Two future chemistry teachers receive Hach scholarships

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KINGSTON, R.I. — October 22, 2007 — Two University of Rhode Island students, Matthew Hooper of Charlestown and Mitchell Trainor of Amenia, New York, who have a passion for chemistry and teaching are the first URI recipients of the $6,000 Hach Scientific Foundation scholarships, which will help pay for their dual degrees. The foundation provides two $6,000 scholarships, earmarked for URI students with financial need and academic aptitude. The scholarships are renewable each year, providing students maintain at least a 3.0 academic average and sign a yearly intent to become chemistry teachers.

Bryce Hach, the foundation’s director of scholarships and university relations, established the scholarships at URI and other land grant universities in 2006 as part of a national effort to increase the number of chemistry teachers. The foundation is based in Colorado. “Teachers have a profound influence,” Hach said at the time, noting that only 27 percent of high school chemistry teachers have a degree in chemistry.

“We appreciate these timely scholarship awards from the Hach Scientific Foundation to support two of our top students in chemistry who plan to become chemistry teachers,” says Winifred Brownell, dean of URI’s College of Arts and Sciences. “The Foundation just invited our students to attend a conference in Colorado where they will have an opportunity to meet and interact with other talented Hach scholars. There is still a serious shortage of chemistry teachers in the United States and the Hach awards will encourage more talented students in chemistry to enter the teaching profession.”

Hooper plans to finish his chemistry degree next May and complete his secondary education degree in May 2009. He works in a URI research laboratory and loves it. “I have had the privilege of working beside brilliant people,” he says. Rather than stay in the research arena, the Chariho High School academic superstar prefers to pass on his excitement for science. Chemistry, he says, is pervasive throughout society. “I know that I will not be the next scientist to create a miracle drug that will cure a deadly disease such as AIDS or cancer, but I feel that our chances of curing life-threatening illnesses will greatly improve if we can get more young minds interested in the sciences, particularly chemistry.”

Trainor, a sophomore at URI, decided to become a teacher because of his experiences in the classroom and on the athletic fields. His high school history teacher allowed him and a few peers to teach on several occasions. During several recent summers, he was soccer camp counselor and loved working with kids. “I can’t imagine a career where I wasn’t helping children,” he says. He became hooked on chemistry because his high school chemistry teacher’s interest in the subject and in his pupils. Several of Trainor’s family members have been or are in the chemistry field.

Pictured above

THE RIGHT FORMULA: From left URI student Mitchell Trainor, Professor of Education David Byrd, Dean of URI’s College of Arts and Sciences Winifred Brownell, URI student Matthew Hooper, and Professor and Chair of URI’s Chemistry Department William Euler gather for a photo. Trainor and Hooper are the first recipients of a Hach Foundation scholarship. URI Photo by Nora Lewis.