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Q&A: Westminster native thriving in STEM scholars program at Carroll Community College

Genevieve Thacker, a 19-year-old Westminster resident, is in the STEM scholars program at Carroll Community College.
Genevieve Thacker, a 19-year-old Westminster resident, is in the STEM scholars program at Carroll Community College. (Courtesy Photo)

Genevieve Thacker, 19, a Westminster resident, is currently one of Carroll Community College’s STEM scholars, a cohort program designed for motivated high school and college students who want to pursue opportunities in science, technology, engineering or mathematics and transfer to a four-year institution after completion of their associate degree at Carroll.

Thacker, who has lived in Westminster for most of her life, said she attended Westminster High School as a freshman, but found herself suffering with “severe social anxiety and depression,” which kept her from returning as a sophomore. She transferred to James Madison Online High School, but opted to get her GED in January 2019 and begin college. She said the virtual environment benefited her, but by the time she got to college, she was excited about taking in-person classes again and took advantage of those that were taught in person over the past year.

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After graduation, Thacker plans to take a gap year to pursue alternative studies, extracurricular activities, travel, and search for a graduate college where she plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in biomedical or clinical laboratory sciences.

Why did you choose to attend Carroll Community College?

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My high school experience was not like most others — I attended online classes for my last three years of high school, so I had no access to AP courses, laboratory settings, or extracurricular opportunities to build my academic resume. I began taking courses at Carroll during my last year of high school, and after the amazing interactions I had with the faculty, I was inspired to pursue my associate’s degree at Carroll Community College.

How has the community college made a difference in your life?

My admiration for learning is what led me to apply for — and gain admission into — the STEM Scholars Program, where I have been given opportunities unimaginable to me as an undergraduate student. As a 19-year-old, I will be presenting research at the Maryland Collegiate STEM Conference. Further, through this college I have been introduced to some lifelong friends. These are individuals that I made memories with over four semesters of classes together, people who I invited to my spring break plans, and some with whom I now share an apartment.

Can you provide insight into what it was like to be a STEM Scholar?

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Being a STEM Scholar made me feel as though I had a group of people who understood the challenges and rewards that come with being a STEM major. We all learned it together: how to navigate obstacles, how to support and celebrate each other’s success, and how to be good students independent of one another. I not only gained a reliable group of people with whom I shared a similar college experience, but I was also introduced to some opportunities I wouldn’t have been able to obtain myself. Completing undergraduate research worthy of a conference presentation, meeting successful science personnel in the positions we all plan to pursue, gaining professional traits, networking abilities, and exclusive information about transfer colleges are just some examples of this.

Please tell us about your co-curricular or community service activities.

Helping and teaching others became a passion of mine that I wasn’t expecting to discover. Accordingly, it was a determining factor in my decision to take a position I was recommended for: becoming a math tutor at Carroll. I also participate in small collaborative groups that help students understand homework, lab instructions, and lecture material more clearly.

What advice would you give a prospective Carroll students?

I would encourage any student to consider Carroll to pursue what it is they love, and to be open to opportunities to discover new passions as well. I desire to help people through science, and I believe I built a solid foundation to do so here at Carroll. I feel as though my success was benefitted in part by the relationships I made with my professors, my curiosity in understanding how and where I could improve, and my growing capability to accept and implement feedback. I believe that these practices can support anyone in becoming the best student of which they are capable, and to make the most out of their classes, faculty, and experience here at Carroll.

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