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Kennedy Couch working on an experiment

The complexity of Organic Chemistry often leads students to reconsider their choice of major and future career. Kennedy Couch ’24 knows that feeling all too well, but not in the way you are thinking.

“I originally planned to go into optometry, but then I got into O Chem and even Anatomy, and I thought, ‘I love this. Why not keep going for it?’ ” says Couch, who is now planning to go to medical school in the fall.

She quickly poured her heart and soul into every class and explored for more opportunities. When Dr. Suzanne Parsons, McCoy Professor of Chemistry, was looking for students to assist with undergraduate research with melanoma cells, Couch was the first one in the lab.

“My whole outlook on my future changed,” Couch says. “My aunt had melanoma, so I was interested in the topic. Then I started working with Dr. Parsons, and the experience was more than I could have imagined. Now I want to focus on dermatology or preventative care/lifestyle medicine.”

Couch was able to attend Marietta because she received a full-tuition Trustee Scholarship, and she has taken full advantage of the opportunity. For example, she helped start the Women in STEM Club, which now has more than 150 members. She is also a member of the Honors Program and a McDonough Scholar.

And for good measure, she was the Homecoming Queen this fall.

“I have loved my Marietta experience,” says Couch, the daughter of Danel and Jeff Couch. “I have met my lifelong friends at Marietta College. My friends and the Women in STEM group have been an amazing part of my time at Marietta.”

She also had an unforgettable experience last summer as she was selected to do undergraduate research at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

“I was attending the Women in Chemistry luncheon at the American Chemical Society Spring Conference in Indianapolis and through that opportunity, I met the scientist, Dr. Mark Schoefisch, that I interned with at UNC,” Couch says. “I worked on a project synthesizing nitric oxide-releasing ampicillin with the goal of generating a solution to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance. Additionally, I completed a cancer research project that provided me with the opportunity to build on the cell culture skills I cultivated at Marietta College. Marietta helped me make the connections and prepared me to make the most of this opportunity.”

Couch has impressed many of her professors, but none more than Dr. Kevin Pate, McCoy Professor of Chemistry.

“Although she is extremely intelligent and hard-working, one of the traits I admire most about Kennedy is her willingness and desire to challenge herself and get everything she possibly could out of her undergraduate education,” he says. “Students face plenty of temptations to take the easy way out, cut corners, and look for the path of least resistance.”

However, Couch remained focused on her goals and challenged herself at Marietta.

“Kennedy could have switched into an easier major and coasted through most of the last four years; she chose instead to complete one of the most difficult majors on campus and Honors and a Leadership minor, all while maintaining a nearly perfect GPA,” Pate explains. “She set the highest of bars for herself and modeled what it means to be a true academic. I love our students in general, but some — like Kennedy — go above and beyond the expectations we place on them, and it’s those students who are truly getting their money’s worth from their MC education!”

While supportive faculty, staff, family, and friends are important pieces to every student’s successful journey at Marietta College, generous donors are also vital in ensuring the College has the resources necessary to create a positive and effective education experience.

“By giving back, alumni help sustain our outstanding community and empower the College to deliver an enriching, transformative experience to each new generation of students,” says Dr. Josh Jacobs, Vice President for Advancement. “We hear stories like Kennedy’s all the time, and we want to continue delivering positive outcomes for years to come. The collective generosity of our alumni and donors funds scholarships, enhances academic programs, supports research, and enables activities that turn four years into a lifetime of treasured memories. Alumni gifts, no matter the size, shape each student’s journey. Your gifts today become their memories tomorrow.”