“I really appreciate RCC. It was very good for me.” — Zac Bullard
Zac Bullard went from being home schooled in Josephine County to studying nanotechnology at Columbia University in New York City—with a stop along the way at Rogue Community College.
Bullard enrolled at RCC when he was 17, completed an Associate of General Studies degree last June, and was accepted at Columbia University as a junior.
Now 20, Bullard says he selected the prestigious Ivy League school because it offers one of the nation’s strongest nanotechnology programs, an interest he’s held since age 15.
“The best part about RCC was definitely the year I took chemistry, calculus, and physics,” Bullard said. “It was really enjoyable. That’s when I started learning the underlying fundamental laws of science. At RCC you get more attention, which is good because you want to develop strong fundamentals.” In numerous regards, Bullard feels better prepared than a lot of students who began their college careers at Columbia, especially in understanding “the hardcore concepts behind the math,” he said. For that he thanks RCC math instructor Dennis Kimzey.
“I really appreciate RCC. It was very good for me,” he said, adding that he also enjoyed art classes. “There’s a lot of art in science.”
There’s fun in science, too, as Bullard demonstrated during a recent visit to Grants Pass. He met with his former RCC chemistry instructor, John Salinas, and participated in some lab experiments. They dropped an aluminum block into a beaker of hydrochloric acid, aiming—apparently successfully — to remove small crystals from the metal.
Bullard also is applying his love of science to his university studies. This winter he’s taking 21 credits and working as an undergraduate research assistant for a leading authority on nanotechnology, the manipulation of individual atoms and molecules.
He’s also enjoying life in the Big Apple.
“After being born and raised in Grants Pass, I wanted to get a taste of the big city,” he said. “I love it. There’s so much to do and see, so much art and culture. The coolest thing is a sense there of unlimited opportunity and that as much energy and ambition as you have, that’s how far you can succeed.” Bullard aims to complete a bachelor’s degree in natural science, go on to graduate school, and then either stay in academia or do research for a corporation.
“My number one rule is to just be enthusiastic and motivated about what you do,” he said. “ You’ll wind up fine — or better.”
And when he begins earning serious money, he says, he plans to reinvest in the RCC Foundation, which helped him with scholarships during his time at Rogue.
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