Natasha Shah, Chemistry, Class of 2021

Why did you pick your major?

This is actually a really interesting question: I actually did not enter Quinnipiac as a Chemistry major. I came into the university as an undeclared science major. My passion for science began early in my childhood and grew substantially in high school where I took AP Biology and AP Chemistry, but I was torn between the two. For one of my Chemistry labs in high school, I had the opportunity to perform an experiment in a university lab setting (which was unreal). The hands-on experience promoted my intellectual curiosity, helped me create evidence-based claims, and provided a positive learning environment. After this experience, I realized that this is the type of environment I wanted to be in. So, about a month before classes started, I decided to declare myself as a Chemistry major!


Why do you like it?

There are so many reasons why I love being a Chemistry major! As a senior, I have a much stronger appreciation for the various disciplines of Chemistry and how each class expanded my level of knowledge. The Chemistry department designs courses that prioritize student learning by requiring students to engage in an independent research project with a faculty mentor. This allows students to showcase their understanding of the core chemical concepts and establish evidence-based claims through critical inquiry. We are so lucky to have incredible faculty members that are welcoming, supportive, knowledgeable, and each one of them offer a unique perspective of Chemistry. Their passion is clearly evident in their style of teaching, and that is what makes me love my major even more!


Do you have a professional field in mind?

At the age of 12, I remember saying, “I want to be a doctor” and I still say it today! I am confident that the skills I am gaining will truly be beneficial to me in medical school. Through volunteering, I learned that I want to work with children in the future and help them on their road to recovery. This summer, I will be applying to medical school in hope of becoming a pediatrician, but I do want to give myself the opportunity to explore an array of other possibilities!


What internships/research/experiential learning have you engaged in to help clarify areas of interest or prepare for life after QU?

Quinnipiac provided me with an array of experiential learning opportunities! During my second semester of freshman year, I was interested in performing research with a faculty member. The Chemistry department has incredible faculty members who are very knowledgeable in their specific field, and also strive to help students succeed. When I first expressed interest in research, Dr. Bandaranayake instantly connected me to Dr. James Kirby who teaches Inorganic Chemistry. I did not realize that one email would mark the beginning of my research journey. During the summer of 2018, I participated in the Quinnipiac University Interdisciplinary Program for Research & Scholarship (QUIP-RS) with my mentor, Dr. Kirby and spent eight weeks examining the cation effect on the redox properties of a europium-bridged polytungstate. It was one of the most beneficial learning experiences that I have ever engaged in. Dr. Kirby encouraged me to share my research journey on a public platform, Sigma Xi Student Research Showcase where I was awarded the Top Undergraduate Student in 2019. Scroll down to follow me through my research journey!

What advice would you give to a student considering your major at QU?

Do it! You are about to be exposed to a multitude of learning experiences that the Chemistry department designed for you. Take advantage of every opportunity and establish a strong connection with your professors and academic advisor. Just remember, that it will be tough! Do not let one bad grade on an exam deter you from achieving your goal. You have come this far and that should not stop you! Think of it as a learning experience: try changing your studying techniques or visiting your professor during office hours. If you are interested in a professor’s research project, reach out to them! One email proved to be so powerful and it was the beginning of my research journey. I truly believe that becoming a Chemistry major was one of the best things to ever happen to me and I wish the same for you.



By Natasha Shah
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