistry, and that you have the drive to not only finish the program but hopefully make important contributions to science during your time there.

Jin: What aspects of your MS study at DePaul have been the most beneficial to you for your growth as a graduate student?

Robinson: By far the most beneficial aspect of my MS study was my research experience. The MS program gave me the opportunity to have my own research project with more independence and also the valuable experience of writing a thesis. Having written a MS thesis, I feel better prepared for how to approach my PhD dissertation and most importantly, stay organized to keep putting the whole story together much easier.

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