“I originally wanted to go to medical school when I first started my career at HWS,” Evan Howard ’17 recalls. “But I came in with an open mind and fell in love with organic chemistry.”
This fall, Howard will begin a Ph.D. program in organic chemistry at the University of Vermont (UVM), whose graduate college is ranked among the best in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.
A biochemistry major and public policy minor, Howard says that “the quality and type of research that the professors at UVM are doing really piqued my interest.” During a visit to Burlington, he got a strong sense of faculty support for graduate students and of the city’s character. “The Burlington community is so friendly,” he says, “and I could really see myself thriving and being successful at UVM.”
At HWS, Howard developed a keen interest — and crucial experience — in laboratory research, both through co-curricular projects with faculty and as a teaching assistant. He notes the guidance and support of the HWS chemistry faculty as his interests evolved over the course of his undergraduate career.
“I feel very prepared for graduate school from my experience at HWS,” he explains. “I feel like I’ve gained the ability to read and digest scientific literature effectively. My experience as a teaching assistant and doing research with the Chemistry Department at HWS has given me many lab skills that will be invaluable as I do research at the graduate level.”
With aspirations to enter the pharmaceutical field as a process chemist — specializing in scaling up pharmaceuticals from “the milligram scale to the manufacturing scale,” according to the American Chemistry Society — Howard may yet arrive in the medical field, though from a different direction than he initial thought.
He hopes that in his unexpected discovery of his passion for research, his journey might be an object lesson to current and future students.
“Use every experience you will have at HWS to mold your future plans,” he says, “because you might just discover a love that you never would’ve known you’d have.”