by Rebecca Rakoczy
Alexandra “Xandra” Brosius loves to dance, and on weekends, you’ll find her at a local studio, rehearsing and practicing the latest choreographed movement.
But as much as she enjoys it, her love of dance has been eclipsed by her passion for science. That passion, she says, has been fueled by the enthusiasm and dedication of Georgia Perimeter College’s science instructors.
“I was bringing my chemistry books to read during dance warm-ups,” she says. “And it wasn’t just to study—I really enjoyed learning about the material.”
Brosius lists geology professor Dr. Pamela Gore and chemistry professor Dr. Mike Nelson among the many GPC professors who helped ignite what was at first just her natural curiosity about science.
“Dr. Gore is very enthusiastic about science—her energy is infectious,” says Brosius. “She invited the class to register for a Georgia Geological Society field trip to Stone Mountain, and I decided to go along. The trip helped me tie in concepts that were covered in her lecture.”
That enthusiasm spilled over to her chemistry class with Nelson and eventually led to her current career path.
“Becoming interested in chemistry was a cumulative process,” explains Brosius. “I read 11 library books on chemistry during my Chemistry 1211 class, as well as PDFs on chemistry related topics, and I just couldn’t stop reading.”
But it was in class—and during discussions afterward—that she learned how to think like a chemist.
“Dr. Nelson shared his experiences in graduate school, and I realized I could see myself doing chemistry-related research,” Brosius says. Nelson’s teaching style is very interactive, she adds.
“He allowed the whole class to develop definitions, rather than simply telling us. This was a great way to allow students who had read ahead in the text to share their knowledge, while allowing other students to think through calculations. He also was happy to stay late after class explaining concepts and calculations.”
While at GPC, Brosius worked as a tutor in the Clarkston Tutoring Center and won the collegewide 2012 physical science student award. As a STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Talent Expansion program) scholar, she worked in the biology lab with Dr. Pamela Leggett-Robinson.
This past summer she interned at Emory University, studying the kinetics of “peptide nanotube self-assembly.”
“A peptide is a unit protein; the self-assembly of peptides relates to the formation of the first biomolecules,” she explains. “This research will contribute to the development of an environmentally responsive material.”
In the fall, Brosius transferred to Agnes Scott College where she is majoring in chemistry. She was asked to work in the chemistry department after less than two weeks at the college.
Brosius encourages other students to take advantage of the opportunities at Georgia Perimeter and meet fellow science majors by getting involved in the MESA, STEP and ENLISTEM programs. All three programs foster growth and learning while easing the cost of a STEM education, she says. “And STEP requires community service in STEM areas, which allowed me to feel a sense of personal involvement in my community,” she adds.
Brosius doesn’t hesitate when asked if she would encourage other students to consider Georgia Perimeter.
“GPC is an amazing place—professors encourage students to think for themselves, which is a skill necessary for completing a four-year degree. The community is strong, vibrant and encouraging. It will give you a strong foundation that you take with you wherever you go to continue pursing your dreams.”