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Thursday, December 17, 1998

Chemistry Major, Brian Sydnor Gives Student Commencement Address

SALISBURY, MD--For Brian K. Sydnor, the Frank Sinatra rendition of the classic "My Way" has a special meaning. Sydnor, who is this year's student speaker at Salisbury State University's winter commencement, has not always been considered an ideal scholar.

"I was a below average student in high school," said the 23-year-old graduate of Chopticon in Morganza, MD. "I didn't know if I would slide through college. Even in sports, I was never really the best. I was a solid player, but not the go-to person."

When he looks back over the last few years, "sometimes my decisions seemed irrational." Take his major, chemistry, for instance. While a student at Charles County Community College, he took a chemistry course and liked it. But when he transferred to SSU, he decided to major in psychology, because he wanted to become a doctor. On a whim he took another chemistry course at SSU and did well "with hardly studying."

He took more chemistry. "The harder the classes got, the better I seemed to do," he said.

By the middle of his junior year, the student who once thought about sliding through college knew he wanted to major in chemistry. "Everybody said I was crazy to do four years of chemistry in 2.5." Yet heÍs graduating with a 3.8 grade point average in his major, won an American Chemical Society Award, served as a student moderator at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research and received a Henson Scholarship.

At Salisbury State he also served as a resident assistant for two years including the Residence Hall Council, was a member of the student Chemical Society and was inducted into Psi Chi, the psychology honor society.

"That is the message of my speech," he said. "We can choose whatever we want to be."

Ironically, Sydnor, who thought of himself as below average high school, will be graduating with mostly A's on his college academic record. But his failures, he thinks, are what led to his success. He wasnÍt afraid to explore, and learn from those experiences.

He is still planning to apply to medical school, but first he plans to take a year off. "There are more areas in life I want to start learning about," he said.


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