Anthony Varelas, ICC member, demonstrates how to make green fire for the chemistry club at Room 1 of the Science Village on Thursday, November 13. Varelas is in charge of all the demonstrations in the chemistry club. (Chris Martinez/Courier)
Anthony Varelas, ICC member, demonstrates how to make green fire for the chemistry club at Room 1 of the Science Village on Thursday, November 13. Varelas is in charge of all the demonstrations in the chemistry club. (Chris Martinez/Courier)

The American Chemical Society (ACS) recently recognized the PCC chemistry club for its diligent work during the Fall 2013 and Spring 2014 academic year and was recognized for outstanding achievement, honorable mention and green chemistry.

The chemistry club was initiated at PCC in 2011 and was officially chartered and recognized through the Pasadena City College Inter-Club Council Associate Student Body in Fall of 2012. The club is also a chartered student organization associated with the ACS, which is a society of chemistry professionals, undergraduate and graduate students.

The dean of natural sciences, David Douglass, as well as the club advisors and natural sciences instructors Veronica Jaramillo and Peter Castro were the first to be notified by the ACS of the awards earned by the PCC chemistry club.

“I am very proud of the PCC Chemistry Club’s dedication to promoting Green Chemistry and environmental sustainability and receiving the well-deserved outstanding award by the ACS,” Jaramillo said. “This designation is important to the club in rewarding their efforts and inspiring them to continue in this path, and last year’s hard work.”

“I’m thrilled!” added Kayla Stepanian, club vice-president. “I’m extremely proud of the dynamics of our board and the activities that we organize. This club works so hard to please its members and I hope we thrive to be even more outstanding.”

The chemistry club concentrates on increasing awareness throughout campus and the local community grade schools about the importance of chemistry and science in general.

The work that led the chemistry club to receive three awards included outreach to fifth grade classes at both Jefferson Elementary School and Norma Coombs Alternative School where they did hands-on workshops with kids using water and non-toxic materials and hosting campus seminars centered on research that will solve the energy problems for the future. They also participated in CicLAvia, an event held in Los Angeles where streets are closed to motor vehicles and open for the public to walk, bike, and skate through the open streets, and joined the SEAL program in studying potential metal oxides to act as catalysts for photoelectrical water splitting. Additionally, the club planned and and ran the first Chemistry Bowl event, a chemistry competition for chemistry clubs from local universities, colleges, and community colleges, as well as, holding end of the semester celebrations.

“This is barely our second year and we received three awards,” said Natalie Martinez, club president from fall 2012 to spring 2014. “Words can’t explain how proud I am for our dedicated members because it wouldn’t be possible without them. It’s unbelievable and I’m very proud.”

Without Martinez, the chemistry club would not be the club it is today. When Castro and Jaramillo had the vision of creating a chemistry club, they recruited Martinez along with a few other science students to help develop it. However, within the first few meetings, they found almost all students backing out, leaving Martinez with all the work.

“I knew nothing about running a club, I knew nothing about the paperwork…I didn’t know anything,” Martinez said. “I had to learn all on my own so I spent a lot of time in student affairs…It was very brutal first semester.”

The club started mid-semester in fall of 2012, which made it difficult to recruit students since they started after club week and students were already looking toward to finishing the semester. By second semester, spring 2013, Martinez said “we were dedicated and determined.”

They were successful in recruiting more students by engaging at club week, creating a Facebook page, talking to fellow classmates and approaching students in all science classes with the goal of informing them that there was a chemistry club on campus.

“Being part of ACS, I think that’s what attracted students as well because students in the science major they want to network with professionals and about research opportunities and internships, and graduates schools, they want to know about that stuff,” said Martinez.

Even though the club had a rough start their first semester, they were able to do enough work second semester to be recognized and awarded for honorable mention by ACS.

“We were surprised that we got one because starting off as a new club, our first semester was brutal not having any members and just trying to keep the club up with less than 10 members, maybe three really dedicated members. So for us to get honorable mention, we were shocked,” said Martinez.

At the end of every spring, the club holds elections for new board members that will start their newly elected positions in the fall. Now that Martinez is no longer an active member, Patrick Dorabedian, newly elected president and Kevin Tsang, elected co-president are the ones left with the responsibility helping the club thrive.

“For me myself, it feels really good [for the club to be awarded] but it also puts a great amount of responsibility on my shoulders because honestly, those were the achievements of my predecessors,” Dorabedian said. “The two presidents from last year set the bar for me. It lets me know what I have to live up to.”

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