“Being able to have a student–teacher relationship was very important to me.” So says Alicen Miller, chemistry major and co-captain of the Saint Mary’s Cross Country team. When the senior was considering Saint Mary’s in high school, the College’s small class size (now an average of 16 students per class) and great chemistry program clinched the decision for her. Now this future MD or PhD—she hasn’t decided which—is in her last year as a chemistry major.
Miller’s interest in chemistry sparked in high school, when a beloved teacher introduced her to the subject. The Fishers, Ind., native now has a mentor at Saint Mary’s—Professor Dorothy Feigl. “She is an incredible teacher,” says Miller. “The past two years, I have worked for her prepping all the organic chemistry labs. We’ve established a great relationship.” That relationship has carried through to Miller’s senior year. She is now working to complete her advanced writing requirement, and Feigl is her advisor for the project. “I’m excited to work with her on another level, and learn even more from her,” says Miller.
But Miller isn’t just a chemistry buff. This year she is helping lead the Cross Country squad to victory on the trails. “The Cross Country team is like my family on campus,” she says. “We push each other through workouts, encourage each other through races, and have fun with team bonding activities.” Though she doesn’t have a lot of free time, Miller’s extracurricular activities stretch beyond running to volunteering. She helped reinstall the Circle K club on campus; she volunteers with the award-winning Dance Marathon program; and she is involved with SMAACS.
SMAACS stands for Saint Mary’s Affiliates of the American Chemical Society. Miller is the club treasurer this year. The position is a chance for her to give back to a campus department that has given her so much. “The whole chemistry department has been unbelievably supportive,” Miller says. “I love the challenge of the subject, the small class sizes, and the hands-on learning that comes with the labs.”
Miller’s words are testimony to the significance of working with dedicated professors like Feigl. Her tone is reflective, as she looks forward to her professional future, and savoring her last year at Saint Mary’s. “Every class and experience has taught me new things and expanded my horizons,” says Miller. “I will walk away a more confident woman, with the skills to achieve whatever I want.”