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For Jacob Garwood, ’20, his undergraduate experience at La Salle University has been nothing short of comprehensive.
If he wasn’t delivering campus tours to prospective La Salle University students, perhaps he was conducting chemical research in Holroyd Hall. Or writing stories and designing pages in the Student Union for the next edition of the campus newspaper. Or leading the University’s chemistry club.
A graduating student in the Class of 2020, Garwood earned a degree in chemistry and minors in mathematics and leadership and global understanding. The 22-year-old from McKeesport, Pa., will begin his pursuit of a chemistry Ph.D. next fall at The Ohio State University—one of five institutions to award Garwood a full scholarship to their chemistry doctoral programs.
Garwood is one of five graduating students from La Salle’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry who will enter a doctoral program next year.
“I chose La Salle for the feel of the community and on the belief that individual attention and small class sizes would have a positive impact on my academic development,” Garwood said. “It’s also reaffirming, to know that I made the right choice, when you see La Salle’s chemistry department this year producing as many Ph.D. chemists as universities with departments many times larger than ours.”
Garwood desires a career in academia as a professor. For the last two years, he has conducted research under the guidance and leadership of faculty members from his program’s department. His research has “tied together the environment and his passion for discovering the molecular mysteries hidden within,” said William Price, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.
One such project, as designed by Garwood, combined his interests in beekeeping—rooted to his family’s farm in Western Pennsylvania—and the isolation and characterization of the natural chemicals from beehives. According to Price, literature reviews suggest some of these compounds may have potential as anti-tumor agents.
“My professors at La Salle have made such a profound impact on my growth and development,” Garwood said. “I am the scientist that I am today because of the mentorship and guidance that they’ve given me. I want to help future generations of students develop a passion for research and scientific inquiry as my professors have done for me.”
Professors are but one facet of the department’s success, Garwood said.
“(While) larger universities may have more resources, or more expensive scientific instruments, undergraduates (at those universities) never have access to those,” Garwood said. “But as a chemistry student at La Salle, by junior year we are all trained on the instruments and have access to the labs for our undergraduate research.”
A student in the University Honors Program, Garwood has maintained active involvement in organizations and activities across La Salle’s campus. He also has devoted many hours volunteering with programs off campus who missions seek to bridge equity gaps in the education system. One such program united Garwood with students in the School District of Philadelphia to promote college access.
“La Salle has equipped me with all of the skills that I could need to succeed in the field of chemistry,” Garwood said, “so having the chance to go into a graduate program now and show the positive outcomes of a Lasallian education is incredibly fulfilling, and it makes me very proud to have called La Salle home for the past four years.”
—Christopher A. Vito