American Chemical Society Continues to Be Catalyst for Student Success

Two MCCC Students Receive Scholarships from Trenton ACS 


West Windsor, N.J. – A year of remote learning during the COVID shutdown did not disrupt the learning – or giving – process in a winning partnership between the Trenton Section of the American Chemical Society (TrACS) and Mercer County Community College (MCCC). As it has done for many years, TrACS continued to reward Mercer students for diligence and achievement.

At a Zoom ceremony on June 9, TrACS awarded scholarships to two MCCC Chemistry students: Luisa Quezada, who graduated in May, and Jeanette Mieses, who will continue her studies at Mercer in the fall. The two students were selected by the Chemistry faculty based on their GPAs and the essays they submitted about their accomplishments and goals.

Quezada has much to celebrate, even after a year of shutdown. Having earned associate degrees in both Chemistry and Physics, she will transfer to Rutgers University in the fall, where she plans to complete her bachelor’s degree. She is interested in a career in laboratory research and college level teaching, and hopes to one day attend graduate school.

Quezada observes that she has always had many interests and a profound love for learning. When it came time to attend college at MCCC, she narrowed her focus to study what she loved most: math and science. Originally from Guatemala, she says her father was her main champion. “He encouraged my brother and me to learn something new, to never stop asking questions, and to always look for the answers. Because of him, I set myself the goal to come to study in the United States and get my degree,” she said.

Faculty member Helen Tanzini, MCCC’s Chemistry program coordinator, notes that Quezada was a pleasure to have in Honors Organic Chemistry 1 and 2. “Luisa’s lab reports were so good. They had real substance. She truly excelled,” Tanzini said.

Quezada acknowledges that she has faced numerous challenges along the way, but she is not deterred. “My education is not a race. The only person I can compare myself to is the person I was yesterday and if I’m just a little bit better than who I was then, I’m on a path that will surely lead me to success,” she said.

Now, with two associate degrees under her belt, Quezada is dreaming big. “I see myself as an educated woman with a job that can help others through education.”

Continuing student Jeanette Mieses is a returning adult and career changer who came to MCCC to fulfill some prerequisites and has decided to stay to earn her associate degree in Chemistry. She will take Organic Chemistry 1 this fall and Organic Chemistry 2 next spring. After seven years as a scenic artist in New York and regional theaters, Mieses observes that the shutdown of the theater industry during the pandemic was her spur to action.

“I’ve wanted for some time to start working towards a career in art conservation, something that would allow me to use my technical skills, my love of art history, and to feel like I’m maintaining something for the benefit of future generations,” Mieses said. “I knew almost immediately I could turn this time into an opportunity.”

Mieses notes that college programs in art preservation are demanding, and the chemistry requirements can be particularly daunting. “They expect candidates to be well versed not only in the visual components of art, but also possess a thorough understanding of mathematics and the chemical processes that can protect or, more importantly, degrade delicate artifacts and artworks,” she explained.

But Mieses decided to go for it at MCCC. She prepared throughout the long summer of 2020, “relearning mathematics that I hadn’t looked at in 10 years, hoping to be on par with my fellow students,” she recalled.

Her preparation paid off this past year. She found herself quickly grasping complex concepts, acing tests, working with confidence in the lab, and even serving as a resource for other students.

What began as a prerequisite has become a passion. “I delight in the elegance of chemistry,” Mieses said. “It thrills me to understand these concepts fully and how something fundamental about our world works and then seeing it in action tangibly.”

This past spring, Mieses officially declared Chemistry as her major and plans to complete her associate degree before she applies to preservation programs.

With a 4.0 GPA, Mieses is more than satisfied with her college experience thus far. “I’m quite proud of what I’ve done so far, and I am really excited at the prospect of continuing my studies in chemistry. I am grateful to the American Chemical Society for aiding me in this endeavor,” she said.

Tanzini notes that TrACS’ philanthropic initiatives with MCCC date back to 1998, when the organization began funding materials for the college’s National Chemistry Week outreach at local elementary schools.

“Outreach was one of their goals, starting with National Chemistry Week,” Tanzini said. “That has led to grants and honors research for our students, and other outreach programs like Super Science Weekend at the State Museum in Trenton. The opportunities have just kept on coming.”

TrACS was presented with MCCC’s Spirit of Education Award in 2009.


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Luisa Quezada will continue her studies in Chemistry and Physics at Rutgers University.


Jeanette Mieses

Jeanette Mieses will continue her studies in Chemistry this fall.