ACS Scholars Program Made Me a Better Chemist

Although science was part of her daily life on the dairy farm she grew up on in Checotah, Okla., Amy K. Paris didn’t consider a career in the field until her brother, John, studied chemical engineering in college and became a member of the first class of ACS Scholars in 1995.

“I always looked up to him as my older brother,” Amy says, “so watching him go through the Scholars Program and seeing what he was learning and how happy he was made an impression on me.” Amy also earned scholarships through the program, which helped her earn a degree in chemical engineering at the University of Arkansas. “Being an ACS Scholar made a huge difference in my education and my career,” says Amy.

The program also provided a mentor for her, Col. William A. Meyers, a professor in the chemical engineering department at the university. “Coming from a small school, it was great to have someone to talk to, help plan my course load and provide direction for my future.” Another benefit of the Scholars Program was the chance to network with other scholars and those in the industry at ACS national meetings.

Not Forgetting Who Helped Her

Discovering a passion for chemical process safety, Amy remained at the University of Arkansas to complete her Ph.D. in engineering and then secured a position at Eastman Chemical Company. Today she is a senior chemical engineer at Eastman in Tennessee, where she enjoys hands-on work in development.

Having achieved success in her ideal job, Amy is determined not to forget those who helped her get where she is today, and she is committed to educating minority students about their options in chemistry. She has spoken at national meetings of the American Chemical Society and the American Indian Science and Engineering Society and has agreed to serve as a mentor for future ACS Scholars.

“The Scholars Program gives people who are underrepresented in chemical engineering and other sciences opportunities they might not even know they have,” says Amy, who is of Cherokee descent. Grateful to the donors who made her scholarships possible, Amy stresses that gifts to the ACS Scholars Program are more important now than ever. “Being in the program motivates you to work harder, study more and get better grades, so it turns out better chemists, which is better for the industry. If donors pull back now, they pull back for the long term.

Amy Paris is one of nearly 3,000 ACS Scholars who have been awarded mentoring, financial support and internship opportunities since the program’s inception in 1994. Scholarships range from $2,500 for freshmen to $5,000 for seniors. Donors may contribute all or part of a single scholarship; pledge a renewable scholarship; or sponsor several ACS Scholars.

ACS is designated as a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Your donation is tax deductible. Our Federal Tax ID Number is 53-0196572.

ACS Scholar Amy Paris
ACS Scholar Amy Paris working at Eastman Chemical Company.
Credit: Eastman Chemical

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