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Alyssa (Bienvenu) Santos

Q&A: Penn State chemistry graduate student Alyssa (Bienvenu) Santos

31 July 2023

Alyssa (Bienvenu) Santos, who recently graduated with a Ph.D. in chemistry from Penn State, worked on the Eberly College of Science graduate student newsletter during her graduate school career – we asked some questions about her experience as a graduate student at Penn State.

Q: What is the best piece of advice you received during grad school?

AS: Make time for coffee breaks. There will always be more to do—research, teaching, writing, mentoring, job hunting. It was there today, and it will be there 15 minutes later after taking a moment to have a nice cup of coffee, perhaps with a friend. Those 15 minutes are often better spent taking a moment to step away than staring at the list.

Q: What is your favorite spot in State College?

Sower’s Harvest. I am obsessed with their coffee and soft pretzels.

Q: Advice for incoming graduate students?

AS: Rotate through multiple groups if given the opportunity! Even if you love the research or the group members or the PI, rotating through different groups is great for giving perspective about the research happening in the department. If your program does not have rotations, get out of your comfort zone, and talk to faculty and older grad students about what cool research is happening elsewhere in the department.

Q: What’s next for you?

AS: I am starting a postdoc at St. Bonaventure University that is half research, half teaching.

Q: How long you’ve been working on the newsletter?

AS: I started with the newsletter in Spring 2020.

Q: What is your favorite experience working on the newsletter?

AS: I loved working with grad students from other departments. Chemistry is a big department, and it is easy to stay in that bubble. Working on the newsletter gave me connections outside of chemistry with students, faculty, and staff who enriched my time as a grad student.