Neden Yacine is a Science Scholar who graduated May 2017 from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a minor in biology. After taking a gap year, she plans to attend medical school.
Tell us a little about yourself
I’m from Fort Smith, Arkansas, and took college classes while I was still in high school. That’s why I was able to graduate in three years. I love to travel and have been to countries such as Canada, Belize, Morocco, Algeria, and Italy. I lived on campus the first year, but now I live off campus because I have a Havanese (Bichon breed type) dog.
Why did you choose UA Little Rock?
Well, I was pretty set on going to (University of Arkansas Fort Smith) because it’s my hometown. I applied for several scholarships and got into the Chancellor’s Leadership Corps (CLC) at UA Little Rock. It’s a great program, and I got a full ride with no college debt.
What surprised you about our campus?
The dorms are the best. You get your own bedroom and share a full bathroom with a couple of other people. I wish there were more things to do at the student center (i.e. Xboxes, game rooms) so people would want to stick around campus.
How do you like living in Little Rock?
It’s great to be in a metropolitan environment. The sunsets here are amazing. Emerald Park, Pinnacle Mountain, and the Big Dam Bridge have beautiful views. I’d go to one of these places after a stressful test. And it’s exciting to drive by the Capitol at night. Plus, I’ve made some amazing friends here.
Why did you major in chemistry?
I originally majored in biology, but to me it just required a lot of memorization. I switched to chemistry because it came naturally to me. If you understand the concepts, you can apply them to solve problems.
How would professors describe you?
Talkative and motivated. I’m not afraid to speak up in class, and like to be silly to break the stress. I’m the class clown.
Did you have any mentors?
Dr. Wei Zhao (Department of Chemistry) asked me to work on a research grant from the NASA John H. Glenn Research Center. I got to spend five days in Cleveland, see Oberlin College, and get paid for it. (I even brought my longboard with me.) This is where I became interested in analytical-based research.
What were your favorite subjects?
Besides chemistry, I took an elective called Psychosexual Behavior, which explored different sexual disorders. For instance, I learned that I-40 is a major human trafficking route. That really stuck with me and sparked my interest in PATH (Partners Against Trafficking Humans) shelters.
Are you going to graduate school?
I plan on going to medical school, but during college I became interested in lab work and would like to explore research jobs that involve analytical chemistry. The doctors I shadowed encouraged me to slow down and take a gap year prior to going to school. They said I have plenty of time.
What are you going to specialize in?
Either family practice or geriatrics. I’ve volunteered at hospices and retirement homes and would love to volunteer at the Veteran’s Administration in North Little Rock. You can see the whole city from their view.
What were some of your extracurricular activities?
As a member of the Maroon Mob (Little Rock’s organization dedicated to promoting school pride), I got to help plan homecoming festivities such as the golf cart parade. I’m the recruitment chair for Chi Omega sorority. Sororities typically get a bad rap, but Greek life is different here. It was great to make new friends with the same interests – we all love to eat!
Promoting Greek life is a great recruiting tool for the school. Plus, it provides networking opportunities after graduation. For instance, you can send your resume to all Chi Omegas to find out about employment opportunities.
How has college contributed to your career goals?
I had to learn how to juggle my social life, be active in organizations, and get good grades. That’s hard. After college, I’ll be able to focus on one thing. How bad can that be?
Any advice for new college students?
Get your homework done so you can go out with your friends. Don’t procrastinate. Explore your options, and follow your own path. And do some volunteer work. I volunteered at the animal shelter, and being around puppies and kittens was a great way to reduce stress.
— Compiled by Toni Boyer Stewart, UA Little Rock Communications