Laura Haynes ’05, Postdoctoral Associate at the University of Vermont 

Photograph by Jessica Scranton

Major: Chemistry

Kate Queeney’s influential course: Materials Chemistry

How I ended up studying chemistry: “Kate was my randomly assigned premajor adviser. I took chemistry one semester and said, ‘I hate going to lab. Lab is the worst.’ Chemistry was my intended major, but I was in a bit of a panic over taking labs and hard sciences, so in that moment of self-doubt I considered anthropology. But when I went into her office for the next semester’s classes, she wouldn’t give me the registration code until I agreed to take organic chemistry. I think she saw that I liked chemistry—I was just scared of it.”

What bonded us: “I wanted to go to grad school, but I was worried about money. I was a first-generation undergrad, and I knew that I was going to have to also support my mother, who was sick. Kate gave me advice during the process of deciding which offer to accept, and I ended up going to the University of Colorado for a year and a half. But then my mother got sicker, and I dropped out and moved back to Vermont to take care of her. At one point, I drove back to Smith and chatted with Kate for a while because I was off the track I thought I was going to be on. I thought I had to make all the right decisions or I would ruin my entire life. I needed her to say, ‘It’s OK that you’re off course.’”

Guidance and reassurance: “I thought I was going to be this career-focused person, but I ended up taking some detours. Now that I’m planning to enter the job market in the next year or two, she’s pushing me to apply for things, helping me look for jobs.”

Compiled by Lindsey Rowe Roberts ’06