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Chemistry Spotlight

“Transylvania delivered everything I wanted.”

Rebecca Pasco: Expanding Her Environment

Rebecca Pasco ’11 always assumed she would pursue a career in chemistry—perhaps working in a national laboratory or for a major drug company. A career in public affairs? No way, she thought.

But that’s exactly where Pasco finds herself a year after graduating with a chemistry degree from Transylvania. She is in her first year of a dual degree program in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind. And when she’s finished there, she’s considering becoming an environmental consultant.

“This is a vast field with many exciting and varied opportunities,” Pasco said. “(Environmental consulting) would allow me to mesh the bench-top science research experience I have with my social nature.”

Indeed, the path that led Pasco away from the natural sciences to the social sciences was “pretty unexpected.”

Rebecca Pasco

“At Transylvania, when I first started undergrad, there were no environmental courses offered,” she said. An environmental studies minor has since been added to the curriculum. “When applying for graduate schools, the teachers who reviewed my various graduate school essays commented that the one for SPEA sounded the most enthusiastic and genuine. I began to realize that I had done environmental studies at Transylvania, but not in an obvious way.”

While at Transylvania, for example, Pasco took a service learning course to the Philippines that focused on environmental health. She also developed an independent study course in which she collected information about environmentally forced changes at Kentucky coal-fired power plants.

“I began to realize that this is where I wanted to take my future,” she said.

Even though she majored in chemistry and minored in math at Transylvania, the liberal arts education she received prepared Pasco well for her graduate work in public and environmental affairs, especially when it comes to writing papers and “thinking in a non-science way.”

“I think Transylvania prepared me by helping me have a wide tool set,” she said. “In the program I am currently in, I use these various tools.”

In addition, “while I chose to take a path in math and sciences, I never lost touch with other departments. Honestly, I often enjoyed those one or two classes a semester that worked my mind in an entirely different way. It was refreshing,” Pasco said.

The “well-rounded college experience” she had at Transylvania affected Pasco on a personal level, as well as academically.

“For me, I was able to be a chemistry major with a math minor, an active member and officer of my sorority, be involved in academic clubs, play as a four-year starter for a conference-winning soccer team, and travel abroad three times. This may not be what everyone wants out of the undergraduate experience, but it’s what I wanted and what I was able to achieve at Transylvania,” she said.

Choosing Transylvania was not easy, Pasco admitted. She had set her sights on so-called “big-name schools.” But, in the end, “Transylvania delivered everything I wanted.”

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