CAS Corps Feature: Abby Bennett

The CAS Corps are chosen to serve as representatives to all constituents of the College of Arts and Sciences and to create, promote and execute opportunities for academic and professional growth. These students represent a variety of departments from across the College of Arts and Sciences and will represent the College at events through interaction among current students, future students, parents, donors and alumni.

Each month we will be introducing one of our ten students representing the college in the 2021-22 academic year through a question and answer format. This month, meet Tanner and learn about his experiences. For more about the CAS Corps, visit:

CAS Corps Feature: Abby Bennett

Majoring in Chemistry
From Charlotte, N.C.

What clubs or organizations are you a member of?
The Honors College, Honors Vanguard and Honors Peer Mentoring.

Sports or hobbies?
Hiking, backpacking, skiing and baking are some activities that I love to do. I also enjoy a good nap!

Scholarship(s) you have received from Appalachian or while studying at Appalachian?
A.R. Smith Scholarship, Honors College International Education Scholarship.

Location(s) you completed a study abroad or study away.
South Korea, however, the program was cut short because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Location(s)/lab(s) you conducted research.
Dr. Jennifer Cecile's Lab within the Department of Chemistry.

Location(s) you hope to go for an internship, study abroad or research experience.
I would like to intern with N.C. Extension in the Family and Consumer Sciences department that focuses on recipe development. 

Research or coursework you have been most passionate about?
I really enjoyed my food science course within the Department of Nutrition, which focused on food safety, culinary techniques and recipe preparation. I enjoyed how hands-on the course was and how it incorporated chemistry concepts into everyday food preparation!

What was the biggest challenge for you as a college student during the pandemic?
Finding a work-life balance! It was really difficult to focus when my desk and bed were in the same room, because I was always tempted to nap or work very late! It is something that I am still working on, but it's getting there!

What has given you peace, relaxation or been your outlet over the summer?
I worked at a backpacking camp this summer and being in the mountains with limited cell coverage was great for me to recharge and realize the importance of staying in the moment instead of worrying about what's coming up next. Backpacking also helped me to take time for myself, something that I hope can transition back into this next semester.  

What has been the book, podcast and/or tv show you found rewarding or enjoyed over the summer?
I am obsessed with any type of food/cooking show, so Taste the Nation on Hulu has been wonderful to watch!

What is one goal you have set for yourself this coming year?
This year I would love to learn how to snowboard!

What is one of your favorite memories at Appalachian thus far?
Sledding! And making snow cream with my hall mates! Snow days are so much fun on campus, but make sure that you wear layers!

What do you like about Boone and the surrounding community?
One of the reasons I came to Appalachian was to be close to the mountains so that I could hike, backpack and ski! I love how you could find a new trail or outdoor activity to do almost every weekend, and I think that has helped me to get out of my room during the pandemic. Boone also has a strong sense of place that helps you feel connected within the local community, especially through the farmer's markets, festivals and more ways to support local businesses! 

What do you feel has been valuable in your education at Appalachian versus another institution?
I love how Appalachian actively focuses on providing quality educational experiences to its students, specifically through faculty- student interactions, study abroad programs and research opportunities. The professors and staff members that you interact with genuinely care about your well-being and often go out of their way to help you succeed and feel like you are an important part of the university.

The study abroad office at Appalachian, as well as the Honors College, do a wonderful job of working with students to find an international program that fits your academic and personal goals. Study abroad programs are great for self-exploration, and Appalachian realizes the importance of that in your college experience. Undergraduate research is another fantastic opportunity that is widely available across departments, and those projects help you to succeed and gain experience in your field, something that isn't always available at larger universities.

Tell us about one faculty member that has made an impact on your life and how.
Dr. Cecile, my research mentor, has helped me to become more confident in myself. Throughout our time spent together, she has taught me so much about educational and scientific writing, instrumentation and researching and designing experiments. Dr. Cecile also made me realize the importance of trying to find balance between school, work and time for myself and my family. It is also very impactful to have a female mentor within STEM for life and career advice. Dr. Cecile has shown me what a good mentor should be like, and so I hope that as I advance in a career I can hopefully be a mentor with similar qualities to some of my newer coworkers. 

Tell us about one other connection you have made while at Appalachian - a friendship, mentor, colleague, a new found hobby or interest?
I met one of my best friends, Elaine, through a mutual bond over stress baking at freshman orientation! She is someone that I can always go to for support and she helps me to take time for myself. She's also always down for a picnic or a hike!

What is your favorite place on campus and why?
I enjoy Durham Park because I can picnic or work on homework by the creek and feel like I am away from some of the action on campus. 

What is your understanding of "sustainability" after being at Appalachian?
Appalachian has taught me that there are so many actions that you can make to become more sustainable. One of my courses had a unit on food waste and ways that we as a community could be more sustainable through feasible actions and goals. That helped to show me how people and policy can create a more sustainable food system through something as widespread as food choice, but also how those actions take time to fully be implemented. 

What do you hope to do after graduation?
After graduation, I plan on looking for entry level food science or food chemistry positions, and then figure out what would be the best concentration for a future master's program in the field. I would love to find an opportunity close to mountains so that I can still ski and hike, but I'm trying to keep my options open!

What is your dream job?
I would love to work for a culinary publication like Cook's Illustrated or America's Test Kitchen as a food chemistry researcher.

Abby Bennet, member of CAS Corps. Photo submitted.
Published: May 4, 2022 11:11am