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Alumni Receive Top Honors at Trinity College

Jonathan Fan ’18 and Daniel Nesbitt '18 have recently been named President’s Fellows at Trinity College. According to an announcement on Trinity’s website, this year’s cohort is a diverse group of 32 scholars, each of whom has compiled an exemplary academic record. Below is a Q&A with these two amazing alumni.

What does this accomplishment mean to you?
Jonathan Fan:
This award is given to the most accomplished student in the major and I feel absolutely humbled to have received this honor. This award recognizes my accomplishment in both academics and contribution to the department, both in service and in scientific research, for the past four years and I feel like my hard work these past years has been acknowledged by the Trinity community.
Daniel Nesbitt: It’s a perfect culmination of my four years of hard work at Trinity. The President’s Fellows were chosen by the chemistry department faculty so it was really fulfilling to know that my professors regard highly of me.

What is your major at Trinity?
JF: Biochemistry.
DN: I’m a double major in chemistry and public policy & law.

What kind of career do you hope to pursue after college?
JF: After college, I plan on conducting independent research in the field of chemical biology, either as a tenured professor or a scientist at a pharmaceutical company.
DN: After I graduate from Trinity I will attend the University of Wisconsin–Madison to pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry. After that, I will probably try to work in the industry but I will also consider going into academia in some capacity. I haven’t ruled anything out yet.

Is there anything else you've accomplished since high school graduation that you are proud of?
I have published a peer-reviewed article in the journal Analytical Methods. I have received many institutional academic awards such as Vernon K. Krieble Memorial Scholar, American Chemical Society Award in Analytical Chemistry, Dean’s Scholar Class of 2022, and the Lisa P. Nestor Chemical Rubber Company Awards. I have also received research awards such as the Eastern Analytical Symposium Undergraduate Student Research Award. I have also had the honor to present my research at various symposiums such as the Eastern Analytical Symposium and the Connecticut Valley Section of the American Chemical Society meeting. I will also be continuing my education at the Ph.D. program at Northwestern University.
DN:  I’m co-editor-in-chief of Trinity’s only student newspaper, The Trinity Tripod. I was also fortunate enough to contribute to two Covid-related scientific publications through my work at the New York Blood Center, with credits as a co-first author for both studies which were published in the journals PLOS ONE and BMC Infectious Diseases. I have also received institutional academic awards including the Peter J. Schaefer Memorial Prize in Economics, the ACS undergraduate award for Inorganic Chemistry, and the Lisa P. Nestor Award for Excellence in General Chemistry. In addition, I was named a Dean’s Scholar for the Class of 2022 (awarded to the top 20 students in graduating class by GPA).

How do you feel Country Day prepared you for college and this path you're on?
The summer of my junior year in high school, I was fortunate enough to shadow a Ph.D. student at the University of Cincinnati who was doing organic synthesis research. That was my first exposure to conducting research and discovering knowledge through research. Ever since then, I knew I wanted to do the same and contribute to the overall good of the scientific process as a scientist.
DN: I think the most important skill I learned at Country Day was the ability to connect and build relationships with my professors outside of class. A lot of my peers at Trinity were reluctant to meet or speak with professors beyond class time but because I had the experience of fostering great relationships with my teachers at Country Day, I was able to easily connect with my professors. Because of these connections, I had great mentorship and support at college. My relationships with my professors also opened up increased professional opportunities.

What advice do you have for current Country Day students, whether or not they're pursuing the same field as you?
JF:  My advice would be to explore your interest and utilize the great resources provided by the teachers and the alumni of country day.
DN: Where you get your undergraduate degree won’t really matter too much in the grand scheme of things; what really matters is what you do in undergraduate. I really do think that wherever you go to school, if you do well academically and actively participate in extracurriculars, you’ll be able to find professional success in whatever field you choose. Country Day really did prepare us well in that way.

What was your favorite thing about your Country Day experience?
JF: My favorite thing was the close-knit community and how friendly the teachers are at Country Day. My experience at Country Day highly influenced my college decision process. While applying for colleges, I was also looking at small colleges that would allow me to build relationships with peers and professors.
DN: It’s hard to narrow it down to just one thing. I guess if I had to choose, I’d pick taking AP chemistry with Mrs. Butler during my junior year. Mrs. Butler was a phenomenal chemistry teacher and her class really made me realize that I wanted to pursue chemistry professionally.