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Carrie Watson ’20 recently graduated with a degree in chemistry and forensic science. Originally hailing from Wisconsin, Carrie’s journey to Olivet College started after she moved to Eaton Rapids with her son. Looking for a small college experience that would help Carrie reach her goals with an individualized education, OC was the perfect fit.

Hear more about Carrie’s role as a mom, chemistry lover and Olivet College alumna:

I was drawn to OC first and foremost because of the size of the school. I wanted that personal and close environment that being at a small school can offer. What sealed my decision to come to OC was my meeting with Dr. Susanne Lewis, associate professor of chemistry and chair of the Natural and Physical Sciences Department. She was kind, patient, and really showed how much she cared about my happiness and future success. With all the time and effort she put in, well before I even started at OC, I knew I had chosen the right place.

Early in my OC career, I joined the Gruen Chemistry Society. The club offered chemistry-specific events and experiences, as well as an opportunity to bond with other science majors. Being part of Gruen gave me the chance to get to know my classmates better, form friendships, gain study partners and offered the helpful shoulder we all need sometimes. I was also a part of Sigma Zeta. Sigma Zeta was part of the Math and Science Night at OC. It was a great experience to share science with others. I served as Treasurer of Sigma Zeta for quite some time.

The biggest and most impactful experience I had at OC was being a part of the cold case team in the Cold Case Course. We worked directly with detectives on cold cases. It was an amazing hands-on experience, and it really helped to increase my knowledge of the justice system. I also took an ILT course that was a really unique experience. It was Food Chemistry, and we spent time learning the chemistry of why food acts the way it does during preparation and cooking. We also had the chance to cook and taste various types of foods, including many foods I had never tried or prepared. I made one of my closest friends during that ILT, making it something I will always cherish.

In addition to my classroom experiences, Dr. Lewis was able to offer me the opportunity to do my service learning with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD). This was an amazing opportunity to see a chemistry and biology lab in action out in the real world. I was also able to network with numerous individuals at the location. After my service learning with them, I really came to love the idea of working within MDARD. While that is my first choice, I will also be applying to available forensics (laboratory) positions with the Michigan State Police. Since graduating, I have been enjoying webinars through the American Chemical Society, trying to learn new things and reinforce what I already know.

Also while at OC, the professors that I encountered were everything to me and my success. Dr. Lewis pushed me as hard as she could, which I now understand was for my benefit. I came to quickly realize that her students mean so much to her. She always had time for me, whether it was just to vent or to sit down and help me understand something. I lack the words to describe just how thankful and fortunate I am to have her as a professor and adviser. Dr. John Wilterding, professor of biology and chemistry, was another important professor throughout my time at OC. It was an absolute honor to be one of his students. He always presented his material in a way that forced us as students to develop a deeper understanding of what he taught. He was compassionate and was always willing to make time for any questions I may have had. I was also incredibly lucky to have Professor Mike Sherzer, retired assistant professor of criminal justice, for numerous classes. I learned a lot working closely with him in the Cold Case Course. He always had a joke to share and a moment to talk.

Prior to graduating, I received the Outstanding Senior in Science Award, which was really heartwarming. It made sense of all of my stress, tears and hard work getting through challenging courses. It also reinforced my belief that the professors of OC really care about each and every student they have. I was having a difficult time with my emotions after graduating, trying to come to terms with what it meant to finally be a college graduate. This honor helped me push through that fog with the realization that even among my failures and limitations, I can persevere and succeed.

I learned a lot about myself from OC. I learned that it’s okay  to fail, so long as you try again. I learned that if something doesn’t immediately make sense, I need to step back, slow down and look at the problem differently. I learned about cultures and races that I had never learned about before. I also learned that there isn’t always only one solution to every problem.

Learn more about Olivet College by contacting the Office of Admissions at 800-456-7189 or admissions@olivetcollege.edu.

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