It’s senior week, and we are highlighting some of the members of the Class of 2023 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.

Tinsae Alem ’23
HOMETOWN: Woodbridge, Virginia

MAJOR: Chemistry with biology minor
WHAT'S NEXT: Pursing a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering at the University of Virginia

Reflecting on the last four years, Longwood’s size is one of the things I like the most. We are a small campus. With smaller classes, it is less intimidating to ask questions and professors really get to know their students. I’ve had the chance to build one-on-one relationships with faculty, especially my research advisor, Dr. Benjamin Topham, and chemistry professor, Dr. Sarah Porter. They always have been there for me when I needed advice and encouragement. In times of self-doubt, they remind me that I’ve got this and I will do well.

I also have been afforded the opportunity to participate in extensive research at the undergraduate level–not something you find at larger universities. I participated in computational chemistry independent research with Dr. Topham from the second semester of my freshman year through the end of my sophomore year. I grew to like research and my curiosity grew as well, so I decided to continue researching through the senior thesis program. I did my senior thesis project as a rising senior. My project focused on molecular electronics and developing a better understanding of what affects the rectification ratio and current flow in a single molecule diode using computational chemistry. Participating in this research helped me understand my research style in chemistry. It helped me improve my organization, time management and self-confidence. I had a chance to participate in national conferences where I presented my research, learned from my peers and made some valuable connections as well.

One of the best memories I made at Longwood was participating in the Brock Experiences in Alaska. It was a great experience. Alaska is one of the most scenic and pleasant states in the United States. It has so many national parks and is rich in culture. The people of Alaska were very welcoming and happy to share their living experiences with us. I learned about the important natural resources issues that have been part of the social and cultural debate for a while in Alaska including oil, hunting and tourism.

It has been an amazing and satisfying experience to watch my academic and personal growth throughout college. I have made lifelong friends and valuable connections at Longwood and will use those to be successful in the future. I begin my Ph.D. journey at UVA this fall and my plan is to eventually work in the semiconductor industry. My time here has taught me how to overcome roadblocks in life, whether academic or personal, and for that I will be eternally grateful.

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