University News

New Alumnus Introduces Young Minds to Science

May 04, 2016
Author: Lexi Carter
Category: Academics

New Alumnus Introduces Young Minds to ScienceClimbing her way through school and life, Sidney Vowles from Orem, Utah, stands as an example of academic achievement as SUU's 2016 Scholar of the Year.

Receiving a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry at the University Commencement held April 30, Vowles has dedicated innumerable hours to her studies and research while attending Southern Utah University.

Beginning her collegiate career as a biology major, this rock-climbing Thunderbird knew she wanted to work in the medical field one day.

“I love learning about biology, but I was taken with understanding the world at a more foundational level, and that is what chemistry gives me,” says Vowles. “I want to study medicine, so I’ll be surrounded by biology studies the rest of my life, but I wanted my background and basis for education to be chemical.”

Though her studies have consumed the majority of her time, Vowles works hard during the week so she can rock climb with friends during the weekend. On top of studies and climbing, Vowles served as the president of the Chemistry Club and helped teach science to elementary school children.

“It's fun to see little kids get excited when you make water disappear,” she says. “I also loved talking with high school students about chemistry and encouraging them to attend college.”

Inspired by her time instructing elementary children, Vowles is looking to work with Teach For America, a nonprofit organization focused on providing quality educators right out of college to teach in low-income communities. A two-year commitment, the idea of igniting a flame within the minds of children and adolescents excites Vowles.

“Science teachers are hard to find in general, but especially chemistry teachers,” she says. “Educators have been so influential in my life, so being able to give back and help a new generation of scientists understand the workings of the world will be so rewarding. I want to introduce young minds to the world of science that I love.”

Dr. Mackay Steffensen, associate professor of chemistry at SUU, has worked with Vowles extensively as her professor and fellow researcher. 

“Sidney is an exceptionally talented and hardworking student, in addition to being one of the most pleasant people you’ll have the pleasure of interacting with,” says Steffensen. “She has one of the most mature approaches to education I have encountered in all of my nine years of teaching. Sidney represents all the best aspects of SUU.”

After her time with Teach For America, Vowles plans on attending medical school and training to become either an OB/GYN or to work in surgery. She hopes to help women and young girls feel comfortable with healthcare issues.

Supporting her through the good and bad are Vowles’ parents, who she says are her biggest cheerleaders.

“None of this would be possible without them,” says Vowles. “As long as I am working hard, they take care of what I need and are so supportive. They are the best.”

SUU is proud to have such an outstanding and aspiring student represent the school as Scholar of the Year. 



Contact Information:
Nikki Koontz
435-586-5487
nikkikoontz@suu.edu