July 13, 2024

DNS Africa Resource Center

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Navigating two degrees, research and work – University of South Carolina

Luke Reynolds is not your typical student. Earlier this month, he earned his bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering. Last year, through the accelerated master’s program, he also started his degree in chemical engineering, which he will receive this December. Given his rigorous schedule, Reynolds exemplifies effective time management by skillfully navigating the demands of academia, research and industry.
“Pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering and a master’s in chemical engineering concurrently wasn’t just about fulfilling academic requirements. It was an opportunity to optimize my educational journey, challenge myself across different disciplines, and broaden my career prospects in both fields,” Reynolds says. 
During his sophomore and junior years, balancing full-time studies with research and other commitments posed significant challenges in time management. This included an internship last summer at Zeus Industrial Products in nearby Gaston, South Carolina. Since January 2022, he has also worked part-time as a pharmacy technician at a CVS in Columbia, where he uses his biomedical engineering background to understand the medical impact of the pharmaceuticals he handles. 
“To ensure all my coursework and research responsibilities were met, I capitalized on any available time between classes, dedicating it to homework, studying or lab work. My strategy was to optimize every moment of free time in my schedule,” Reynolds says.
At Zeus Industrial Products, Reynolds showcased his ability to apply academic principles in practical settings. He led a project on bioabsorbable polymers, which are synthetic materials that can be absorbed naturally by the body and utilized in implantable medical devices. Reynolds was able to utilize his knowledge from courses in biomaterials, fluid mechanics and mass transfer.
“Luke is a team player, leveraging his skills in software tools to effectively tackle challenges and collect vital data for our collaborative projects,” says Jackson Anders, a biomedical engineering masters’ student at the College of Engineering and Computing. “His expertise has greatly strengthened tasks, ranging from arterial flow testing to artificial hip redesign and predictive modeling to ensure a seamless integration of information.”
Reynolds acknowledges that balancing school and work is his biggest challenge, yet he manages it with disciplined focus and organization. With his diverse experiences, he envisions a future of innovation and impact within the manufacturing sector. 
“In today’s world, many of the most pressing challenges we face require interdisciplinary solutions. That’s why I believe understanding both biological and chemical systems is crucial,” Reynolds says. “By integrating knowledge from multiple disciplines, we can pioneer solutions that transcend traditional boundaries and address complex problems more effectively.”
Reynolds advocates for the blending of diverse disciplines and effective time management as crucial for driving progress and innovation. His journey is not only about managing a double degree and multiple roles but also serves as a testament to the power of determination and strategic planning in achieving academic and professional success.
A passion for helping others has led Shannon DePratter to participate in several service organizations while also completing her degree in biomedical engineering in just three years. She is is one of two winners of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award—the university’s highest student honor
Acting as a bridge between students, faculty, and resources, Silke Henrich helps students navigate challences in and outside the classroom. 

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