For any GPC student experiencing anxiety over an upcoming chemistry requirement, these words can be offered, “Chemistry is hard. It’s not easy, but it’s doable.” When asked how he would describe his class, this was the statement with which GPC’s own Dr. Benjamin Tovrog replied. A simple statement, honest and yet reassuring, he sums up the subject that has been the life’s work of this celebrated professor.
Science and math courses commonly strike fear into the hearts and minds of college students. Many feel intimidated by these subjects, often considered the strong suits for a more “left brained” scholar. However, if luck is on a student’s side the day when they are finally faced with that dreaded college level chemistry course, they may rest a bit easier if the name Tovrog is listed on that schedule as the instructor. Tovrog’s personal story is inspiring, as well as his take on the whole science stigma phenomena amongst present day society.
Upon completing his PhD in Inorganic Chemistry, Tovrog spent 25 years working in business doing primarily research and development before turning his eye towards teaching. He had a firsthand look at what companies lacked, so he believed by teaching, he could aid in molding the type of critical thinkers for which employers are searching.
Tovrog’s main approach to chemistry is to think critically, and in doing so, to break big problems into smaller problems, separating the unimportant from the important. In his classes, he uses real world events to help students understand chemistry concepts. If one cannot apply something new they are learning to day-to-day life, then it is not as easily understood or accepted.
When it came time for Tovrog to take on becoming more of a teacher, he recalled a couple of inspiring chemistry professors he had while in school. He describes them as having been approachable, engaging, and interesting. Tovrog has now been teaching for eight years and finds it to be very rewarding.
Tovrog teaches chemistry lecture and lab at both the Dunwoody and Alpharetta GPC campuses. He believes GPC students are motivated, hard working, and receptive to new challenges. He likes the smaller classes, which allows the professors to interact more with their students and he also likes teaching on campuses where there is more cultural diversity.
Tovrog’s advice to students: “Work hard. Aim high. Aspire to great things, but dive into the courses in front of you and work hard. It’s ok if something doesn’t work out as long as you gave your best effort. Don’t be discouraged by setbacks. Try new things. If they work out, run with them. If not, shift gears. Have fun. Be balanced. Go to school the way you plan to live your life. Have friends, form contacts, and network.”
by Melissa Wong, Dunwoody Managing Editor