It took CU chemical engineering student Candace Vaughn a little bit longer to graduate than some of her classmates, but she graduated last spring with a wealth of on-the-job experience.
Candace alternated semesters taking classes with semesters working at Roche Colorado, a Boulder pharmaceutical company. As part of the chemical and biological engineering department’s Cooperative Education Program, she gained paid professional experience while completing the requirements for her undergraduate degree.
Students in the co-op program can earn enough money to pay for their entire college tuition bill and living expenses, and their time counts towards their employment status with the companies for which they work. While such programs may add up to a full year to students’ time in college, students graduate with a host of marketable skills and professional contacts.
“I didn’t really see the extra time required as a downside because I’ve gained much more experience, which makes me more competitive in the workplace,” says Candace. “The co-op also enhances your understanding of the field and adds relevancy to the classes you’re taking.”
In addition to her co-op internship, Candace pursued a minor in biochemistry and performed undergraduate research in nano-particle atomic layer deposition with a CU professor. During her time here at CU, Candace was a member of the National Society of Black Engineers, Mortar Board, the Big 12 Legislative Council, and she plays the flute. She graduated in May 2006 and secured a job with Shell Oil in Houston, Texas.