Huntington University is a Christian liberal arts college in Indiana

Experience is the best teacher:

Hands-on work prepares alumna for graduate school
Abby Gaier describes benefits of studying chemistry at Huntington University, a Christian college

“Tutoring and lab assisting at HU prepared me for the future, whether that would be as a chemistry teacher or as a graduate student.”

Abby Gaier started her career in chemistry education at Huntington University and has continued her studies at Purdue University’s graduate school. She sought to finish her coursework at Purdue so that she could begin full-time research, aspiring to a career in higher education.

“When I first arrived at Purdue, I wasn’t sure how I would compare with the other chemistry students,” said Abby, a 2007 Huntington graduate. “However, I soon realized that I was more than prepared to be at Purdue. HU helped me by giving me several practical experiences.”

Abby’s best preparation came from hands-on learning. She says, “Tutoring and lab assisting at HU prepared me for the future, whether that would be as a chemistry teacher or as a graduate student.” During her time at Purdue, Abby was also a teaching assistant for two organic chemistry labs, grading papers, answering questions and helping students complete labs.

“Before starting my first semester of graduate school, I spent the summer researching with one of the professors at Purdue,” Abby said. “It exposed me to some newer topics in chemistry and gave me the chance to become familiar with the campus.”

Huntington’s small size gave Abby the opportunity to develop relationships with her professors as well as fellow students. It also helped her academically. “I spent a significant amount of time working one-on-one with my professors,” said Abby. “This gave me the opportunity to learn so much more. Having smaller classes, especially my chemistry classes, forced me to be more responsible for my own learning than I would have to be in larger classes.”

During a January Term course, Abby had the chance to travel with Dr. Bill Bordeaux, one of her chemistry professors. Her group was put in charge of cabin leaders for sixth-grade students. During their trip, they taught science concepts to the students.

“I had a great time and was able to develop some teaching skills that I would use later in my student teaching and even now as a teaching assistant at Purdue,” Abby said previously.

Abby is grateful for the extracurricular activities she participated in at Huntington. “Being a chemistry major is tough work, but being part of the choirs and ensembles in the Department of Music provided me with a way to relax.” Despite her course load, Abby found time to be a member of pep band, wind ensemble, handbell choir and concert choir during her four years at Huntington.

Huntington also gave Abby the opportunity to develop her faith. She says, “HU was a great place to grow and learn more about my faith. I could attend chapel, floor Bible studies and listen to others talk about their own faith.” In addition, faith was a part of the classroom. “One of my favorite parts of being at HU was having the ability to talk about my faith in the classroom. My professors would talk with us about how to be a Christian and a scientist. I have come to see that it is almost impossible to see the things that I see everyday in the lab and not believe in the Creator God.”
Abby advises any students who are interested in chemistry education to consider Huntington, saying, “The chemistry professors, as well as the rest of the Division of Natural and Mathematical Sciences, are truly great people and will amply prepare any student for a career in the sciences.”

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