Charles S. Carfagna Jr., Ph.D.
B.S. Chemistry w/ Biochemistry Concentration
Like so many young students entering college, I did not have any idea what I wanted to do for a career. I started my career “pre-med” (my Mother was convinced I was going to be the next Doogie Howser) but realized shortly after that the medicine track was not for me.
I loved the sciences, and my experiences in the chemistry department helped to foster this interest, so it was an easy transition becoming a chemistry major. I was most interested in the varied career paths that chemistry offers. Everything we touch, see, and smell daily has a foundation in chemistry. I may not be interested in being a medical doctor, but I certainly could become involved in research regarding drug synthesis or delivery. This was in the time of “CSI” where crime scene investigation was all the rage, and a career path into forensics is an option. While these are only two examples of careers, it illustrates the variation that chemistry offers, and the excitement this career can offer.
The Chemistry Department at John Carroll University gave me all the tools needed to immerse myself in the field. I knew that a career in chemistry could lead to a career as a research scientist, but what does that entail? Unless you have done research science, I can say unequivocally that you don’t know what kind of monster it can be. I was able to do undergraduate research for two years under the direction of Chemistry Department faculty. Additionally, I was able to spend a summer doing research at the National High Magnetic Field Research Laboratory in Tallahassee. These are unique opportunities for someone at the undergraduate level to develop the skills needed to succeed at the next level, be that in industry, academia, or graduate school. I decided after 2 years of undergraduate research that graduate school was the direction I was going to pursue. As I said, my Mother wanted me to be a doctor, and in a roundabout way I was able to fulfill that wish.
My experiences in the chemistry department at John Carroll University provided the foundation of scientific understanding that was necessary to take my career to the next step. When I started graduate school at Virginia Tech, the transition to work in the lab and in the classroom was difficult, but I felt prepared. I was able to get into the lab and begin working on research immediately, because of the background in research I was afforded working with the Faculty at John Carroll.
If I didn’t attend school at JCU I am not sure where I would be, but I am certain that the experience I had in the Chemistry Department made a huge impact for the person and scientist I am today.