The ACS Leadership Institute is held every year to train leaders to more effectively inspire and encourage others. Leaders from all levels of the ACS come together to network, share ideas about leadership, and learn from each other. This year, 19 undergraduates received awards to attend the Institute, held from January 25-27, and one of them was the Student Chapter Secretary at Gordon College, Hanbyul Chang. Last week, I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with her about her experiences.
[This interview has been shortened from it’s original form]
C.J: So Hanbyul! You went to the ACS Leadership Institute!
H.C: I did.
How was it?
It was….very, very good. Before I went, I thought it was just going to be the 19 students who got the scholarship to go there, but when I arrived I realized it was a lot bigger. It wasn’t just students; there were people who worked in industry and professors who were either volunteering for the ACS or had some important position in the ACS. So I got to meet the members of the governing board of the ACS…it was crazy. It was basically a National ACS Leadership conference, and so people from everywhere were there. There were people from California, Chicago, Maryland, Oregon, everywhere.
And what did you do at the Institute while you were there?
Most of the time the students had our own sessions about what defined leadership and what kinds of leadership positions there were in the ACS. We had a session about planning a successful event, and another one where we focused on our student chapters and what kind of problems there were in our student chapters and discussed possible solutions. We also had one class we got to choose; I was in the Fostering Innovation session, which was about teamwork and how to get people to work with us in innovative ways. We also had a networking session, where we had to go around and meet new people, introduce ourselves to new people…just exchange business cards.
What were some things you learned while you were there?
I learned a lot about leadership. But one of the bigger themes I got from it was the feeling of being a part of a bigger society. Before I went, I never knew that the ACS was that huge! We had our student chapter and I thought that was it, but it’s such a big organization, there are so many opportunities, so many resources that I want other people to know about. It was also really interesting to meet other chemists around the country, especially others who were my age, who were students. It was cool to exchange ideas, to talk about our research and our experience. And I got a better understanding of the variety of jobs and careers available from the professional chemists.
You said you got to speak with some of the leaders of the ACS. Was there anything in their stories that spoke to you?
Well, one thing that really stuck out was their passion for the ACS. The ACS past president said at least twice that he would not be where he is now if not for the ACS, because the ACS was the organization that gave him the opportunity to lead. The current president is actually a female and Asian-American, Chinese-American, which is really nice, because I’m female, and I’m Asian…it shows me that the ACS is really incorporating the voices of the international, the minority.
As a minority and international student yourself, how does the diversity or a lack of diversity in the ACS impact you?
I love anything that is international. I really think we all need to be aware of what’s going on in other countries, all over the world. We had one night where there was a sort of informational session or fair, with different tables for different chapters and careers, and one of the tables was focused on international communication. Just looking at the ACS, and how they’re trying to share ideas and interests about chemistry across national borders, it’s really encouraging and amazing.
Awesome! Any parting words?
If you can, go [to the Leadership Institute]. It’s a really good experience. You’re going to need to network and lead all your life, and for me, it was the first time I was really exposed to networking. Additionally, I learned so, so much about leadership.
Good words. Thank you Hanbyul!
You’re welcome, thanks for having me.
Hanbyul Chang is the Chapter Secretary for the Gordon College Student Chapter of the American Chemical Society. Ethnically Korean and nationally Russian, Hanbyul is currently a sophomore chemistry major at Gordon College and has interests in analytical chemistry, forensic chemistry and law, and patent law. She is currently working with Dr. Tshudy of Gordon College on research focusing on using the catalyst TAML to conduct kinetics studies in undergraduate general chemistry laboratory experiments.
The interviewer for this post, Clyde Daly Jr., is a senior chemistry major at Gordon College with interests in nanoscience and physical chemistry. When he’s not in lab working on his research project in the Boyd group, he can be found musing on his own blog, miningasteroids, or on twitter @cjjc0.