Let us know what you have been doing since graduation.
Learn about what a few of our alums have accomplished and where they have gone since St. Cloud State.
This statement is for all of the students that don’t know what they want to do with their degree after they graduate. I went to Anoka Ramsey Community College to complete my generals and then transferred to Saint Cloud State University where I set out to originally earn a Bachelor’s degree in Biology, but I switched to Chemistry after the first year since I had an easier time understanding the courses. I graduated in 2018 and wasn’t sure of what I wanted to do next, so I took a bit of time off from academia to experience the work field. I’ve worked for Avtec Finishing Systems as their chemist to maintain their chemical baths, and I’m currently working for Beckman Coulter as a medical technician that tests their prototype immunoassay instruments. Now that I’ve sampled the field a bit and taken some time to think things over, I’ve decided that I want to get into the pharmacy business. I studied hard for the PCAT and went back to school to complete three prerequisite courses for the program, and I’m happy to say it paid off. I recently got accepted to the pharmacy program at the University of Minnesota! I hear that the age range of my classmates will vary quite a bit, so it’s not uncommon for people to take their time deciding where they belong. I just want everyone to know that you don’t need to feel rushed to immediately decide what you want to do with your career after you graduate, and that it is okay to take some time to think it over and get some new experiences under your belt while you sample your options. There will still be opportunities to attend graduate level schools in the future if you don’t attend right after graduating from an undergraduate program.
I graduated in May of 2014 with my B.S. in Biochemistry and a minor in Biology. While earning my undergrad degree at SCSU, I worked for the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry as a Laboratory Preparatory Student and Teaching Assistant and served as Vice President of the Chemistry Club. The knowledge and experience that I gained in these roles prepared me for my career and life outside of college.
After graduation, I began my career working for Beckman Coulter (Chaska, MN) as a Senior Technician in Reagent Manufacturing. Beckman Coulter is an operating company within the Danaher parent company: Danaher is a fortune 500 global science and technology innovation company comprised of 20+ operating companies. During the 5 years I worked at Beckman Coulter, I held various positions within multiple departments and developed a passion for continuous improvement/lean manufacturing. My last position was working as a Danaher Business System Leader for the instrument manufacturing department.
In Jan. '21 I transitioned to another operating company within Danaher called ChemTreat, working remotely as a global Danaher Business Systems Leader. ChemTreat is a global expert in industrial water treatment and process optimization, providing customized solutions to maximize efficiency and savings. As a Danaher Business Systems Leader, I coach and mentor ChemTreat associates and leaders on how to problem solve and apply the Danaher Business System to drive process efficiencies and increase revenue.
The Staff in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry are truly one-of-a-kind! Their passion for teaching drove my passion for learning.
I graduated in May of 2015 with my B.S. in Chemistry (ACS) and minors in German and music. While with the department, I sat as president of the Chemistry Club for several years and was the COSE student senate representative for the college student government. I completed research with Dr. Sarah Petitto in chemistry education and with Dr. Michael Jeannot in analytical chemistry, as I was unsure of my career goals after graduating. Once graduated, I decided I needed a break from academia and teaching, so I pursued a job in industry. I started working as the lead chemical lab technician at LeafLine Labs, and really enjoyed the shift to the public sector. However, I decided I wanted to go back to school to expand my career options in the future, so after one year at LeafLine I submitted applications to go back for my PhD fall of 2016.
I am now pursuing a PhD in Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, working in the physics department with Dr. Alex Zettl. My research focuses on the synthesis and structural characterization of materials confined within nanostructures, such as carbon or boron nitride nanotubes, and studying how confinement can alter the physical and electronic properties of the material (PhysRevB.100.041403). My research background has evolved dramatically from undergrad with most of my research emphasis on electron microscopy and other solid-state characterization techniques, such as Energy Dispersive-, Raman-, and IR-spectroscopy.
During my undergraduate career, I wish I had known how relatively easy it is to explore other facets of chemistry and science in a career, even if you don’t have all the formal training required. Many companies or research groups are really looking for people with good work ethic and that are passionate about learning, rather than someone who is 100% trained in the exact role they’re looking to fill (which rarely happens). Involve yourself with any and all opportunities that arise and learn about as many techniques and equipment to help give you an edge on an application, which will also give you a glimpse into that aspect of chemistry and whether it’s something you would enjoy pursuing further. Find a mentor that can help you carve your path and provide insight and feedback as you progress through your degree (Thank You Dr. P!).
