Alex Combs ’16 makes an impact in academics and athletics as a first-generation graduate

Posted by Centre News in Academics, Athletics, Chemistry, News 09 Jun 2016

combs_alex_news_headerAs a member of the women’s soccer team, a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority, president of the American Chemical Society club, a resident assistant and resident director, Alex Combs ’16 had an impressive resumé as a Centre College student. What makes her accomplishments all the more impressive is that she achieved them as a first-generation college graduate.

Combs, a chemistry major from Danville, Ky., was familiar with Centre before enrolling, as her brother Chris graduated in 2005, but a combination of academics and athletics are what drew her to the College.

“Playing soccer is one of the initial things that brought me here. Centre seemed like a good fit for soccer and I was really excited to play here, but my Centre experience became much more than that,” Combs says.

While she came to Centre with plans to go pre-med, guidance from professors and research opportunities in chemistry opened her eyes to other interests.

“I explored options of going into the health care profession but never felt satisfied. I was encouraged to seek out research opportunities and met with [assistant professor of chemistry] Leonard Demoranville, whom I worked with the summer after my freshman year,” Combs says. “That experience opened my eyes to the possibility of what else science majors can do.”

As a first-generation college graduate, Combs is appreciative of the opportunities provided her by her parents.

“I am extremely grateful to have been able to come to Centre. [My parents] knew it was what I wanted,” Combs says. “They were willing to let me pursue what I wanted to do at the place I wanted to do it.

“They are incredibly intelligent people who just didn’t get the opportunity to go to college,” Combs continues. “It’s almost like they missed their chance to do it. They have always pushed me to pursue education. I’m just happy that I was able to live up to my parents’ expectations and that I was able to succeed in college. I don’t take them for granted.”

When Combs enrolls at Auburn University this fall to pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry, she will be the first person in her family to pursue a doctoral degree. As she embarks on this new opportunity, she takes with her the experiences and knowledge she gained during the last four years.

“Centre opened so many doors that other schools might not have. I might still be attempting to become a physician if I had attended another school,” she says. “My family is excited that I was able to find myself at Centre and figure out what I want to do—as well as to see the culmination of that and see where I will go in the next few years and the rest of my life.”

by Elizabeth Trollinger
June 7, 2016