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Chemistry club lauded for community outreach

Fresno State’s chemistry club knows how to give back, and the work is paying off.

The club, also known as CHEM club, received the American Chemical Society’s (ASC) outstanding student chapter award this year for the fifth time. The club also received the green chemistry award for the third time.

Fresno State student and club president Mee Vang said the club fulfills community outreach activities on campus and at other schools to promote science and instill knowledge.

“Last year, we went to Sunnyside High School, and we did an outreach with the Junior Doctors Academy program, which is a student-parent conference,” Vang said. “We hosted a hands-on science activity for the students to learn more content about the basics of science.”

Vang said the club also participated in an outreach program with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Service Center and Fresno State’s American Sign Language Club for deaf and hard-of-hearing children.

“What we do is promote science literacy because not a lot of people know much about science,” Vang said.

She said that she and the other officers in the club create a report of all the outreach activities they have performed the past year to send to ACS as a review to receive the awards.

To receive the green chemistry award, at least three activities must incorporate and promote green chemistry.

Fresno State chemistry instructional support technician Donnie Golden said he regularly helps the club with its activities and meetings. He said the club sends out a 50-to 60-page report to ACS covering all the community outreach work over the year.

“It’s amazing because just preparing all those documents and being organized teaches the students a considerable amount of professionalism,” Golden said.

Melissa Golden, an associate professor of inorganic chemistry, has been the faculty adviser of the club for six years.

“I review a lot of the awards from other universities across the country, so I know what people are looking for just because there are certain categories that you want to have in entering,” Golden said. “When we plan our events at the beginning of the year, we make sure we hit every category, as well as document every event, so we can meet all the criteria for the grading rubric for the actual final award.”

Golden said about 300 to 400 colleges apply for the ACS’s outstanding student chapter award each year. Only about 30 to 40 receive the award.

“When we go to the national meetings, people now recognize us,” she said. “They’ll say, ‘Oh, that’s the Fresno State chapter. They know what they’re doing.’”

“Even people within the ACS organization at the national level will call us when they need something because they know we have our act together. They rely on us to help them out.”

Vang said receiving the outstanding student chapter award helps the students of the club stand out academically and professionally.

“The club will help the active members because it will make them look better on their résumés and also it will help their letter of recommendation,” Vang said. “If the chemistry professors see that they are involved in the chemistry club, it will make the student look even better, based on their participation.”

Officers of the CHEM club will travel next spring to Dallas to receive the two awards.

“It makes us feel proud,” Vang said. “I’m actually like, ‘Wow, we have momentum,’ because this is our fifth year getting the award. It’s really awesome.”