I completed my Bachelor of Science degree from St. Cloud State in 2018. I double majored in biochemistry and biomedical science. Coming into college, I aspired to go to pharmacy school after undergrad. The courses in the biomedical science degree path aligned well with the prerequisites, but the biochemistry degree path provided me with research experience and a more in-depth foundation of chemistry that proved to be very useful once I started pharmacy school. I began professional school shortly after graduation at the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy. I will graduate in 2022 with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree.
I currently work as a Pharmacy Intern at the Masonic Cancer Clinic. I work in a clean room within sterile hoods to compound intravenous infusions for patients at the clinic. I also monitor patients that take oral chemotherapy by checking in on their adherence, analyzing their lab results, checking for drug interactions, and collaborating with their oncologist to ensure they’re receiving optimal drug therapy with minimal side effects. I will have this internship throughout the entirety of pharmacy school and am able to work full time in the summer and in my free time throughout the school year. I am grateful for the lab skills I obtained through lab courses and research because I use them daily at my job.
While at St. Cloud State, I embraced every opportunity to be involved that I could. I conducted research with Dr. Ramakrishnan that provided the opportunity to present at the SCSU Research Colloquium, a national conference and it was the topic of my senior thesis. In addition, I took on leadership roles within Chemistry Club and Student Health Action and Advisory Committee. I also started a campus organization with my peers called Women Who STEM to promote community and support for women pursuing a degree in science, technology, engineering and math. I also enjoyed participating in Medical Professions Association, University Ambassadors, Huskies Volunteer for Science and several intramural sports.
One thing I know now that I wish I would’ve known as a freshman would’ve been the impact that extra-curricular experiences can have on your future job or graduate school applications and interviews. Every applicant has a degree, but what sets you apart from other people are the additional experiences that you devoted your time to throughout school. Not only does it give you something to talk about in your interview, but it may also give you a better understanding as to what kind of job you’d like after graduation. Don’t do things because you want it to be on your resume, do it because you want to make a difference or gain new experience. That initiative you show says a lot about who you are as a person and future employee. Make the most out of your time as a student and devote your time to causes you’re passionate about. These experiences don’t need to necessarily be campus related organizations, branch out and explore relevant jobs to your major, summer internships or research opportunities.
I graduated in 2019 with a B.S. in ACS Biochemistry and a minor in Biology after four years at SCSU. While an undergraduate degree isn't necessary for some Doctor of Pharmacy programs, the firm foundation in chemistry and biology is immensely helpful in my graduate-level courses at North Dakota State University in Fargo. I wish I'd known sooner that, as a Minnesota resident, tuition reciprocity with North Dakota must be applied for as an undergraduate since students accepted to the professional program are disqualified. I was glad I looked into the school-specific pharmacy prerequisite classes and shaped my undergraduate coursework to fit them. After four more years of study, I will earn my Pharm.D., pass the NAPLEX, and work as a long-term care pharmacist. If you have any questions about pharmacy school or the profession itself, feel free to email me.
I started in the Biomedical Sciences degree program with the Biology department, and after considering a few other options, like graduating early, decided that the extra experience of taking on a second major would be really helpful for my own self and for my career. I added the Biochemistry degree to my Biomedical Sciences degree, because the two had great overlap. I was very fortunate to be able to have great support through both departments, which allowed me to be able to be a chemistry tutor and do research in chemistry, plus be able to TA and study abroad (in Croatia!) through the biology department. Because of the broad base of material covered by both degree programs, I felt very equipped to take on the MCAT during the summer after my junior year and was very fortunate to be able to enter medical school in August 2018 right after graduation. I am now in my 2nd year at the University of Minnesota Medical School!
