This exchange between Dr. Libby Puckett and one of her students, Nicole Reilly ’11, reveals a life-changing relationship between a student and her professor. Reilly choose Appalachian State University in part because Puckett, who is dedicated to developing strong female scientists and role models, spent valuable time with Reilly as a high school senior touring the chemistry department.
About Appalachian State University
Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System, Appalachian enrolls more than 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.
Nicole Reilly: Well I’m a chemistry major so the course work is very interdisciplinary. But I really feel like it’s definitely what I want to do. It’s definitely the career I want to go into. I really feel like I know my professors. I never feel like it’s, “This is what you have to know.” It’s always been, “This is how you learn.”
Libby Puckett: Giving them skills, that’s what we want to do. We want to give them the tools that they need to succeed in the future. I think if you make it about real life and why it’s important, they’ll want to learn more. I want them to be inspired by it. I want them to be encouraged and enthused. It’s just the love of chemistry and wanting that to be contagious.
NR: When I was a senior in high school I was interested in pursuing chemistry and specifically forensics. I knew another member of the chemistry department. He told me to contact Dr. Puckett.
LP: It’s vey important to make sure we emphasize making strong female scientists and to make strong female role models in the sciences.
NR: She gave me a tour of the chemistry lab and just really took an interest in my goals and my career aspirations and at that point I hadn’t even considered Appalachian as a school. Her taking that much of an interest without knowing me, without having anything to gain from it, was just amazing. It’s a wonderful feeling when someone looks at you and tells you, “I want to give you this time, I think you’re worth it.”
LP: I just want them to feel how I wanted to feel. I wanted them to feel at home at a place I wanted to go to school. I want nothing more than for the students to be exactly where they are going to thrive.
NR: People are always talking about that one influential person in your life and Dr. Puckett is that person for me. I wouldn’t have known that research is what I wanted to do. I wouldn’t have had as much faith in my abilities and in my intelligence. I really feel like without her, I wouldn’t be nearly as prepared for life.
LP: It’s a blessing and it’s a curse. It’s a blessing that these wonderful people have come into my life and metamorphsised into these fine young scientists. It’s also a curse because every four years I have to lose them, too. It breaks my heart to lose them, but I know I won’t ever really lose them. They’re going to be with me forever.
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