Researcher, Traveler, Equestrian: Amanda Metell ’17

May 11, 2017


Student Amanda MetellAmanda Metell '17 has taken advantage of everything Randolph-Macon College offers during her four years in Ashland. Metell, a chemistry and history major from Plymouth, Massachusetts, conducted research, studied abroad and competed on the equestrian team. Front and center to her happiness as a student, she says, are her professors.

"There are so many great things about being a Yellow Jacket," says Metell, the recipient of a Presidential Scholarship and Jackson Fellowship for Chemistry. "If I had to pick the best thing about life at R-MC, I'd say it's my outstanding professors. Faculty work hard to give students a great education. I am so proud to tell people that I go to Randolph-Macon!"

Getting the Edge
The Edge, R-MC's four-year career program that provides students with a competitive advantage when applying for jobs or graduate school, has been a vital resource for Metell.

"Originally, I was on a pre-medicine track, and when I realized that I no longer wanted to pursue that, Josh Quinn (associate director of professional development and medical careers for The Edge) was there to help point me in the direction of graduate school," says Metell. "Josh helped me update my résumé and sift through graduate-school applications." Metell, who was accepted to several graduate schools, all with full funding, will pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of Virginia.

Research + Mentorship
Conducting research at R-MC gave Metell hands-on experience in the lab—and it made her a competitive applicant for graduate school. She participated in two Schapiro Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) projects. SURF offers students the opportunity to conduct 10 weeks of full-time, original research during the summer months, under the guidance of a faculty mentor.

Working under the mentorship of Chemistry Professor John Thoburn, Metell worked on synthesizing water-soluble cubic porphyrin-based metallocomplexes by using synthetic organic methodology.

"When I realized how much more experience I had than other graduate-school applicants, I felt so privileged to go to a college where I can conduct research with state-of-the-art instrumentation," says Metell. "Working with Professor Thoburn was an eye-opening experience. I was able to see how research is conducted at the graduate and employer level, which helped fuel my interest in pursuing chemistry in graduate school and as a career."

Sharpening Bright Minds
Thoburn says, "Working with Amanda has been absolutely great. She has made great progress largely through her own initiative and hard work." Thoburn's research program at R-MC is student-centered. "The goal is to develop original, publishable research projects that can be carried out by our students," he continues. "The projects teach a different aspect of chemistry: that which is not yet known. There is no better tool for sharpening bright young minds than the challenges brought on by original research projects. It leaves them well prepared for their next endeavor in life—and it is fun."

Travel Time
R-MC offers students the opportunity to expand their horizons through study-travel experiences, and in 2016 Metell spent a semester at Wroxton College in Oxfordshire, England. She took five courses at Wroxton and lived in a 17th-century manor house nestled on the picturesque campus.

"I can easily say that was the best three months of my life," says Metell, who recommends that every college student take advantage of study-travel opportunities. "Living and studying abroad really deepens your perspective of the world."

Campus Life
Metell, a member of R-MC's equestrian team, competes in the walk/trot/canter division in Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) shows.

"I've always loved horses," she says, "and being a member of the team really enhanced my college experience because of our coach, Dana Lesesne, and our trainers. Our equestrian program caters to all riding abilities and needs, so students don't have to give up this passion once they start college."

Metell also serves as president of the R-MC chapter of the American Chemical Society. The group, under the direction of Chemistry Professor April Marchetti '97, meets several times a semester for chemistry-related activities, including seminars on careers and graduate schools. Metell, a member of several honors societies, is currently chartering a new chapter of Phi Lambda Upsilon, a chemistry honor society.