“Without the Veteran’s Center and PRISM, I don’t think I would be attending NYU’s Ph.D. chemistry program in the fall,” says Kevin Torres ’22, a forensic science major who recently received the Alexander Joseph Memorial Award. “Now, I can continue my exploration of material science.”
What was your experience in the U.S. Marines like?
I was an infantryman and also security forces. I remember being in training and it was 110 degrees. I was the only one who had half a canteen of water left. We made that water last and finished the mission. My time in the Marines showed me how to lead and make sure that the team doesn’t lose hope. It was a brotherhood.
What was your experience with PRISM like?
When I came to John Jay, “Dr. E” (Edgardo Sanabria-Valentín, Ph.D., PRISM Associate Program Director) was one of the first people I met. I talked to Dr. E about this scientific idea I wanted to study and the way he responded was really supportive. After joining PRISM, things just skyrocketed. I went to the American Chemical Society Conference, conducted computational chemistry work, participated in the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduate’s program, and even did a literature review with Dr. Zhang. Recently, I worked with Dr. Carpi doing research on mercury chloride and its effect on soil. Dr. Carpi, Dr. E, and Dr. Sanguineti were a huge help with the graduate school process. They showed me how to structure my application, wrote me letters of recommendation, and helped me narrow it down to NYU.
What type of research do you hope to conduct at graduate school?
I’m fascinated by material science, which is basically exploring the way materials behave, trying to develop new materials. It allows us to tweak what we have now and make current materials more environmentally friendly. At NYU, I want to research methodological developments that could allow us to build better materials in a way that’s more respectful to our planet.
How did your family react to your grad school acceptance?
They’re excited. My brother and I are the first people in my family to attend college. My parents are from Ecuador. My mom stopped going to school after the first grade. My dad wasn’t able to complete high school. My success isn’t just because of my own efforts; it’s also the result of my parents’ hard work and sacrifices.