News from campus and beyond

Horhota, Anderson collaborate on ACS book chapter about college, careers

James B. Duke Library at Furman University.

Last updated July 10, 2024

By Tina Underwood

Furman University’s Michelle Horhota and Mary Elizabeth Anderson have collaborated on a book chapter in “Professional Mentoring Programs for Science Students: Career Mentoring for Students in the Physical Sciences,” a publication of the American Chemical Society.

white woman in dark dress, buildings in background

Michelle Horhota.

In the chapter, “Purposeful Pathways: Preparing Chemistry Majors at Furman University for Post-College Careers,” Horhota, a professor of psychology and associate dean of mentoring and advising, and Anderson, a professor of chemistry, described how the Department of Chemistry expanded on institutional initiatives to help students connect college experiences and competencies to career goals.

At the core of the 15-page chapter is The Furman Advantage, an integrated four-year pathway that uses mentoring and advising to spur students to think intentionally about in-class learning, engaged experiences and career exploration and readiness. Integral to The Furman Advantage is the Pathways Program, a common advising curriculum for years 1 and 2 followed by department-specific programming in years 3 and 4.

white woman in dark sweater outdoors

Mary Elizabeth Anderson.

In 2019, after the chemistry department pinpointed areas for improvement, faculty rallied around three key goals: 1) build community within the department for all students, 2) provide opportunities for career exploration and preparation, and 3) encourage student reflection to connect classroom learning with career aspirations.

Through small, manageable, yet impactful fine-tuning measures, the chemistry department made significant progress toward achieving its goals.

Minor adjustments to the chemistry program included introducing an annual chemistry major survey for juniors and seniors to help students shape next steps, posting a departmental calendar to keep students apprised of career-building programming, and holding workshops to help students prepare professional materials like LinkedIn profiles and CVs.

image of book cover

Horhota and Anderson contribute chapter to ACS book.

Horhota and Anderson also outlined new programming in chemistry geared specifically for graduate school-bound students to streamline advising. A pre-conference poster session gave students a chance to dry-run presentations for an annual regional conference. And to underscore students’ progress, the department interspersed reflection tools throughout labs and exams.

The department also found tangible ways to celebrate student milestones like declaring their major, engaging in summer research, and presenting at a conference, for example, as part of their annual spring celebration, among other morale- and community-boosting activities.

The authors pointed out that similar actions are taking place across departments at Furman.

Horhota and Anderson emphasized the importance of aligning plans with foundational initiatives in The Furman Advantage and the Pathways Program.

They also stressed leveraging departmental strengths toward making slight modifications that reap outsized rewards. To minimize duplication of effort, they urged tapping into existing Furman resources like the divisions of Academic Affairs and Student Life and drawing expertise from partners including the Center for Engaged Learning, the Malone Center for Career Engagement, the Cothran Center for Vocational Reflection, and the university’s four institutes that focus on sustainability, public policy and leadership, community health, and innovation and entrepreneurship.

Citing data from Furman’s partnership with Gallup, the authors noted significant increases in reports of student confidence in graduating with the knowledge and skills to be successful in the job market and workplace. Horhota and Anderson also reported that student perceptions of Furman’s effectiveness in communicating the wide-ranging resources available to prepare students for life after Furman rose from 55% agreement in 2019 to 74% agreement in 2022.

To access the chapter, visit this link: An ACS login can be set up at no charge. After logging in, navigate to chapter 5, “Purposeful Pathways.” Furman ID holders may access the content through databases located at Furman University Libraries.

Contact Us
Clinton Colmenares
Director of News and Media Strategy