Last Word: Opportunity

Written by Tavis Reed. Photo by Carol Green. • Fall 2019 Issue

Tavis Reed is a senior double majoring in applied science (chemical engineering) and computer science with a minor in mathematics. He is president of the National Society of Black Engineers for the 2019-20 school year.

When I think about the McKelvey Undergraduate Research Scholars program, the first word that pops into my head is "opportunity." Being a McKelvey Scholar has been an amazing opportunity for me to make great strides on my path to become a researcher. When I first came to WashU, I knew that I wanted to get involved with research on campus, but I had absolutely no idea how to do so. The prospect of just going up to a professor and trying to convince them to let me join their lab as a first-year student was, quite frankly, terrifying. Fortunately, through the mentorship that I received through the McKelvey Scholars program, I was able to join a lab during my second semester. My experience in that lab helped me get an internship at Argonne National Laboratory the summer after my first year. Since then, I have had several different research experiences at different labs, both at WashU and at other universities.

As I get ready to apply to PhD programs this fall, I know that these invaluable experiences will help make me a competitive candidate. I wouldn't be in this position if it weren't for the communication, networking, general research and many other skills that I developed from being a McKelvey Scholar. That is why being a McKelvey Scholar has been one of the best opportunities that I have had during my time at WashU.

Inspired by the legacy of former Dean James M. McKelvey Sr., the McKelvey Undergraduate Research Scholars program was created in 2007 for students to work on cutting-edge research projects with faculty from engineering, medicine or the sciences. These scholars also take advantage of special programming, including both cultural and academic activities.