Hometown: Danbury, Conn.
WCSU Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry
Activities: Full-time job at IBM, member of the Chemistry Club
Honors and Awards: Carl F. Norden Science Scholarship
Lloyd Smith says it has been a long road to a college degree. "I started at Rochester Institute of Technology in the late 1990s, but lacked academic focus," he says. "After three years there, I left university to enter the working world for almost a decade before coming to Western to finish up a degree."
As a student returning to academics, Smith says he took several years working to understand himself and found that "chemistry is a great fit for my meticulous nature. Future employment opportunities are always strong in the sciences and the analytical mind-set always helps, even if your career moves in a different direction."
The reasons Smith decided to return to academia at Western were three-fold: "It was the perfect mix of price, location and convenience. The university is located near both work and home, so it was compatible with a full-time career."
The process was simplified because many of Smith's previous college credits were able to be transferred to Western, leaving him to concentrate on the major sequence classes that he was missing. He was able to obtain his bachelor's degree in three years.
Smith says the opportunity to work one-on-one with a professor was a valuable part of his WCSU experience. "In our major, we work directly with one of our faculty in a research environment," he says. "My mentor, Dr. Paula Secondo, greatly assisted me throughout the entire experimental process." He says he also valued his participation in the university's Chemistry Club, which "provided a great place to work with fellow science students toward our educational goals and to de-stress together."
Asked what he will remember most about his Western experience, Smith says, "At 3 a.m., eight hours before a test, the entire class commandeered a study area. Everyone's brain was slightly off-kilter, the pizza was cold, the soda was flat, but knowledge was seeping in somehow. The quintessential college experience."
After graduation, Smith says he will "go back to work full time, and possibly get some sleep."
Smith's advice to new students entering WCSU is: "Study as if you want to remember the subject in 10 years, not just for the next test. Finish what you start; college will never get easier, and life will only make things harder. As you get older, everyday demands will sap both your strength and mental acuity. At the same time, the value of a degree will only have an increasing effect on your life."