My first day as a teaching assistant in the chemistry lab was absolutely terrifying, but I got into the rhythm of teaching and found that it was my favorite part of the day.”

Rachel’s Story

Rachel Verbois grew up in Baton Rouge, La., graduating from Baton Rouge Magnet High School as one of seven National Merit Finalists. She enjoyed all fields of study but was most influenced by her high school physics teacher. “She set up labs that seemed to violate natural law and our own intuition.” Inspired by the way the teacher related physics to sports, Rachel and her classmates began explaining parabolic motion to bystanders at football and soccer games.

Rachel was not sure which degree to pursue at Louisiana State University, so she remained undecided until her sophomore year when chemistry drew her attention. Her father and grandfather were both chemical engineers.  Rachel found it fascinating to analyze and predict chemical reactions.  By junior year, she began working as a teaching assistant in the chemistry lab where initial challenges turned into full enjoyment. “It seems I’ve always wanted to be a teacher.”  Rachel received the Superiority in Performance and Productivity in Teaching Chemistry 1212 Award and was named a Tri-Delta Favorite Professor as an undergraduate.

Rachel earned her master’s degree in teaching from the University of Virginia and began teaching at Western Albermarle High School in 2006.  “I want to play an influential role among young people as they consider future fields of study and career, just as my high school physics teacher did for me.”