Elora Zucha graduated from the University of Dallas this summer with a B.S. in chemistry.
Zucha had initially entered UD as a biochemistry major, but quickly felt called to switch to good old-fashioned chemistry instead. She was drawn to the “constant mystery” of the subject, and genuinely enjoyed the mathematical aspect, Zucha said. Faced with a rigorous curriculum, however, Zucha was forced to adapt to manage both her studies and social life throughout her years as a Crusader.
Zucha had gone to a public high school whose curriculum did not require her to do much studying and so she never fully integrated good study habits into her routine. As a result, Zucha initially struggled with her exams.
“I didn’t really study,” she revealed, then added with a laugh, “[The] University of Dallas quickly forced me to change my study habits.” During her first semester, she focused more on making friends than on studying, a decision that quickly caught up to her.
Zucha advises freshmen, “Focus on school but don’t forget all the great times UD has to offer.” Simple wisdom, but very easy to forget.
Zucha also started as a teaching assistant for the chemistry department sophomore year, an experience she said was fun but hard work. “I hoped to help my students enjoy doing the experiments,” Zucha continued, as she had enjoyed all the chemistry lab experiments herself. She advised those interested in the challenge to stay on top of grading.
Over the course of her college years, one of her favorite memories was Groundhog. “Senior year Groundhog was the best Groundhog! We were actually able to go to the party in the park, all my friends were there and I brought my little brother to see our Groundhog tradition.” She further expressed, “I made a lot of friends during my time there and they made me a better person.”
In commenting on her favorite professors at UD, Zucha is torn between either Dr. David Catlett, a distinguished affiliate professor of chemistry, or Dr. Ellen Margarat Steinmiller, an associate professor of chemistry.
“They were always very helpful,” Zucha said. “I could tell they really wanted me to succeed and it motivated me to do better in school.” Thanks to Steinmiller, she was recommended for a research project with Dr. Said Bakkar, affiliate assistant professor of physics, with whom she did material research for a year.
Regarding what her favorite class at UD was, Zucha, after much thought, answered, “Theatre History.” When looking for a class to fulfill her art requirement, Zucha chose this class with Mr. Sefan Novinski, associate professor of drama, not because she particularly enjoyed theater, but rather because she was curious about the subject and she actually thought it would be about musical theater instead.
Much to her surprise, the class starting off in 500 B.C with the Ancient Greeks was, in fact, not about musical theater at all, and much further back in time than she expected. Despite this humorous mix-up, Zucha welcomed the change of pace and greatly appreciated learning about something entirely new, describing the class as “enthralling.”
As for Zucha’s plans post-graduation, she is currently focused on completing a Ph.D in Chemistry at the University of Houston. Zucha expressed that she initially felt anxiety as graduation crept closer and closer, but as soon as she started her Ph.D program, excitement for her future took over, and she felt prepared because of UD. Looking farther into the future, when she finishes her Ph.D, she hopes to work at a large scale company then pursue work as a chemistry teacher.