Selina Ibarra

Selina Ibarra '19



Degree and Class Year

BA ’19


Montclair, California




Gente Latina Unida (GLU), Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement (IME)

Overseas study

Berlin, Germany

What three words would you use to describe L&C?

Green, Welcoming, Close-knit

Life After L&C, June 2019 Update

How did Lewis & Clark prepare you for your job? 

As a chemistry major, Lewis & Clark provided me with a critical thinking mindset, work integrity, and crucial laboratory experience that I use everyday in the lab. Given the variety of coursework that was available at a liberal arts college, I’ve learned to be able to work under pressure with the best efforts, to accept defeat if it arrives, and to always accept the help to get back up! 

What have you been doing since graduation? 

Upon graduation, I’ve travelled around California with friends from home and attended a couple of concerts, fairs, museums, and conventions along the way. I am employed as a lab technician at an environmental lab in Southern California where we examine and report irregularities in drinking water, wastewater, food and soil samples, and other state regulated sample cases. 

What are your career goals?

I would love to further my education and eventually work at a government research laboratory geared toward improving the environment. For now, I am enjoying exploring the industry field and learning about different paths people are taking!

Now that you’re out of college, what would you say is the most important thing you learned at Lewis & Clark?

Honestly, the most important thing I learned at Lewis & Clark is to try every possible path, ask all the questions you can possibly question, and not only ask, but accept the help when you need it in whatever form it may be. 

Life at L&C

What’s your favorite class? How has it expanded your knowledge?

(Sorry, I can’t choose!) My favorite class within my major is definitely Organic Chemistry with Professor Louis Kuo and Assistant Professor Casey Jones. I felt they really complemented each other by teaching the lessons they are strong in, and they both have a great sense of humor! Many science majors are intimidated by the thought of organic chemistry, but they both made it really fun and interesting! Outside of chemistry, my favorite class is Gender and Sexuality in the U.S. with Associate Professor Kim Brodkin. I really learned a lot from that class in terms of realizing how gender, sexuality, and identity are very prominent issues that play a huge role in our society. This class really opened my mind, made me challenge views that I’ve always had growing up, and helped me find and understand my identity.

What made you want to come to Lewis & Clark?

I honestly did not know I was going to go to Lewis & Clark until they flew me out through LEAD, a fly-in program for underrepresented students. I really loved the two classes that I shadowed, the friends that I had made during the program, and really saw myself attending L&C for the next four years after that. The financial aid package also definitely helped in the decision process as well!

How did you choose your overseas program? What did your time in Berlin add to your L&C experience?

I knew from the start of my college career that I wanted to study abroad, but I didn’t know where I would actually end up. After I attended a science overseas event, I found out that it can be difficult to study abroad as a STEM major, but then I learned about the Berlin, Germany, program that is geared toward chemistry majors. My time in Berlin was absolutely incredible and I would never trade that experience for anything else! I had never traveled outside the U.S. for that long before, and I’m really glad L&C gave me the opportunity to not only travel to Berlin, but also the Netherlands, Belgium, and many other parts of Germany. Being on that program really opened up my global mindset, and I learned about all sorts of cultural exchanges, traditions, historical aspects, and world views. Studying abroad not only enriched my time here at L&C, but it also made me realize that I am capable of truly being independent and also trusting my intuition when it comes to directions!

Have you had the opportunity to do research with a professor? If so, please describe the project and the experience.

I had the great opportunity to work with Associate Professor Anne Bentley in her lab on a project that deals with the interaction of gold and silver nanoparticles in aqueous environments. I began research with Professor Bentley through the John S. Rogers Science program and I expected it to be just like another science lab course, but I found it was definitely not! It was actually a lot of fun applying lessons from class and expanding that into solving a real-world problem of how these nanoparticles will behave in natural water systems. Throughout the summer and continuing into the academic year, I got to use high-tech instruments both on and off campus, as well as really cool lab setups for synthesis! It can be very challenging at times and can get frustrating when it seems that all options are gone, but that is all part of the research experience and I look forward to future work on this project!