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Finding a home at UGA and clicking with science education

Abby McGill

March 18, 2020

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This month's amazing student is Joyce Bui, who is studying to become a high school science educator to help her future students learn tough subjects.

Major: Chemistry and science education

Other degrees: Minor in biology

Graduation: May 2020 (halfway through master's degree)

Hometown: Johns Creek, Georgia

Why did you choose to attend UGA?

I knew I wanted to stay in Georgia since I grew up here. But in high school, I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to work with and help people, but I wasn't sure how. The University of Georgia has such a wide variety of fields that it seemed perfect for me—for someone who wasn't sure yet but was trying to find a home.

What made you decide to major in your field?

I started at UGA as a psychology major, but then I worked at a summer camp and decided I really wanted to work in education. I wanted to teach. I love all subjects, but science is my favorite, so I decided to pursue science education. As a science education major, you get to choose an area of emphasis. You can choose from biology, chemistry, physics, or earth science, and I chose chemistry because I love it, and I love that it involves logic and problem-solving.

What do you do when you have free time?

I haven't had a lot of free time lately, but I love to play volleyball at Ramsey. I played volleyball in high school, and I found out that people play at Ramsey at night just for fun. There's a huge volleyball group chat, and that's where I met a majority of my friends. It's just a good way to relieve stress, and it's so much fun.

If money was not an issue for you, what would you do?

I would travel the world and eat a lot of food or play volleyball all the time. But, I also think my decision to be a teacher is kind of me not considering money because I considered going into pre-med or the healthcare field. As a chemistry major, I get a lot of "Why would you do that to yourself just to be a teacher?" and I would feel bad about myself. But I'm student teaching now, and I absolutely love it. I would teach for free since I love it so much. I know chemistry is known for being complicated and difficult, but I love when my students get it and gain a sense of pride like, "Oh, I can do chemistry!" I absolutely love that. Right now, I teach 10th grade honors chemistry.

What are your plans after graduation?

I'll be finishing my master's next year and then after that, hopefully, I'll be teaching in a high school close to home. I'm pretty close with my family, but a big reason why I want to go back to my high school is to give back. I think part of why I want to be teacher is because I had such a good experience at my high school.

What extracurricular activities are you involved in?

I play a lot of volleyball, and I volunteered at a camp with Project Safe, a nonprofit organization that deals with domestic violence. I did that for the past two years, and I would go weekly for childcare. One of my favorite things was working at a summer camp for kids, but I had to stop this past year because I tore my ACL. I had to stop and focus a lot on taking care of my health.

What is one UGA experience you will always remember?

I loved working with the Project Safe kids and helping them work through their feelings. But if I'm thinking about just UGA-specific experiences, I would say the Notre Dame football game. It really stands out to me because it was a night game. I saw the lights for the first time, and I did not expect it at all. I was with my best friends, and it was really fun.