Therald Moeller Scholarship recipient pursues career as science educator

Editor's note: This profile is part of a series showcasing students in the School of Molecular Sciences.

Shannon Sipes is a senior majoring in chemistry. She is pursuing a career as a science educator and is currently earning her secondary education certificate in chemistry through a program offered by Arizona State University's Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College while simultaneously working on her bachelor’s degree in chemistry.

Arizona State University and the School of Molecular Sciences strive to provide students with a variety of opportunities for financial support. Sipes is a recipient of the Therald Moeller Scholarship, a scholarship established in the 1980's in honor of Emeritus Professor Therald Moeller to support a student in the School of Molecular Sciences with interest in a career in chemistry.

Not only that, but Sipes is also a participant in the Maricopa to ASU Pathways Program (MAPP) through GCC. MAPP helps students who attend any Maricopa Community College plan and complete coursework that can then allow them to transfer to ASU and finish their bachelor’s degree here. MAPP guarantees admission to ASU degree programs once course requirements are met and is a very cost-effective path to earning a bachelor’s degree at a university for local students.

Question: When did you first realize that you wanted to study the field you are majoring in?

Answer: I realized that I wanted to study chemistry and chemistry education when I was in my first general chemistry class. The professor that I had the pleasure of learning from, Professor George Gregg, was so incredibly amazing at sharing his love and passion for his field as well as being able to relate chemistry to everyday life and speak to its value on a medicinal/health value. Because of this, he inspired me to pursue a degree in chemistry.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose to earn my degree at ASU because of its chemistry program and its partnership with Glendale Community College as well as the fact that all of my family members are ASU Sun Devils. I followed the Maricopa to ASU Pathways Program (MAPP) during my time at GCC prior to transferring to ASU for my junior and senior year, and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone who wants to earn a bachelor’s degree at a university following their community college experience. ASU's partnership with Glendale Community College through MAPP made my transition to ASU incredibly smooth, as I had already completed almost all of my lower division classes while at GCC.

Q: What research opportunities have you had as a student here, and can you describe your research experience?

A: Through Barrett’s thesis project, I have had the opportunity to research and explore facets of chemistry and science education within the refugee population of Arizona. I worked with volunteers for the IRC (International Rescue Committee) as well as a college chemistry professor and multiple education professors to create science lesson plans tailored to English Language Learners. The experience was extremely rewarding and valuable to me and my future as a science educator.

Q: What’s something you have learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: While researching science teaching methods for English Language Learners, I was surprised by how important tangible and visual examples were when it comes to enhanced understanding of challenging and new topics. Learning this has influenced me to incorporate this method when I become a science or chemistry teacher.

Q: What are your career goals after graduation?

A: Following graduation, I hope to begin my career by focusing on science and chemistry education as a teacher in Arizona. I want to implement teaching strategies that I’ve learned and observed in my chemistry classes, my education classes, and during my research with AZ refugee students. I am incredibly excited to begin teaching chemistry and other science topics because I want to inspire others to pursue higher education within science fields because many of my chemistry professors inspired me to do the same. I feel as though a knowledge of chemistry (and all other sciences) is extremely crucial to one’s understanding of their surrounding world and is also a key component in medical fields (such as medicinal product development), which I believe to be incredibly important.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to students interested in coming to ASU to study chemistry or biochemistry?

A: My advice would be to introduce yourself to your professors and express to them your personal goals. Your professors will often push you to meet those goals and will be a significant part of your college support system.


Rachel Lee
School of Molecular Sciences