Student Spotlight: Maggie Kuzemchak

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19 March 2019

Maggie Kuzemchak, who is a senior double majoring in chemistry and earth science at Penn State, fell in love with chemistry as a high school student. While in high school, she even volunteered to help her teacher set up experiments so that she could spend more time learning about the subject.

However, Kuzemchak wasn’t sure how to put her love of chemistry to use until she arrived at Penn State. Kuzemchak fell in love with Penn State after visiting campus and decided to come to the University to study chemistry because of the many opportunities the University offered. “I knew that whatever I decided to do, I’d have the opportunity to do it here,” she notes.

Kuzemchak says that the variety offered by the Department of Chemistry was one of the unique features that drew her to Penn State. “There are so many different specialities being researched here,” Kuemchak explains, “no matter what you’re interested in, you have an opportunity to do research here.”

Kuzemchak found one such opportunity in Dr. Miriam Freedman’s lab. Kuzemchak enrolled in one of Dr. Freedman’s classes; she enjoyed the course so much that she asked Dr. Freedman if she could join her lab. Kuzemchak is currently conducting research in Dr. Freedman’s lab. Her work focuses on atmospheric chemistry. Kuzemchak is currently studying scented home products, examining the particles released by the products when they are exposed to the air. Her work has the potential to help scientists understand how these products impact human health.

Although, Kuzemchak loves chemistry, she found her true passion outside of the classroom. As a freshman, she became involved with Project Haiti at Penn State, an organization Kuzemchak is now the president of. Project Haiti raises money to support its partners in Haiti, including Maison Fortune Orphanage and Azil, an organization that serves the severely ill. Her time with Project Haiti— which included three trips to the country—instilled Kuzemchak with a passion for service to others, a passion that she has decided to combine with her love of chemistry.

Following her graduation in May, Kuzemchak will be taking her chemistry knowledge to Mozambique, where she will work as a science teacher with the Peace Corp. Kuzemchak says her time with Project Haiti inspired her to join the Peace Corp. The experience will allow her to combine her love of chemistry with her passion for service, and Kuzemchak is looking forward to using her chemistry degree in a unique way. “I wasn’t sure how I wanted to use chemistry in my life,” she explains, “I wanted to do service work, so joining the Peace Corp was the perfect combo.”

Although her work with the Peace Corp will present some challenges—such as learning Portuguese—Kuzemchak is looking forward to experiencing a new culture and learning from the people she meets. She is also looking forward to sharing her love of science with high school students in Mozambique.

In her spare time,  Kuzemchak is active in her church community, and she enjoys hiking, camping, and travel.

 

Maria Landschoot

Communications Coordinator

Department of Chemistry

Penn State University

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