It’s senior week and we are highlighting some of the members of the Class of 2021 as part of our #HumansOfLongwood series. Wherever life after Longwood takes them—a new job, graduate studies or an internship—these students reflect the goals and achievements made possible in a close-knit community that promotes student involvement, values inclusion and nurtures citizen leadership in whatever form it takes.

Keira Naff ‘21
Hometown: Roanoke

Major: Chemistry with a concentration in secondary education
Next step: Working as a chemistry teacher at Charles J. Colgan High School in Manassas

The thing I love most about Longwood is the atmosphere of campus. When walking down Brock Commons or past the famous Rotunda fountain, you always see the smiling faces of students and feel an overall sense of positivity. I think that a walk around campus is the best way to lift anyone’s spirits, even if you are not having one of the greatest days.

Longwood’s chemistry department, as well as the science education group, is small in size and thus it’s a very tight-knit community. I knew that if I ever needed help with anything, even if it wasn’t chemistry or academic related, I could always turn to one of the chemistry faculty members. I participated in the PRISM program and was able to work with Dr. Jonathan White on two separate, yet interrelated, research projects related to DNA. Participating in PRISM helped to boost my confidence in performing advanced laboratory techniques, and it increased my knowledge of the overlap that exists between chemistry and biology.

I devoted most of my extracurricular time to Longwood’s chemistry fraternity, Alpha Chi Sigma. I was the treasurer my junior year and had the privilege of serving as the president this past year. When I was first entering college I had planned on going through formal recruitment for sororities, but I was able to find my “family” and still experience aspects of Greek life through Alpha Chi Sigma, with the added bonus of meeting people with similar interests and goals as mine.

The most important lesson I have learned while a student at Longwood is that reaching a goal or achieving success is never a one-person job. Longwood gave me the opportunity to work closely with a variety of people–whether they were faculty, friends or students I tutored–and those experiences showed me the positive impact that working collaboratively can have on a project or task. I am looking forward to similar experiences when I begin teaching chemistry at Colgan High School, which will ultimately foster growth and promote the success of our science students.

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