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Brandon Rodgers is a 19-year-old Columbus State student – but his resume already includes published scientific research.

Rodgers presented on “The Effect of Acid Rain on Denitrification in the Environment” at the annual conference of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science of America and the Soil Science Society of America in Minneapolis in November 2015.

He was the youngest presenter by far, and one of few without a master’s degree or Ph.D.

“Originally I was a little nervous, but the atmosphere was such that everyone was there to help each other.” said Rodgers. “Being at the conference with all these major players in the environmental science game makes you feel pretty good about yourself.”

Rodgers prides himself on his ambition and Columbus State was his first choice for beginning his education.

Columbus State features the lowest tuition in the region and transfer agreements that allow students to start here, then transfer to a four-year college to complete a bachelor’s degree. Rodgers plans to study neuroscience, which will involve many years of schooling, so it was important to start his college career without student loan debt.

“My goal is to go debt-free for my bachelor’s degree,” Rodgers said.

Rodgers plans to attend Ohio State University, but he’s weighing his options after scholarship offers from Ivy League schools like Cornell University. Although some worry that a community college won’t be prestigious enough, Rodgers looks to his father’s advice.

“My dad’s a really successful man, and he makes a lot of money, but he went to a school that most people have never heard of,” Rodgers said. “He tells me that when he hires people he doesn’t even look at where their degree comes from. He just wants to know that they can do the work and that they can do it efficiently.”

Aside from the cost advantage, Columbus State’s small classes allowed Rodgers to get to know his professors. After serving as vice president of the STEMM club and tutoring peers in biology classes, he caught the attention of Dr. Mort Javadi. Javadi asked him to stay after class one day.

“I thought I did something wrong, like ‘what the heck did I do?’ I was acing every test. He just told me I was doing really well and, if I ever needed anything, to just ask him.”

A week after Rodgers has submitted his final, he decided to take Javadi up on his offer, and wound up collaborating with the professor on his research. That opportunity culminated with Rodgers’ presentation at the conference in November.

Rodgers said he is thankful for the chance to form such a meaningful relationship with a professor at Columbus State and sees it as an important foundation for his future educational career.

“Along the way, Dr. Javadi has been extremely nice and extremely helpful. He’s just given me a great opportunity. I’ll always be so thankful because it’s going to open so many doors,” Rodgers said.

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