Chapters

Spotlight: Salt Lake Chapter Bonds Community with Chemistry

SLCC chapter members at the 2016 ACS Spring National Meeting Undergraduate Poster Session

  • Chapter president: Deborah West and Sierra Cunningham
  • Chapter members: 218
  • ACS Student members: 189
  • Institution description: Large, public, urban, two-year

In what ways does your chapter give back to the community?

We organized a fundraiser for the Primary Children’s Medical Center’s Festival of Trees and raised over $6,000 for their Kids in Need program. We also conducted 12 Elemental Expeditions to local elementary schools to get kids excited about chemistry through hands-on demonstrations.

What is your most successful fundraiser to date?

Last year we were able to raise all funds needed to attend ACS’s spring national meeting by working concessions at Utah Jazz basketball games. The arena gave a matching donation to our funds.

What else would you like inChemistry readers to know about your chapter?

Our biggest strength comes from our dedicated chemistry faculty who are always there to lend a hand, provide encouragement, give directions, and readily support our chapter activities.

What social events has your chapter organized recently?

At the end of spring semester, we hosted a members’ retreat to Lava Hot Springs, Idaho. We were able to get away from the stress of school and take part in exciting team-building exercises. We also held a student-faculty-alumni golf tournament last April.

How have your members benefited from attending a recent ACS regional, national, or local section meeting?

We recently attended the ACS national meeting in San Diego where our chapter received the ACS Outstanding Award and the Green Chemistry Award. Most of our undergraduate research projects received presentation awards. Being able to attend this conference and win awards inspired all of our members to reach a goal of high achievement this coming semester.

How do you ensure a smooth officer transition from year to year?

In the spring, we have elections to fill opening positions before the current officers leave to allow for a mentoring period. During the fall semester, we keep in close contact with past officers via email and phone conversations.

What is your most successful recruiting event/method?

Our Chemical Information Series (CIS) is, by far, the most effective activity we do for recruitment and retention. The CIS encourages student member participation by conducting activities related to many of the professional careers that our students are pursuing.

What else would you like inChemistry readers to know about your chapter?

Our biggest strength comes from our dedicated chemistry faculty who are always there to lend a hand, provide encouragement, give directions, and readily support our chapter activities.

Faculty Advisor: Ron Valcarce

How did you become a faculty advisor?

Having been active myself in an ACS student chapter as an undergraduate, I knew of the opportunities for leadership, camaraderie, education, and service the ACS Undergraduate Programs Office could provide. I wanted our students here at SLCC to have the same experiences.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of your service as a faculty advisor?

I have particularly enjoyed watching new officers gain confidence as they interact and learn to lead the chapter. The skills they learn in these leadership positions help these students make the transition to a four-year institution and ultimately to their chosen profession.

What challenges have you faced in your position?

Because SLCC is a two-year institution, we have a high rate of student membership turnover. Many times students do not join our chapter until their sophomore year, and then have only one year of membership before they move on to a four-year institution. So we have to be very active in recruiting and training new officers on a yearly basis.

What advice can you offer those new to the advisor position?

Let your students run the chapter and make their own decisions. I have always felt that the role of advisor is to help the students get organized, support their dreams, give them direction, keep them out of trouble and then get out of their way.