August 30, 2012
This fall, 144 freshmen began their academic careers in the College of Chemistry — 60 in chemical and biomolecular engineering, 63 in chemical biology and 21 in chemistry. In addition, 84 junior transfer students joined them — 36 in CBE, 30 in chemical biology and 18 in chemistry.
On Tuesday, August 21, the college held its annual welcome and orientation for the new students. An excited but nervous group entered 100 Lewis. A few hours later, they left for a reception looking far more relaxed and confident.
This transformation was mostly the result of an informal yet serious give-and-take with fellow students during the question-and-answer period. Responses from faculty and staff members also helped sooth frayed nerves.
Undergraduate Dean Marcin Majda introduced the first speakers, the four faculty members who will be leading the intro classes in CBE and chemistry. CBE professor Jeff Reimer will teach CBE 140, Introduction to Chemical Process Analysis, while professor Rachel Segalman will teach CBE 40, Introduction to Chemical Engineering Design.
Chemistry professor Birgitta Whaley will teach Chem 4A, General Chemistry and Quantitative Analysis, while professor Anne Baranger will teach Chem 96, Introduction to Research and Study in the College of Chemistry.
The main event at the gathering was the Q&A with four continuing students, Aakriti Jain (CBE, junior), Elizabeth McCarthy (ChemBio, sophomore), Neil Thomas (CBE, sophomore) and Jason Chen (CBE, senior).
The incoming students heard that they should not take on too much during their first year. The advice was to take a reasonable course load, save time for extracurricular activities (including sleep) and to study in groups. The incoming students were warned that they should not be disillusioned if, for the first time in their lives, they are not the smartest students in class. At Berkeley everyone is talented and hard-working.
After a round of questions on nuts-and-bolts topics like how to save money on textbooks, and after hearing from members of student organizations, the participants congregated on the chemistry plaza for an informal get-together over bagels and sandwiches in the late summer sunshine.
Said freshman adviser Maura Daly, “This was one of the best welcome and orientation sessions we’ve had. The questions were good, and the quality and liveliness of the discussion were really special.”