Alexia Perryman

Alexia Perryman

Dean's Scholar

Major: Chemistry/Biochemistry
College of Science

Why did you choose your major?

Everyone in my family is really creative and does a lot of hands-on work. Science offers a lot of both. It’s amazing how we can work to understand the world around us. When I started college, I had my heart set on becoming a forensic scientist. I wanted to ultimately combine my recently discovered love for chemistry in the context of biological systems by pursuing a career in forensic toxicology.  That’s why I decided to major in chemistry, concentration in biochemistry. My career path has changed slightly towards research oriented towards public health issues, which my major has been great preparation for.

What does receiving this particular award mean to you?

This award is more affirmation that I am on the right path. It is a reminder that the full-day study sessions and seemingly endless drawings on whiteboards are paying off. It’s also a ‘Thank You’ and a ‘We did it!’ to my family, friends, and mentors who have been so supportive of me over the years. I would not be headed to graduation without them.

Who has had the greatest influence of impact on your life? In addition, tell us about a SJSU faculty member who contributed to your academic success.

My family has constantly challenged me to better myself every day.  I’m truly grateful for that because it has made me realize I will always be a work-in-progress – I will need to continue to grow as a person and always have more to learn. There are some phenomenal faculty members at SJSU who have really shaped my academic career either through the classes they taught or the encouragement they provided. Dr. Keeler was one of the first people to offer those words of encouragement and helped me to reach for success I had once not envisioned for myself. I also am grateful for all of the biochemistry professors especially my research mentor, Dr. Alberto A. Rascón Jr. Dr. Rascón and other mentors like Dr. Leslee Parr and Dr. Karen Singmaster have been key to my success as a minority in science. I would have never considered continuing to a PhD program after graduation or thought I would be confident enough to pursue a career in science without them. Countless times, Dr. Singmaster has asked the leading the question, “Have you considered....” that has led me to the many the opportunities I have been able to participate in to advance my scientific career. I hope to give back even a portion of everything all of these people have done for me and others. Any success is truly a reflection of their investment in me.

Describe an experience that has shaped who you are today.

While I had never considered a career in science until high school, I had an interest in science because of the after school programs I had participated in as a child. One of the programs was called Women in Technology (WIT) Club. Women who worked at IBM came to our middle school to teach us about different STEM concepts. During the summer, we got to attendEXploring Interests in Technology and Engineering (EXITE) camp to learn about many STEM disciplines. All of our mentors from that program were so encouraging.   I am truly thankful to have had that experience because I’m not sure if I would have found my interest in science again without it.

What would you say to other students to encourage or inspire them to attain academic excellence?

I am very shy and it was often intimidating to ask for help from a professor by myself. Forming study groups with my friends and realizing it was okay to ask for help have been huge contributions to my success.  What came out of these study groups and talking with professors was a deeper understanding of the concepts through what wasn’t always conventional methods. One of my friends and I made up stories about hormones to learn how they regulate physiological responses for biology. For another class, a couple of my friends and I compared human dating interactions to protein-protein and protein-DNA interactions to understand what is going on. Learning can be fun even when it gets difficult (Thanks Dr. Pollom, Quan, Saira, Arlette, Mirela and many others along the way!) Ultimately, you are the one who is responsible for understanding the concepts at the end of the day and it is okay if you need to use a different approach to understand the same concepts. 

What makes you a Spartan?

My time at SJSU has been enriched by being a part of student organizations on campus. I was able to form great friendships and support system through Biodiversity Club, Forensic Science Students and the Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society that have allowed me to not only succeed, but also teach others along the way in science outreach programs. Being a part of the larger SJSU community by volunteering with local community organizations like CommUniverCity and being involved on campus are what makes me a Spartan.


Nominated by Karen Singmaster

"She has done well in classes, is research active and has been very active in multiple clubs including the Student Chemistry Club. She graduates this May."