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New American University Scholar seeks to make an impact as a future STEM teacher

Charlie Amador

Charlie Amador, School of Molecular Sciences junior chemistry major.

January 29, 2019

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

Charlie Amador is a junior chemistry major at the School of Molecular Sciences at Arizona State University and a recipient of the New American University Scholarship. ASU awards this scholarship to outstanding, incoming undergraduate students as they pursue academic excellence at ASU.

Initially, Amador thought about majoring in history but discovered how much he liked chemistry and math, so he changed his focus to chemistry so he could utilize both. Amador has a passion for learning and an even greater one to teach. His long-term goal is to teach in underserved communities where the need for STEM is the greatest, and where he can make the most impact.

“Many children believe that the sciences are beyond their reach, with success being reserved for a select few. Instead, I want to create a classroom culture that values growth, perseverance and resilience over perfection, where students view failure and questions as both natural and critical requirements of the learning process,” said Amador. “I believe that fostering this mindset will enable students to discover and embrace their capacity to achieve in any area of school and life, with their desire being the only obstacle.”

During his sophomore year Amador became a peer mentor under Ian Gould, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and Orenda Griffin, assistant director of academic services in the School of Molecular Sciences. 

“Charles Amador was a peer mentor for the 2017 cohort of the early start program here in the School of Molecular Sciences. Although Charles was only a sophomore himself, he demonstrated excellent mentorship qualities,” said Griffin. “He successfully tutored freshmen in math and chemistry all while keeping up with his own studies and maintained a 4.0 GPA. Charles began to display leadership skills during the mentorship program and has now added a cross-section leadership certificate to his chemistry degree.”

Amador answered some questions about his experience at ASU, being a student at the School of Molecular Sciences and his future goals.

Question: What are your academic and career plans?

Answer: After graduating with my BS in chemistry in 2020, my plan is to pursue a Master of Secondary Education at ASU with the aspiration of teaching math and science in Arizona high schools. As an educator, I aim to instill hope and confidence in students through fostering a healthy attitude towards learning. As for long-term career goals, I would like to promote this outlook on a school-wide level through administration and investigate child development and learning through graduate research at ASU.

Q: What has earning a scholarship meant to you, and how has it helped you to succeed?

A: My current renewing scholarship is the New American University – Dean’s Award. This scholarship has been an invaluable element towards my success at ASU, especially as a science major, for I am able to immerse myself in my studies without additional demands of maintaining a job to finance my education. 

Q: Why is it important that the school provide scholarships or awards for its majors?

A: No student should be hindered by external financial circumstances. I believe the full collegiate experience can only be enjoyed and academic success maximized when one is strictly a full-time student. Any effort a school can put forth to financially support students during their time of study is a benefit to them, as students will be better able to devote their time to their coursework. I have witnessed the emotional and mental strain of balancing school and work, and this unique, ideal time of study will better prepare us for our future academic and work careers. We have the rest of our lives to work. 

Q: What activities have you been involved?

A: I have had the opportunity to serve as a peer mentor under Orenda Griffin and Ian Gould. Through tutoring freshmen chemistry and biochemistry majors, I cherished the opportunity to impart effective study habits and attitudes to students. I hope to serve in other tutoring or mentoring roles before I graduate.

Q: Could you share what your experience was like while attending ASU?

A: Studying at ASU has been one of the most powerful and transformative blessings I have experienced. My professors have been accessible, encouraging sources of support throughout my coursework. They have constantly reminded me that I am supposed to make mistakes and encounter difficulty when learning new material, and hence asking questions and seeking their guidance are critical to my success. Their availability, patience and guidance have empowered me as a student and future educator. 

Q: What would you tell someone who is thinking about coming to ASU to study chemistry?

A: ASU is unique in that the professors are accessible — supportive and helpful. Instructors like Dr. Gould set up the classes to help you be successful. Also, there are numerous research opportunities for students at ASU. 

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