May 11, 2022
On Campus

2022 Senior Salute: Amanda Lam

Chemistry Major Shares Her Wittenberg Experience

Amanda Lam, Class of 2022

Major: Chemistry
Minor: Educational Studies and Political Science
Hometown and State: Westerville, Ohio
Why Wittenberg: “A picturesque campus, emphasis on holistic education, and a respected education program sealed the deal for me in choosing Witt. I became devoted to Witt because of the rich human connections I made in the chemistry department and across campus. (I've said the only reason I'd leave is if all my professors left.) It's been said that the greatest human need is to feel understood; my devoted friends and steadfast mentors took time to honor the many bits and pieces that make me who I am. To those who shared their diverse facets with me, you taught me through your stories about the highs and lows that define what it means to be human. I have abundant affection for the half-dozen chemistry folks who challenged and uplifted me to grow as a chemist, scholar, and decent human. You embody the ‘light’ in our motto and you made Witt a home."

1. Welcome Week T-Shirts: I helped with Welcome Week every single year as a peer mentor and orientation assistant. Being a peer mentor is one of my most cherished experiences. I'm so proud of my mentees and all that they've achieved. Thanks for bringing chaos and camaraderie to my life. I was privileged to cheer you on.

2. Lab Notebook: I took Dr. Justin Houseknecht's organic chemistry courses my sophomore year. I found his exuberance about o-chem (organic chemistry) to be almost unsettling, until I found myself being excited by the content. The o-chem lab became my "happy place" because I felt comforted by the rhythm of the syntheses. I was not a whiz kid in lab by any means and, in fact, I once told my lab partner, "I'm never sure if my hands are just itchy [from being dry] or if I got acid on them."

3. Chemistry Glassware: I was a lab TA for three years and got to TA for every single professor in the chemistry department at least once! I was the TA for general chemistry I & II, organic chemistry I & II, and analytical chemistry. I did it all! Because I had a tough time in lab as a student, it was gratifying to be able to reassure my peers that making mistakes was ‘OK’ and a vital part of learning. (Just PLEASE take my safety recommendations seriously!) Students would apologize for being the last to leave lab. I loved to confess to them, "I always left lab last or almost last" and see their relief.

4. Organic Chemistry Textbooks and Model Kit: I had a blast in my o-chem classes. I collaborated (and colluded) with my classmates, and as a class we created a few inside jokes. It motivated me to become an o-chem professor myself and to research effective teaching practices. I'm committed to a chemistry Ph.D. program at NDSU (North Dakota State University) where I can do just that.

5. Formula One Fanatic Book: My advisor (indirectly) got me into Formula 1. Race weekends gave me something to look forward to beyond the weekly routine of class, lab, class, lab, lab report, exam, homework... F1 viewership is growing in the U.S., but the only person I talk to who watches F1 is my advisor, so I'm glad we can share our post-race reactions.

6. Music Program: I sang as a second soprano in Witt Singers for three years until scheduling conflicts with labs led me to give it up (being overscheduled/overinvolved is a common mistake among Witt students!). Music makes the soul fly. Some of my purest moments of joy were during Lessons & Carols when I felt the music in my core.

7. Research Poster (mini size): I've done three summers and one semester of research. Two summers here and one summer through an NSF-REU. At times it was grueling, but once I got a taste for research, I couldn't let it go. I won't forget the 2019 road trip to a conference anytime soon... four of us packed into a Witt van driven by our two professors. They became way less intimidating after the trip (if we still felt any intimidation at all by then), and we formed strong professional connections.

-Information compiled by Cynthia Holbrook, University Communications



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About Wittenberg

Wittenberg's curriculum has centered on the liberal arts as an education that develops the individual's capacity to think, read, and communicate with precision, understanding, and imagination. We are dedicated to active, engaged learning in the core disciplines of the arts and sciences and in pre-professional education grounded in the liberal arts. Known for the quality of our faculty and their teaching, Wittenberg has more Ohio Professors of the Year than any four-year institution in the state. The university has also been recognized nationally for excellence in community service, sustainability, and intercollegiate athletics. Located among the beautiful rolling hills and hollows of Springfield, Ohio, Wittenberg offers more than 100 majors, minors and special programs, enviable student-faculty research opportunities, a unique student success center, service and study options close to home and abroad, a stellar athletics tradition, and successful career preparation.

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