Tyra Callaway, B.A. Chemistry, German, Class of 2017
I began studying German at UNCG in my first semester. This was due in part to the general education requirements at UNCG and the Lloyd International Honors College requirements for students completing International Honors. During that first semester, I found that I thoroughly enjoyed studying German. Much to my surprise, it was one of the modern ‘scientific’ languages. Many chemical and physical concepts were discovered by German scientists, and some of these still bore their original German names in English; the Aufbau Principle for example.
Another opportunity I took during my first semester was joining a research lab. In the lab, I was assigned a small project to work on which fit the level of Chemistry I was learning during that year. I worked under the guidance of senior lab members and was able to get an introduction to how basic scientific research was performed. By the end of the year, I knew I loved Chemistry, German, and research.
When I returned to UNCG the next Fall, I continued my work in the research lab, my study of German, and began thinking about studying abroad. Through the help and guidance of many faculty members and staff, I was able to join my budding interest in the German language, Chemistry, and research in a study abroad experience in Germany. This was made possible by a several key steps I took during my Sophomore year.
The first and most important thing I did was to reach out to my professors and inform them of my interest in studying abroad. Professors see many students with similar ambitions and can provide excellent support. Dr. Rinner was the professor that initially convinced me to apply to study abroad for a year instead of a summer AND to apply to the DAAD Scholarship (German Academic Exchange Service). Furthermore, when I did put together an application she suggested revisions which ultimately allowed me to win the scholarship! Without reaching out to professors, I would never know such opportunities were available.
Taking the initiative to ask for opportunities was another scary but rewarding step I took during my Sophomore year. Prior to leaving for Germany, I asked Dr. Kästner, a professor at my host university, to allow me to have a short research experience in his lab. He agreed, and I was able to learn more about an absolutely fascinating branch of chemistry. It was exceedingly challenging but completely worthwhile.
I spent my Junior year in Germany, and it shaped my career ambitions and graduate plans in ways that were completely unpredictable. In short, I loved the new school system and how it challenged me more than anything I ever experienced before. Everything from the research lab I joined to my coursework was hard, but I was learning! (Even if it was at a slower pace than everyone else.)
For my senior year, I returned to UNCG. It was exciting to come back to English coursework and research, but I knew that I wanted to return to Germany. My time in Germany allowed me to realize that while I did love chemistry, I wanted to explore a different branch of science and was interested in different research methods. While I did return to my previous research lab, I also took time to learn about other areas of research at UNCG. This ultimately lead me to decide to pursue a different discipline in graduate school. After much, much research I found my ideal graduate program at Universitaet Ulm. Starting in August, I will begin my Masters in Biophysics at Universitaet Ulm. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities that I have had at UNCG and the support from professors that helped me on my applications, responded to my many silly questions, and taught me about a field I have grown to love.