Write an essay where you tell us about what drives you in your pursuit of your graduate degree.

When I was deciding which university to pursue my chemistry degree at, a high school teacher of mine suggested that the reason I wanted to attend a polytechnic was to get my "Mrs. Degree". This comment, coming from a teacher who not only held a PhD, but who was someone I looked up to and greatly admired, sparked a fire within me. Hearing someone suggest that I was only pursuing a science career to get married was utterly ridiculous to me, since I had always been so passionate about science. Throughout my undergraduate career I worked hard to prove to myself that this was the right career choice for me. I quickly became involved with tutoring other students. science outreach, and undergraduate research. Here I truly began to blossom as a scientist.
Those words inspired me to participate fully in the scientific community. And without that, I never would have found my passion for research and teaching. Having a chance to get involved with tutoring as an undergraduate and share my passion helped keep my fire alive. Having the opportunity to see students understand the material and apply it themselves was amazing. The students I tutored showed me how important it is to continue my journey into graduate school so that I would have the tools available to me to continue to educate people. Having the chance to interact with so many different disciplines during my tutoring inspired me to use this opportunity to reach outside of my field and look at how the general public views polymer science. If that high school teacher had never suggested I was only going to school to get married, I never would have gotten as involved with the scientific community as I am now, and I think it would have been a lot more challenging to find the drive to continue my education in graduate school. However, now I get to spend every day learning and making improvements to various materials, and knowing that I am making a change in the world.

Karina from Mississippi
University of Southern Mississippi