Meaghan Geary's road to a successful college education began with a conversation with a co-worker at a pizza shop she was managing. "She had just graduated high school and told me she was going to OCC. I didn't know anything about OCC so I started looking into it. But it wasn't until the owner made me so angry one day I decided to quit, go back to school, and do something with my life."
Geary had grown up in New Orleans. She tried college right out of high school and had a miserable experience. "I wasn't ready. I didn't understand how much it cost, and I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life."
Her parents were from the Syracuse area and she eventually followed them north. She tried college again in the fall of 2015 when she enrolled at OCC as a Mathematics & Science major. "I was ready to be a better student. I had real-life experiences. I knew if I was going to change my life it was up to me to do it. I was much more motivated."
She had always enjoyed science and decided to try as many different types as she could until she found the right fit. "Physics was 'too mathy' for me, biology was just right, and chemistry was perfect." As she was developing as a student, she was also helping others along the way. She worked at the Learning Center tutoring students in biology and algebra.
In May of 2017 Geary earned her associate degree. "It was an important milestone for me. I never walked at my high school graduation because I was a terrible student. Walking in the graduation here was just amazing. My mother and brother were there and it inspired him to come to school here. Now he's at Syracuse University."
Geary transferred to SUNY-ESF (Environmental, Science & Forestry) and earned her Biochemistry degree just two months ago. As she was wrapping up her work there she was also trying to figure out where she would go next. "I looked at SUNY schools first because I think they are awesome. I realized at Upstate I could do the research I envisioned myself doing right here at home." She applied for and was accepted in to Upstate Medical University's Ph.D. program which she expects to take five to seven years to finish.
Since earning her OCC degree three years ago, Geary has remained a regular presence on campus. She works as an embedded tutor in the Chemistry major. She sits in class, takes notes, hosts study groups for students, and tutors students at the Learning Center. She's found tutoring to be a win-win experience. Students grades improve and she gets a better handle on the coursework. "Tutoring keeps all of my basic information fresh in my head. The more I go over the material the more I have a better understanding of it."
Geary has also found herself fascinated by current events. As the world wonders how many lives will be lost to the coronavirus, she views it as a scientist and an opportunity to learn. "It's very interesting. This is a strain of a virus we haven't encountered yet. Someone is going to have to sequence that and research that. I get excited even though I understand it's not a good thing."