Miami - A Good Decision: Video Transcript

Jamie L. Cohen (BS Chemistry, Miami, 2002) [R&D Director and Chemist, Dow Chemical Company's Electronic Materials Business Group]: I grew up in a very small town in Ohio, and both of my parents are in business, and I had decided that I was going to stray and go off into chemistry. It had really interesting problems that I had to solve, it opened up a lot of knowledge about the world, and the laboratory, the hands-on aspects were really interesting.

I think really coming to Miami of Ohio and understanding that there were opportunities to work in the lab straightaway and that I knew that that lab work was what was most enjoyable for me gave me the opportunity to quickly see if this was going to be the major for me. I started doing undergraduate research my first year here, and after that I knew that I was going to work in a lab in chemistry, and I actually knew I was going to go to graduate school.

I spent a lot of time in the sciences, a lot of time in chemistry, a lot of time in math. Very analytical-oriented, data-driven, and then I actually got to go to other classes that I wasn't very comfortable in, like psychology, and I took a German literature course, I took language courses. These use skills that I had not gotten comfortable with and certainly were kind of a mental break from the physical chemistry classes or the physics classes. It wasn't that they were easier; it was just that they got to use a different part of my brain. I think the liberal arts education made me a lot more creative; it forced me out of my comfort zone. It's the other more subtle aspects of having the Miami experience, even including the teamwork and the collaboration that you have or the relationships that you're forming as you're going through a liberal arts education really do help you with the intangible aspects of a future career.

I have always focused on the job that I am doing today, and I try to do that job really well, like it's the last job I'm ever going to have. When I did that about two or three years ago, when I really focused on doing great science in the lab, I got the opportunity to move into the corporate sector to be the strategy leader for the chief technology officer at Dow. But for now, I'm really just trying to add a bunch of tools or skills to my toolbox and hope that that hard work is going to move me in the right direction or open up doors that I didn't even know existed.

I often think back to the transition to Miami, and I think about what a good decision that was. What I found at the end of that transition was the education, the environment, the new things that I didn't know about before, and that really helps me going through other changes in my life.

[October 2015]