Chemistry Student Ambassador
Thomas is pursuing a BS in Chemistry with an emphasis in Biochemistry and double minoring in Psychology and Music. He is a member of the American Chemical Society, Alpha Psi Omega Theatre Honor Society, and French Club. He is a peer reviewer for the Venture Undergraduate Journal. He also plays violin in the University Orchestra.
Why did you choose to attend UM?
I’d lived in Oxford for 5 years before going to college. When initially applying for colleges, I didn’t even send an application to Ole Miss. A few days before the scholarships deadline for Ole Miss I decided to make an application “just in case” and toured Ole Miss to serve as a baseline to compare the other schools I toured to it with. I never had the magic moment like a lot of other people did, no school did that for me. I chose Ole Miss because it was the school that, in it’s tour and general attitude, felt like it wanted me to be a student there and succeed at it, not just allow me to be one like I’d felt elsewhere. I was a little unsure of my choice going into my first semester but being a student at Ole Miss is what really made me love it. Slowly uncovering all the opportunities, the school really had to offer rather than one magic moment or something on a brochure.
When and how did you choose your major(s)/minor(s)?
I initially applied as an electrical engineering major. Before stepping foot on campus, I changed my major to psychology because during my senior year of high school I’d exhausted all the math classes my school had to offer so I didn’t take a math that year and was very happy to not do so. During the second semester of freshman year however, I realized that, if I stayed on the path I was, I wouldn’t taking the same quantity of hard sciences after sophomore year. Because of the quality and genuinely positive experiences I had in the hard sciences classes here at Ole Miss, I wanted to stay in the departments and have classes with the phenomenal professors into my senior year. I particularly enjoyed my chemistry classes so I changed my major to chemistry with a minor in biology. The department truly made me fall in love with the subject and I see my future involving it.
Can you tell me about a professor or a class you’ve taken that has had the most impact on you?
Dr. Ritchie has had a massive impact on me and my life. He taught the honors sections of general chemistry that I took and having him be my first real introduction into the field is one of the best things to happen to me from a professional standpoint. His passion and energy for the subject was infectious. His class is what made me want to be a chemistry major and continue taking classes like it.
What has been one of your most memorable or enjoyable moments at UM?
I think one of the best few weeks of my college experience so far was playing in the pit for the university’s production of Into the Woods. I’m a violist and wound up being a part of the orchestra for the theatre department’s mainstage show of that semester. It was so incredibly busy, I’d be physically exhausted by intermission, and during dress rehearsal I remember cramming in study time for a biology exam between musical numbers, but I absolutely loved the experience. That was one of the times it clicked how interconnected the Ole Miss community was. Seeing all these different performers, musicians, and stage crew members working together to put a show on was something else. I was even more surprised by how many people weren’t even majoring in the arts, myself included, and were involved simply because they wanted to be. This school will allow you to do everything and anything you want to do. You won’t be forced into a certain box or path.
What do you hope to do after you graduate?
I hope to attend a dual degree MD-PhD program, spending time in medical school and graduate school to obtain the necessary skills to be a physician-scientist. My career goals are to run a lab associated with a medical school or teaching hospital, spending my time in research, teaching students, and treating patients to push the science of medicine forward.
Apart from school, how do you spend your time in Oxford? What are your hobbies, favorite places to go, etc.?
I’m involved in the arts and spend time with the theater and music departments. Being a string musician is a huge part of my life. I like spending time with friends and roadtrips. Campus is lively and there’s always something to do.
What is one thing you wish you knew as an incoming freshman that you’d tell your past self (about the general college experience)?
It’s everything everyone tells you it is, it’s all kind of true. Both the good and the bad. It’s very difficult to explain and you really only get it once you start living it but I really do love it. Manage your time well and you can have fun while still being successful in your classes.