Conor Bready

Conor Bready '24

  • Major: Chemistry, Applied Mathematics, Data Analytics Minor
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In his own words...

"Furman Engaged is a day for all Furman students to take time off from classes and learn more about the things that they find truly interesting and how it might look in a future job setting. Between the Paladin Pitch competition, the various asynchronous posters, and the wonderful presentations done by fellow students, anyone can learn about virtually anything they want to. However, while all the work is done at the highest level imaginable by college students, the things that stood out to me the most was definitely the synchronous presentations.

I attended multiple presentations from students all doing chemistry research, as that is what interests me the most. However, instead of finding what looks more like a science fair with students standing at their poster boards satisfied with the work they completed for a grade, this experience was shocking. It seemed that no matter which student was presenting, all of them were truly excited about the research they had completed. Every single one of them demonstrated that all the work they had done was not because it was forced, but because they were given the opportunity to express themselves and learn more about whatever deep questions they desired to further understand. Just from seeing the expressions of these students alone, I can tell that having the ability to be engaged is far more beneficial than anything else one might look for, including in future jobs.

The main difference I believe between student research at a small school like Furman and a larger research institute is the feeling of being personally connected. I have seen presentations done by students who attend larger universities as well as talked with students from these universities when deciding what school to attend, and it seemed to all boil down to the same conclusion: the professor picks the research topic, and the students have no say. Yet here at Furman, this process seems to be almost reversed. In so many scenarios I have encountered, students have told me what they wanted to research and the professors that were best suited for that field would help them with it. I believe that this one thing alone could be considered the “Furman Advantage” that makes it stand out among other schools, yet Furman offers so much more to provide its students.

However, out of all of the presentations I witnessed, one stood out to me the most. A student by the name of Hannah Thomas gave a presentation on some very complex topics involved in both physical chemistry and computational chemistry. Besides her research being on topics that I found interesting previously, it was more her background that caught my attention. Hannah is not a chemistry major, or a major in any science field in fact, but a mathematics major. I learned that Hannah had previously taken some chemistry classes here at Furman because she found them interesting, and after one of them her professor recommended her to other chemistry professors as an excellent student that could add value to their research. Instead of Hannah having to go out of her way to find a topic that she wanted to research and propose it to a professor, the professor found her. This truly demonstrated that the professors here want as much of a personable relationship with their students that the students want with their professors.

I had previously known that I would complete undergraduate research here at Furman. In fact, when I first heard about Furman Engaged and that I would need to present to my peers on what I had done, I just saw it as another meaningless task that had to be done. However, today proved me wrong. The way I saw students talk about their research like it meant everything to them and have peers cheer them on and support them by listening to their talks (even when they have no clue what is actually happening) really just showed me how close of a community Furman has."