ADVERTISEMENT
2 /3 FREE ARTICLES LEFT THIS MONTH Remaining
Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.

If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.

ENJOY UNLIMITED ACCES TO C&EN

Education

Deciding On Chemistry

November 28, 2011 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 89, ISSUE 48

I couldn’t help but smile when I read “High School Science”(C&EN, Sept. 12, page 47). I very clearly remember what motivated me to study chemistry, and it’s a story that I have relayed to others many times. It’s a striking example of the potential influence that an adult can have on a teenager with nothing more than a simple comment.

I was 17 years old and canoeing down the Suwannee River in north Florida with my Boy Scout troop. My scoutmaster was a chief chemist at a quality-control lab in an International Minerals & Chemical’s phosphate facility in central Florida. While sitting around a campfire one night with another adult chaperone—who happened also to be a chemist working for IMC—my scoutmaster asked me the typical question an adult asks of a teenager: “So, Joe, what are you going to study in college?” I responded in a typical teenager-like way: “I don’t know. I’ll probably study biology and go to medical school like my father.”

Both chemists sitting with me around the campfire that night simultaneously responded: “Well, you should study chemistry instead of biology if you’re thinking about going to medical school. If things don’t pan out, chemistry is a much better degree to fall back on.” I thought about it for a second. It certainly made sense. I decided then and there to study chemistry and never looked back, and I never applied to medical school. Fate is a funny thing.

By Joseph E. Coury
Houston

X

Article:

This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Leave A Comment

*Required to comment