North Central College - Naperville, IL

Student Finds Big Adventures at a Small College

How do you combine French and chemistry with forensics, flute and community service? Sarah Brady '08 found the answer at North Central College.

When Brady was searching for the right college, she never dreamed she'd end up at a small school. A native of Oshkosh, WI, she wanted to double major in French and chemistry and found that many large schools were not open to this unique combination. While the family visited Illinois, her father convinced her to attend a Visit Day at North Central. She was impressed with study abroad programs, knowing that she wanted to study in France. After her tour, she was convinced that North Central was the school for her.

"I was sold, and my dad still won't let me forget it!" Brady says.

She jumped right into new activities. On the forensics team, she has specialized in informative speaking and has advanced to the state, regional and national levels. In March, she was named an American Forensics Association All-American, an award based on forensics success, community service and academic achievement. She also competes on the debate team and was named a state champion, along with her team partner, Cathi Martin '08.

She studied abroad in Angers, France, and now serves as a study abroad student ambassador, speaking to students about her experience. Brady also takes flute lessons and works in the Office of Admission as a student ambassador, staying in touch with prospective students from Wisconsin. She has participated in Habitat for Humanity trips to West Virginia and Mississippi and, most recently, led a trip to Tacoma, WA. "I learned it's much more than building houses," Brady says.

She is a member of Student Affiliates of the American Chemistry Society and she presented a research paper at the Rall Symposium for Undergraduate Research titled "Re-thinking Political Influence in Scientific Controversies," based on one of her award-winning forensics speeches about government interference in scientific research.

"I didn't want to drop anything," Brady says of her extensive campus involvement. "I wanted to make the most of my time and take advantage of these opportunities."

This fall, Brady will attend graduate school at the University of Oregon to focus on green chemistry, a field that encourages sustainability and environmental consciousness. She hopes to work for a company that has ties to France. "I want to find a job I love and apply what I've learned and keep learning. I want to make an impact on my community," she says.

Reflecting on her time at North Central, Brady says, "It's important to step outside the box and do things you're not initially interested in, because those might turn out to be your favorite things." Brady learned this lesson early and it looks like giving a small school a chance has been one of her most successful adventures yet.

North Central NOW Spring 2008