Ready for You – Department of Biology and Chemistry

Written by: Shannon Smith

Washington Adventist University’s (WAU) Department of Biology and Chemistry is a program that encourages the academic, professional, and integral growth of its students. Under the direction of its chair, Dr. Samuel Perez, the department continues to serve the best interests of the students, to support each student in taking the steps necessary to accomplish their goals. From continuously revising and improving the structure of their curriculum to offering new and exciting opportunities, the Biology and Chemistry department faculty is ready to provide their students with a platform that will help prepare them for the future. 

The Biology and Chemistry department has one of the best retention rates for its freshmen. It has had several programs created to help support each of its students throughout the transition to college. The department offers a summer week-long preparatory course or ‘prep boot camp’ called the Science Intensive Set-Up (SCISet) for newcomers and potential students. Going into its third year, SCIset is designed to help first-year students prepare for a higher education learning environment. Students attend mock lectures facilitated by their soon-to-be professors and take mock tests to get a sense of what they will be experiencing come the fall semester. The SCISet program is an essential advantage to the student’s performance in the fall semester and acts as a guide to inform professors what would work best for their students. 

Students are provided with various opportunities to bolster their educational experience. Student Symposiums or Conventions are promoted to involve students in organizing and presenting research topics to the community. Dr. Perez, the Chair of the Biology and Chemistry department, coordinates a Journal Club where students can critique and review scientific literature and be trained in the art of critical thinking. Scientists need to be critical thinkers and not accept theories as fact. “The sciences are full of biases. We have to teach them to be critical and analyze all the evidence, and then make up their minds,” Dr. Perez said. Students are also encouraged to take advantage of available internship opportunities, scholarships, and research summer programs in the area to provide alternatives to furthering their education. 

In fostering a sense of community within its halls, the department takes great care to ensure that the students are comfortable relaxing and interacting with its faculty members. Due to the small size of the department, professors can provide one-on-one consultations with students regularly. Every other Friday, students are encouraged to join the discussion group, Stepping Up, facilitated by senior professor Dr. Melina Villanueva, and discuss topics they might be interested in. Those topics include interview skills, studying habits, test-taking strategies, career advice, general concerns they may have, or even just basic dialogue. The department also promotes special gatherings catered towards student interaction, whether that be vespers, game nights, or other social events. 

The Biology and Chemistry faculty are continuously trying to seek out ways to improve their department. Building a solid foundation can guarantee that students will get the education they need with additional benefits and programs. Currently, there are plans in place that seek to renew student laboratories with the technological instruments and equipment needed to improve research and experiments. Their most significant long-term goal aims to renovate the old Science building into a center for WAU’s new STEM Complex Facility.

Whether you have an interest in the sciences or are working towards a career path in medicine, scientific research, or otherwise, the Department of Biology and Chemistry is the place where you can find people who are passionate about supplying a holistic environment for your academic, professional, and integral growth. As a faith-based and international institution, WAU operates under Christian values and principles, learning about other cultures and perspectives and being respectful towards different philosophies, ideologies, and religions. Here, students have the chance to diversify their education, operating in Washington, D.C., or going overseas to one of our sister universities. “Take advantage of the personal touch on your education,” Dr. Perez says. “We work with you. We don’t penalize you for serving a year off. We want you to do that! We want you to grow on your own—explore the world in our department.”


Learn about this department and more departments on our “Ready For You” page: Here

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