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The Buzz

Senior Reflection: Madison McMonagle

Madison McMonagle Jun 3, 2024

In high school, I was always the student to be three steps ahead. This meant knowing exactly where I was going to school, planning out how I’d pay for it, and what I was majoring in, even three years before graduating. My statistics teacher in high school gladly informed me that, “not even the seniors know all that!” Though, with my mindset at the time, I knew I for sure wanted to attend Waynesburg University to pursue nursing.

As college began in fall of 2020, I remember many of the public spaces on campus being limited due to social distancing rules. I went through my intro nursing classes wondering what college was like before the pandemic and how it would ultimately change as I progressed through my years at WU. Making friends was a little difficult being that we couldn’t be involved in many activities on campus, but this quickly changed as the year progressed. I learned to make friends despite the difficult circumstances, I came to learn that nursing was not the best major for me at this time and instead changed it to biology pre-med/dental, and I started to really enjoy my classes. After taking organic chemistry, I fell in love with the material even after being told this would be my least favorite class.

McMonagle with her lab mate Schaelee Guy
McMonagle with her lab mate Schaelee Guy

I quickly got involved with research my first semester of organic chemistry where I did organic synthesis under the supervision of Dr. Takashi Suyama on a few of his research projects. I spent several hours a week on the 5th floor of the Stewart Science building outside of my class time so I could advance in my research efforts. I changed my major to pharmaceutical science (chemistry) with a minor in biology so I could alter my schedule and enjoy more chemistry courses. That following spring (junior year), I presented my research at the American Chemical Society conference in Indianapolis, Indiana!

At the ACS conference, I met with the 2022 Nobel laureate, Dr. Carolyn Bertozzi, presented my original research, and learned about several other research topics being conducted around the world. This experience truly shaped me as a chemist, student, and individual soon entering the field.

When I returned to campus, I was fueled with ambition to continue my research, and even presented at the Waynesburg University Annual Research Symposium and won best oral presentation. The opportunities I was continually presented with to grow at WU allowed me to become a better chemist and grasp a deeper understanding of what life would be like post-graduation.

After spending the summer on campus conducting more research funded by a National Science Foundation grant, I learned a lot about myself and the opportunities I was blessed with during my four years at WU. I had met the most amazing professors, friends, and mentors that I don’t believe I would have been given elsewhere. The close-knit community and small class sizes gave each student the ability to have one-on-one experiences with professors to learn deeper into topics and concepts that wouldn’t be available with a larger university. I have grown tremendously in my faith during my time here and this is one of the biggest reasons I know I chose the best university to attend.

During my senior year at WU, I presented again at the ACS conference, research symposium, and continued original research. One huge accomplishment is that we just recently published a paper on the research I have been involved in for the last two years. This is not an ordinary accomplishment for an undergraduate student but was made possible through the many hours I spent in the lab and one-on-one experiences I was able to have with my PI who showed me the ropes in the research lab.

As I spent some time reflecting, my best advice would be to apply to as many grants and scholarships as you can find. There is more funding available than you’d ever imagine, helping you get as many experiences as possible during your time in college. Join clubs, attend meetings and speakers on campus, and find opportunities for you to get involved in activities related to your major and for ministry as well. Having all these experiences has enabled me to polish my resume to prepare me best for my career after graduating. I have also learned that you don’t always need to be three steps ahead and know exactly what your life will look like next. College has shown me to live where my feet are and to continually place myself in the uncomfortable, because this is where opportunities are that truly shape you. My time at Waynesburg University was such a blessing and has taught me an incredible amount about myself and the world around me. I am looking forward to entering the field of chemistry and am excited about where God is leading me next!

Pharmaceutical Science at Waynesburg University

Learn more about the Pharmaceutical Science / Pre-Pharmacy Program at Waynesburg University at the link below.