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Cheryl Vaughn Ph.D.

During Women's History Month, Columbus State is profiling women professors in the STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and Medical) fields. Here, Chemistry Prof. Cheryl Vaughn tells her story in her own words.

I first realized that I liked math and science when I was in middle school, but, for some reason, I thought that the only career path for someone who liked science was to be a medical doctor. So I began my freshman year of college with the plan of pursuing a major in biology and attending medical school.

I enjoyed the challenge of the college biology and chemistry classes I took my freshman and sophomore years. While I still pursued working as a medical doctor, I was intrigued by the scientific research I heard my professors talk about, and visiting lecturers discuss. The summer after my sophomore year in college, I had the opportunity to work in a research lab.

Some days we were working on a piece of equipment, other days running experiments, other days analyzing data, other days meeting with others to discuss our work. Overall, we were taking a systematic approach to solving a problem that no one knew the answer to. And that was exciting. Upon returning to college for my junior year, I changed my major to chemistry and began to move away from the mindset of working as a medical doctor and towards doing research.

After college I attended graduate school. I loved working on research in the lab; however, working as a teaching assistant, I learned I also loved teaching students.

Plans change. I'm not a medical doctor, I'm not doing research in a big industrial lab, I'm teaching chemistry at Columbus State, a job I never would have guessed I would have, but a job I love! I have the opportunity to teach students pursuing careers in medicine, pharmacy, veterinary medicine, and numerous other science fields.

Beyond that, I am involved in coordinating Fantastic Fridays, a program which brings middle school students from around Columbus to Columbus State to do science experiments in our labs. I have the chance to show science experiments to students at the same age I first realized my interest in science. And I have the chance to teach college students about chemistry as they are pursuing the education for their future careers.


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