Liz LeJeune BA ’22 Receives AAUW Senior Woman Recognition Award
At the end of every academic year, Lewis & Clark faculty members select one undergraduate student for the AAUW Senior Woman Recognition Award, honoring outstanding scholarship, character, personality, contributions to campus and community life, and potential for future achievement. This year’s award went to Liz LeJeune BA ’22, a mathematics and chemistry double major from Lakewood, Colorado.
What was your reaction to winning the AAUW award?
I was honestly quite stunned. I did not think I was a strong candidate. I’m grateful for all my friends, family, and faculty who have shaped who I am today and helped get me to where I am now.
Why did you choose to attend L&C?
I knew I wanted to live in the Pacific Northwest because of the weather and the landscape. When I toured campus, I immediately felt Lewis & Clark would be a good fit–the size and location easily drew me in. Having attended a liberal arts school since seventh grade, I knew that I preferred an education that encourages interdisciplinary work. Ultimately, deciding to attend L&C was one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever made.
What L&C experiences helped shape your path?
My experiences as an RA and peer tutor, where I fostered close relationships with my peers and built welcoming spaces, led me to volunteer with my local food pantry, where I could engage similarly with my community. My organic chemistry class piqued my interest in chemistry and its applications, but I wasn’t committed. I dropped the chemistry major at some point but decided to pick it back up after a summer of research in Dr. Louis Kuo’s lab. I found myself comfortable in the lab setting and enjoying the analytical side of chemistry.
How about faculty mentors?
Sweta Suryanarayan (assistant professor with term of mathematics), Anne Bentley (associate professor of chemistry), and Louis Kuo (professor of chemistry) have all been wonderful professors and mentors. They are enthusiastic about what they teach, and they welcome curiosity and struggle. They demonstrate how deeply they care for their students through their compassion and flexibility and have provided me with heaps of academic and emotional support for which I am so thankful. They are very fun to chat with, and I am grateful for their time and every conversation I’ve had with them. Their patience, support, and kindness have been such a blessing these past four years.
What do you think makes L&C special?
Perhaps I’ve just gotten lucky, but every professor I have had has been absolutely wonderful. The level of empathy and flexibility of my professors is honestly astounding and a really nice surprise. They are excited about what they teach and genuinely care about their students. The size of the school definitely plays a role, but there’s something truly remarkable about the effort my professors take to build deeper relationships with students.
What are your plans for the future?
I will be doing chemistry research for the summer with Dr. Kuo through the Rogers Science Program. Ideally, I will begin applying for graduate school this winter to pursue a master’s in analytical chemistry. Other more long-term plans include travel. I have a long list of museums and historical sites I would love to see, and I’d like to refine my Spanish skills.