DECATUR — At first glance, combining a chemistry degree with a minor in business would seem to be a slightly odd mix, but it's not really.

Korinne Frankford, a senior at Millikin University, is simply looking ahead to the day when she might want to own a pharmacy. She's applying to pharmacy school this month, and that's four more years of training to be a qualified pharmacist.

In the meantime, she's serving as an intern at Archer Daniels Midland Co. for the summer, and there's the possibility of a job during the school year as well.

“We're going to be working on one of the (near-infrared) instruments in the glycol plant,” Frankford said. “It's an analytical technique you can use to determine the composition of a molecule.”

She was chosen from among the science students at Millikin to receive a scholarship and the internship through the ADM Cares program. The scholarship is a new one that was established in the spring semester.

“She will be using a white but not visible light, just slightly outside of the visible region to probe the structure of samples she wants to analyze,” said Paris Barnes, chair of the chemistry department and an associate professor.

Frankford will be spending the summer working on the project, which is still under development.

“It's a new process and we're still trying to figure out the kinks,” she said. “This will allow me to kind of get an idea of what real-life chemistry is. Millikin can prepare me all they want in the classroom, and I've already learned that it's completely different in real-world application versus what I'll learn in a lab. Millikin has given me a bunch of background, that's for sure. I've needed to use some of my analytical chemistry.”

Frankford has been saying she wants to be a pharmacist since she was 5, according to her parents. All she knew as a small child is that her relatives who are pharmacists helped people by providing the medicine that made them feel better. She has job-shadowed pharmacists in hospitals and retail settings as a student and those experiences confirmed her convictions.

ADM Cares has funded a number of education-related projects for Decatur schools and has worked with Millikin on several entrepreneurship projects as well, said Julienne Shields, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at the university.

“I really do think ADM is appreciative of the business blend with science, and a more scientific process in with business,” she said. “We've got a number of pre-professional programs in the sciences where they take business classes. Just learning the science isn't going to help them launch a business, which they need for succession planning purposes. Doctors and chiropractors and others are asking, 'How do I get this person ready to take over so I can retire?' (Our students) need to be ready to capitalize on that.”

Barnes said chemistry is a problem-solving degree, not just a science degree, and one of the things Frankford excels at is problem-solving.

“One of the reasons she was ultimately selected for this scholarship and the internship was because of her problem-solving ability,” Barnes said. “She's getting a chance to do a technique that we just can't offer at this university, and actually a lot of graduates never get a chance to do what she's getting ready to attempt to do, which is, she's going to troubleshoot an instrument which takes time.

“And she's going to learn to use a technique that's not commonly taught as part of an undergraduate curriculum. We have this buzzword around here, 'performance learning.' This is just another example of the way the university has partnered with local industries and businesses to bring performance learning to life for our students.”

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Staff Writer

Education and family reporter for the Herald & Review.

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