As a May graduate from Schreiner University, and a 2018 finalist for Valedictorian, Tristan Adamson knows firsthand how big of an impact the professors at Schreiner have on their students.
When he started his freshman year at Schreiner University, Tristan was very determined to earn a bachelor’s degree in biology. However, struggling though high school science classes because of a lack of motivation, he had doubts in his abilities. On his first day of class, Tristan walked in to the first science course he was scheduled for – Dr. Vines’ General Chemistry class. He thought for sure he was one of the least prepared students, and hoped to pass with a C.
In the beginning it was very rough for Tristan. “I didn’t even know what a chemical bond was, let alone Valence Shell Electron Pair Repulsion Theory,’ said Tristan. “However, Dr. Vines had such a passion for the subject, and such a broad understanding of everything she presented to us that I began to really enjoy the class. I found myself becoming more and more interested in chemistry, and by the end of the semester I switched my major from biology to chemistry.”
At the end of his freshman year, Tristan had finished with a 4.0 GPA. He was awarded the Judith and Jo A. Beran Award for outstanding general chemistry student. He was also selected as one of the Schreiner Summer Welch Scholars for the summers of 2015 and 2016.
“During this time, I performed organic synthesis research with Dr. Vines, and I gained valuable lab experience, which inspired me to pursue a PhD in chemistry,” added Tristan. “My junior year of college was by far my hardest. Quantum mechanics and inorganic chemistry were brutally hard. However, my inorganic professor Dr. Zapata and my quantum professor Dr. Arvidsson were excellent teachers, and I am thankful for the great learning experience.”
During the summer of 2017, Tristan was one of 24 students selected nationwide to participate in the department of energy Nuclear/Radiochemistry Summer School at Brookhaven National Lab in New York. “While participating in this program, I learned a wide range of theory and applications of nuclear and radiochemistry, including radiopharmaceutical imaging and therapy. I was even invited back by the program director to be a teaching assistant for the following summer!”
Because of his experiences at Brookhaven, he found his calling to go into the field of radiochemistry. “During the fall of my senior year, I began to apply for graduate schools. The process is long and difficult, and the acceptance rate for many of the schools I applied to was very low. I will never forget how much help I got from Dr. Zapata,” added Tristan. “I can’t possibly thank him enough for the countless hours he spent going over my resume, letters of recommendation, and my personal statement. I was accepted to 2 different graduate programs in chemistry, with full tuition waivers and a yearly stipend.”
Tristan chose to join the University of Missouri and is now a first-year graduate student working toward a PhD in Radiochemistry. The University of Missouri currently has the largest research nuclear reactor at a university in the United States and employs some of the world’s top radiochemists as professors. Approximately 70% of all radiochemists working at national labs in this country earned their degree at the University of Missouri.
“Coming from a small university like Schreiner, Mizzou can be a little overwhelming, but I’m quickly learning the education I received at Schreiner has made me more than prepared to succeed,” said Tristan.
“Without the support and inspiration that the great professors at Schreiner gave me, as well as the support from my parents, I could have never accomplished the things I have so far in my short career. For that, I am extremely grateful, and I look forward to seeing what great things my fellow Schreiner alumni of the class of 2018 accomplish.”