Student Advising Leaders

Maddy Chalifoux

Major: Chemical Engineering and French

Class: Senior

Home town: Champaign, IL (yes, I am a “townie”)

My favorite part about Illinois: I love the diversity of our campus! Being a student at UIUC, we get the opportunity to interact with peers and professors from all over the world on a daily basis. I love talking with other students from around the country and around the world, and learning about their cultures and lifestyles. In part due to this diverse student body, we also have so many organizations on campus that we are able to join!

Favorite part of my major: My favorite thing about Chemical Engineering is that there are so many possible career paths and areas of study. For this reason, there are so many opportunities for me once I graduate and this allows me to choose something that really interests me. Also, although the curriculum is very challenging, I find it incredibly rewarding to look back at all that I have accomplished so far.

Interests/Hobbies: Running, biking, swimming, hiking, yoga, traveling, experiencing other cultures, trying new foods, reading, being creative, meeting new people

Clubs and Activities: Illinois Triathlon Club, Intramural soccer, Theta Tau Professional Engineering Fraternity, Undergraduate research, Illinois Study Abroad, Yoga Institute of CU

Future Plans: I plan on applying to grad schools in addition to several jobs and seeing what kind of opportunities present themselves!

Alayna Johnson

Major: Specialized Chemistry

Year In School: Junior

Favorite part of Illinois: When I first started school here, I was really concerned that I wouldn't find people to connect with, but I was pleasantly surprised to find so many friends just as passionate about learning and science as I am, which has become my favorite part of school. I also really enjoy that the university is big enough that it can provide something for everyone.

Favorite part of your major: My favorite part of chemistry is combining tiny molecular pieces into something that has the potential to impact the world. Studying chemistry reminds me a lot of playing with a dollhouse. The atoms, molecules, and compounds we work with are the figurines and we, the scientists, get to be the puppet masters and maneuver these tiny “dolls” into chemically useful species using creative and novel methods. 

Interests/hobbies: Crocheting, painting, animal activism, and spending time at church.

Clubs and Activities: I'm involved with the Society of Women Engineers and the Office of Undergraduate Research Ambassadors program. I enjoy volunteering at Robeson Elementary School and researching in a materials chemistry lab here on campus.  

Future plans: I am working toward a BS in chemistry with minors in materials science and physics in order to prepare for graduate studies in materials chemistry with the eventual goal of professing and researching at the university level. I am particularly interested in optimizing materials used in industrial processes in order to reduce the environmental harm of such processes. 

Kamakshi Katwala

Major: Chemistry

Year in School: Junior

Favorite part of Illinois: I love all the amazing opportunities we have as students at the University of Illinois. From diverse RSOs to endless research, there's always a way to be involved in the university and make sure you're creating the best experience for yourself. I have had some amazing experiences from traveling to Nicaragua for medical services to even being able to mentor and teach younger students in chemistry, which is definitely due to the amazing resources that the University of Illinois offers. Additionally, I love all the people I have met since arriving to UIUC and have formed some great relationships during my time here. 

Favorite part of Chemistry: Chemistry is such a broad topic and encompasses a large majority of everything we do every day. I enjoy learning about how chemistry affects our body's processes, and a lot of my classes have been catered towards chemistry of the body. One of the best things about the Chemistry program at UIUC is the large number of courses taught in the department. You can take a course on Organic Chemistry but you can also take courses on Drug Development, Quantum Mechanics, and even Spectroscopy, allowing you to get exactly what you want from your time here.

Interests/Hobbies:I enjoy working out, singing, playing tennis, traveling, teaching, cooking, napping, Netflix, and meeting new people!

Clubs and Activities:Alpha Epsilon Delta pre-health fraternity, Global Medical Training, Undergraduate Research, Organic Chemistry Teaching Assistant, volunteering

Future Plans: I will be graduating in Spring of 2020, after which I would like to go to Medical School. I plan on specializing in Anesthesiology. 

Nick Kaufmann

Major Chemical Engineering

Year in School Senior

Favorite Part of Illinois My favorite part about the University of Illinois is how diverse the campus is ethically. I grew up in a small town of about 1700 people, and close to 100% of the population is white, but UIUC has such a diverse student body that it gives me an opportunity to learn about different cultures in a way that I would have never been able to if I didn't attend this university. I transferred to UIUC from a much smaller college, and at first the 40,000 students that attend UIUC was a little bit overwhelming, but I quickly saw that the very large majority of people here are welcoming of all kinds of different backgrounds, and that I could fit in with anyone from anywhere in the world. I have been able to meet people from all around the world and share ideas with them, and I believe that is something that has truly helped me grow as a person.

Favorite part of your major My favorite part about chemical engineering is the broadness of knowledge that you learn throughout your studies. Mechanics and chemistry do not sound like they would go hand in hand at first, but they truly come together in a magnificent way. I always struggled to answer the question, "so what exactly do chemical engineers study/do?". And I always had difficulties answering this question because we learn so much and such a broad spectrum of topics. Finally, I came up with the simple answer of "chemical engineers know enough about mechanics to confuse a chemist, and know enough about chemistry to confuse a mechanic."

Interests/hobbies playing basketball, playing tennis, cooking, Illinois athletics, Chicago Cubs baseball

Club and Activities Alche, American Chemical Society

Future Plans I will graduate in the fall of 2019 (since i am a transfer student), and after this I would like to get a job in industry. I have not completely narrowed down which field interests me most, but I am hoping to discover exactly which field I wish to be involved in within the next few semesters. I would like to get my MBA after a few years in industry as an engineer, and then work my way into the business world.

Jun Hyup Og

Major: Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Year: Senior

Hometown: Born in Seoul, Korea but lived in New Jersey/New York since 2005.

Favorite Part of the University of Illinois: I enjoy the opportunity to take non-major related courses such as general education classes since through these courses, I get to meet new people who are not in my major. For instance, one of my best friends is in Psychology and Philosophy major and I met her through a statistic course! Now, I get to enjoy a relaxing and a deep conversation with her when we have no exams or assignments to prepare for. Also, I've come to love the libraries on the campuses because of their beautiful layouts and scenic views (especially the ACES library).

Favorite Part of Major: I thoroughly enjoy the research opportunity the University has to offer and how I can learn more in-depth about chemistry or engineering through these research positions. Classes allow me to build a wonderful relationship with my professors and fellow students, but research really tests my knowledge and my love for chemistry and pursuit of science. 

Interests/Hobbies: I am a HUGE fan of exercise. I used to be 250 pounds (113 Kg) and was able to slim down to 130 pounds! I try my best to keep myself healthy by going to the gym or cooking healthy meals. 

Clubs and Activities: I am in Alpha Chi Sigma Professional Chemistry Fraternity and Undergraduate Research.

Future Plan: I plan to pursue higher education with the advice of my professors and advisors.