Sophie Chance, the NC State graduate in December 2021, knows the value of being brave enough to make her dreams come true, especially when dreams change. As her last semester on campus approaches, she recalls her fondest memories of being part of the Wolfpack and her journey into poultry science.
Chance, a native of Annapolis, Maryland, came to North Carolina as a Thomas Jefferson scholar. She planned to double majoring in poultry science and communications, but along the way discovered a passion for only one of her chosen majors.
“A couple of years ago when I started doing research, and that was a focal point for me, I was like, ‘Well, I really enjoy science, so let’s follow this,'” she says. ”
After leaving the Jefferson Scholars Program to pursue science, Chance finds herself at a Food Animal Innovation symposium competing with 17 graduate students submitting posters for their research. She says winning first place in the convention was her greatest achievement as an undergraduate at NC State.
None of this would have been possible, she says, without her two teachers, Professor Robert Bexted and Professor Zhongxiao (Sean) Chen. In Bexted’s lab, Chance helped with research Chen encouraged her to present at the Food and Animal Innovation Symposium. Like other CALS professors, Beckstead and Chen took the time to get to know Chance and invested in her future success.
“Dr. Bexstead took a lot of time to guide me and helped me decide on my classes and my course after graduation.” “He helped me make important decisions throughout my college career and was just a wonderful professor who took the time to talk through different paths and where they could lead. He made the process a lot easier.”
Chen came to NC just a year ago, Chance says, and quickly became invested in the success of the students around him.
“He encouraged me to be at both the Animal Food Innovation Symposium and at the International Production and Processing Fair next February. He always has a new idea or a new opportunity and has been a great resource for me as I have been making decisions for graduate school.”
Chance says that this kind of routing was only possible with CALS.
“They give you a lot of opportunities to grow, whether it’s in a leadership position in a club or as an ambassador, where they recognize your accomplishments and know you can help mentor other students,” she says.
During her tenure, Chance was involved with many organizations, including the Poultry Science Club, Western Riding Team, CALS Honors, Campus Crusade for Christ (CRU), CALS Ambassadors, and the Future of Agriculture in America (AFA).
While Chance is nostalgic about her ending in NC, she says she hopes to be back next fall as a graduate student.
“I’ve applied to five different colleges, NC State is one of them, and I’m planning to study immunology,” she says.
Wherever she ends up, Chance plans to pursue a Ph.D. in immunology and eventually entered the animal pharmaceutical industry as a technical consultant. Returning to the world of academia is also something to think about in the future.
When asked if she had any advice for new students, she stressed the importance of building relationships with professors early on.
“I feel like there were so many times during my college career that I didn’t know what I was doing,” she says, “I didn’t know what my end goal was. That’s totally fine. Having a faculty teacher to talk to me was the most valuable thing I could experience during My university career.
Since she was brave enough to change directions in her studies and had faculty support to do so, Chance will graduate with a degree in Poultry Science and minors in Genetics and Biology. By trusting her intuition, she says she has accomplished more than she ever could have imagined.
And it all began with my first leap of faith – the choice of NC State.
“When I came to college, I fell in love with the campus. I loved everything from the faculty to the resources to even the bricks. NC State appreciated my individual accomplishments and made me feel wanted and seen as a potential student.”