Some thoughts that I would offer to those who are thinking about pursuing a professional degree program after undergrad are: 1) Be diligent in your science coursework, but also allow yourself to explore other areas of study, like philosophy or language art or music. So much of being a medical professional (whether a doctor, pharmacist, vet, researcher) is tethered around your humanity. The science and learning will happen, but being able to appreciate and work alongside others' cultures and backgrounds cannot be read in a textbook. I was fortunate to be able to minor in psychology and ethics during my time in SCSU as well, and those classes have really helped me think more critically about my environment than a biochemistry or genetics class ever could. 2) Know that it is perfectly okay to take time for yourself and carve your path as it best suits you and your needs. There can sometimes be this seemingly immense pressure to follow what the people around you are doing, but all of our paths are bound to be different. SO many in my medical school class are many years out of school, some with children and families, others who were teachers and lawyers before getting started... The process of professional school can seem extremely daunting, but keeping confidence in yourself and your abilities is so important. Science does not have to come at the expense of your wellbeing! And finally, 3) Being able to find a mentor who can be lovingly honest in their advice is key. If you are a first-generation college student like me, the process of figuring out what to do, how to do it, and when to do it can be overwhelming - and even more so if you have to do it alone. Taking the time to introduce yourself to your professors, visiting them during office hours, and directly speaking with them about questions/concerns can help develop that relationship.
Finally, my passion outside of science and medicine is helping ensure that other students, especially those who identify as first-generation, women, or students of color, succeed both in undergrad and in medical school! If you ever have any questions or need someone to talk to, please always feel free to send an email!
I earned my Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry at St. Cloud State University in 2018. During my time at St. Cloud State, I did research in synthetic organic chemistry under the direction of Dr. Mark Mechelke and was on the executive board for a Chemistry Club, Women Who STEM and the Student Health Advisory Committee. After graduating, I went on to graduate school at the University of Minnesota in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry. I am currently a second year graduate student in Dr. Carston R. Wagner's lab where I investigate self-assembling nucleotide phosphoramidate nanofibers for their applications drug and cell delivery. My research involves elements of drug design, synthetic chemistry, biological assays, and materials characterization. Graduate school thus far has been a balance of classes, TAing, and research! I wish I would've known the abundance of chemistry-related graduate studies I could pursue and how important undergraduate research is to graduate schools! Aside from traditional chemistry graduate programs, there are programs in medicinal chemistry, pharmacology, pharmaceutics, chemical engineering, biomedical engineering etc. that we're qualified to pursue with a chemistry degree. I would advise students interested in graduate school to explore a variety of programs and get involved in undergraduate research. Presenting your research at a conference would be very helpful too! Graduate schools weigh these experiences heavily when accepting students and it's a great foundation for graduate research. I would also advise students to get involved with clubs and departmental activities. The leadership experiences and the connections you make through these opportunities are invaluable. It's important to be a well-rounded scientist. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions!
At SCSU I got my BS in Chemistry education: Grades 7-12. I really liked my physical chemistry courses, so I decided to pursue a graduate degree in physical chemistry instead of getting a teaching job. I got my PhD at the University of Maryland, where I worked under John Fourkas doing a surface-sensitive nonlinear spectroscopy called vibrational sum-frequency generation spectroscopy of liquid-solid interfaces. I finished in 2019 and accepted a post-doctoral researcher position through the University of Maryland, but based at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, MD. Here I collaborate primarily with the Functional Polymers group using fluorescence and Raman microscopy and laser-induced projectile impact testing to characterize polymers. What I wish I knew then: I wish I had taken more math than was required for my degree. Also, I don't know if this would have deterred me, but I wish I had realized how long graduate school could take. The average for my research group was around 6 years.
Update on Erica: She recently became a working Pace supervisor (one of the youngest supervisors in the group). Erica graduated in the Fall of 2015 with an ACS approved B.S. in Biochemistry. Recently Erica wrote “Before I even graduated I nailed a job working at 3M Innovation Center in Maplewood through Pace Analytical Inc. At 3M I work in the Drug Delivery Systems Division (DDSD) which is responsible for metered dosed inhalers. My work comprises of testing a variety of components that make up an inhaler using GC-FID, HPLC, UPLC, GC-MS, and several other instrumentation. I am astonished with how much my past involvement with the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department has prepared me for landing a job so soon after college. Whether it would be from working as a Laboratory Preparatory Student for general and biochemistry classes, tutoring chemistry students, working on research with Dr. Dvorak, or just forming relationships with professors, every aspect of my college career helped me form who I am and what I am able to accomplish. I cannot say this enough to any college student; DO get involved, TAKE chances, and MAKE lasting relationships with professors and students. I am extremely grateful for every professor that saw the potential I had to do great in whatever I put my mind to and for giving me an arsenal of tools that will be forever used!”