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Student Profile: Allison Zank

Allison Zank

  • Chemistry Major
  • Transfer Student from MCTC
  • McNair Scholar
  • Goldwater Scholar
  • NSF Grant Recipient Industry Ambassador
  • AugSTEM Scholar
  • President of the Augsburg Chemistry Society
  • URGO Researcher
  • Transfer Regents Award Recipient
  • Carl Rogne Scholarship Recipient
  • Campus Ministries Scholarship Recipient

Allison Zank is currently doing work in research and development fabricating nanomaterials with electrochemistry.

What brought you to Augsburg?
I knew about Augsburg’s reputation as a school that is really diverse and open-minded. I liked their mission and their service to the community, so I chose to go to Augsburg. I’m really glad that I did.

What advice would you give a new student at Augsburg?
Work hard. Stay open-minded. This is your one chance to achieve what you really dream of doing, so try. And if you struggle, ask for help, because you’d be surprised at how many people are willing to help you with just about anything if you’re honest with them.

What experiences at Augsburg have prepared you most for life after college?
Augsburg structured my education so I would explore all of my options and try several disciplines, and the chemistry department and URGO office told me what I needed to do to achieve my goals. At larger institutions, there are so many people that it’s easier to get lost in the shuffle. That simply can’t happen as easily in a small institution like Augsburg.

What challenges did you face during your academic career?
Because I was homeless as a teenager, I never received a high school education. My classmates in college had already had a preview into chemistry, biology, and math, but I had none. To succeed I had to learn a lot of the basics that most people knew already while keeping up with the class material. That was really difficult. But, this prepared me for upper division classes where I had to learn everything fresh.

What do you value most about the academic community at Augsburg?
There’s prejudice in academia that you don’t experience at Augsburg. There’s ageism and sexism in the sciences. I think it’s important to not let that hold you back and to realize that that’s coming from just one place or person. My pre-calculus professor told me that Augsburg was lucky to have me and that I should keep that attitude. If a school doesn’t appreciate you, then it’s not a good fit and you need to keep looking for the right place.

What surprised you most about your time at Augsburg?
Campus Ministry is powerful and they really care about students’ welfare. There was a time when I had become so distressed by my class load that I withdrew from school. Soon after, I ran into the campus pastor and he asked me how I was doing and I told him that I withdrew. He made a few phone calls and told me just to finish out the year with my math classes. He wouldn’t let me drop out and I got through that semester with his help.