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“Take advantage of opportunities. There are truly opportunities for new experiences everywhere; you just must be willing to let go of all the worries that stop you from seeing them.”
May 2018 graduate Anika Zamurd was surprised by the outstanding opportunities available to her during her years at Harford Community College. She traveled with student organizations, served as a research intern, and worked as a learning assistant. Anika said she got so much more out of her time at Harford than she ever thought possible.
Anika found her classes to be challenging and faculty to be influential. “The courses that I took at Harford were anything but ‘easy’ as everyone had told me they would be. These courses, specifically organic chemistry and calc-based physics, pushed me to reach a wall in my learning career, something that I had not known about before. I had not really known what it meant to truly struggle with a course till I took these courses, but in the end, they taught me to be a better student.” She learned to break through that wall and not only pass, but surpass, her own expectations. Anika is grateful to her instructors, especially Assistant Professor Steven Iwanowski, who refused to let her give up on herself; term faculty Gene Cooper, who pushed her to reach her full potential by never letting her underestimate her capabilities; Professor Chris Jones, who taught her that life is about taking risks because it never hurts to try; and Associate Professor Supawan King, who taught her that a bond between a student and professor can extend into a lifelong friendship, and that leadership is less about all the things you can accomplish but instead about all the things that you can help your team to accomplish with your assistance.
An active and involved student, she participated in extracurricular activities and student organizations including the HCC Chapter of the American Chemical Society, Math Club, and the Multicultural Student Association. In addition, she was a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and served as president of Mu Alpha Theta Math Honor Society. Her affiliation with student organizations afforded her the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. for experiences ranging from cultural enrichment to attending national conferences. In addition, she and other HCC students participated in the alternative spring break trip to New Orleans this past March. “While down there we were able to help others who are still suffering from the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe and other floods that have occurred more recently.” Anika said, “I truly enjoyed that experience; the volunteer work was amazing, the individuals I worked with were amazing, and my advisors, Caitlin White and Jo Chase, were super amazing. I had never been able to make an impact like that on others and had never been able to go on a trip like that before.”
Through her involvement with the HCC Chapter of the American Chemical Society, Anika learned about the opportunity to be a research intern. Dr. Stephen Seidel, HCC Associate Professor of Chemistry, was her advisor. “The experience was truly amazing, and I learned a lot about myself and my future endeavors through this internship. I believe it was the ability to finally be able to work on my own, essentially in my own setting, that ignited a spark for this kind of work in the future.” She added, “I would greatly advise all students, whether they are STEM or not, to pursue an internship opportunity because it really gives you a sense of who you are and what you are capable of.”
In addition to her studies and other activities, Anika worked in HCC’s Learning Center for two semesters as a peer learning assistant and a master learning assistant. She helped students better understand their coursework by providing them with different learning strategies.
Anika was on the prestigious President’s List all four semesters she attended HCC. She received the HCC Presidential Grant as well as a number of transfer scholarships through the Harford County Community Foundation including the Academic Legacy Women’s Science, Engineering and Math Scholarship; Senior Science Society Transfer Scholarship; and the Leidos Transfer Scholarship. She also received scholarships from other organizations including Scholarship America’s Associates’ Sons and Daughters Scholarship, Central Scholarship, a Senatorial Scholarship from Senator Robert Cassilly and a Delegate Scholarship from Delegate Mary Ann Lisanti. The scholarships allow her to attend college without the worry of accumulating massive student debt.
Anika graduated from Harford in May 2018 with a dual major: Associate of Sciences in Chemistry, Non-Calculus Based Physics and Biology. (As someone who changed her major three times, she believes that Harford is an especially good choice for those who are unsure of what career they plan to pursue.) She will be attending the University of Maryland, College Park in the fall where she will be studying biochemistry/chemistry. In the future, she hopes to pursue a graduate program in Pharmaceutical Sciences and eventually work in her own research lab modifying and synthesizing medications for diseases that affect the elderly, such as Alzheimer’s.
This summer, Anika obtained an internship as a student researcher where she will learn from and work with professionals at the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (Edgewood area of Aberdeen Proving Ground). She is also working at her neighborhood CVS as a pharmacy technician.
She offers this advice to other students: “Take advantage of opportunities. There are truly opportunities for new experiences everywhere; you just must be willing to let go of all the worries that stop you from seeing them. Like me, I want everyone to challenge themselves to try new things that you were 100% stressed out about – because I promise you, it’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t go your way. You will also find the most supportive people during this time who will refuse to let you fail even when you have given up. Also, do not be afraid of building a close relationship with the adults in your life. They are way more experienced in life then you are – it’s a proven fact – so try and get as much advice as you can out of them. They will be the ones who will give the most objective advice that will do nothing but help you succeed. Ask them a lot of questions.”
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