Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Meet Our Faculty: Ron Valcarce

Ron Valcarce

School of: Science, Mathematics & Engineering
What he teaches:
Organic Chemistry

Number of years teaching at SLCC:

Utah State University

Utah State University

Ron Valcarce teaches high school students the science behind making lip balm in the lab.

Why working at SLCC matters:

It has been my honor to teach at Salt Lake Community College, a place where students can and do change their lives. During my time here at SLCC working with my colleagues in the chemistry department, we have helped countless students find success in our classrooms and transition to become scientists, pharmacists, doctors, dentists and physician assistants. We have former students practicing successfully in all areas of the scientific and healthcare fields. Many, if not most of them, would not be in those professional positions if it were not for SLCC, which is the access point that gives these students opportunities for personal and professional success.     

How important SLCC is for our community:

Having the opportunity to teach at SLCC I have seen how valuable SLCC is to our community. I know of a significant number of my past students who would not have been able to access higher education were not for SLCC. For many, SLCC offered a second chance when their first attempt at college did not go as expected. Almost without exception, I have seen these students take advantage of this second chance and go on to earn their degrees and ultimately build successful careers.     

Greatest professional challenge:

Every semester we get a small group of students that, because of previous “bad experiences” in their high school science or chemistry classes, are certain they do not like or cannot be successful in our chemistry courses. Enlightening these students is a professional and enjoyable challenge. Fortunately, we have outstanding chemistry faculty who work as a cohesive group and share the teaching philosophy that when students are shown the chemistry that is used everywhere in their world, chemistry becomes accessible and even enjoyable.     

Greatest professional accomplishment:

I helped establish the American Chemical Society Student Affiliate chapter at Salt Lake Community College, which is supported by our chemistry department and supervised by our chemistry and nanotechnology faculty. Since its formation, the ACS-SA of SLCC has had steady membership growth and is now one of the largest ACS Student Affiliates in the nation. Since 2001, our ACS Student Affiliate has raised over $200,000 for local charities and provided over 69,000 service hours. As ACS-SA advisors, we have supervised over a hundred undergraduate research projects and given 240 students the opportunity to attend one of the annual ACS national conferences, where students presented their undergraduate research results and networked with professionals from all areas of the chemical sciences. In 1995 we created a community education outreach program that was originally called the Faraday Project. Now called Elemental Expeditions, this program was designed to promote STEM education to disadvantaged K-7 grade students attending resource limited schools.  Our Elemental Expeditions team members visit elementary and middle schools, after-school programs and Boy’s and Girl’s Clubs in the Salt Lake Valley to provide hands-on science demonstrations. In 2013 we initiated an undergraduate research project to attempt to measure the effectiveness of this educational outreach effort. The Chemical Information Series (CIS) is a program managed by our ACS-SA that is designed to give students information about careers in the chemical sciences and to provide professional development. This program works closely with five SLCC clubs (SLCC Chemistry Club, Pre-Pharmacy Club, Pre-Medical Professions Club, Nanotechnology Club and Biotechnology Club) and arranges or supports on- and off-campus speakers, trips to local science-related businesses and academic laboratories, pre-professional workshops, outreach projects and more. 

Advice for students or others:

The best advice for students is summarized in my favorite Thomas Huxley quote: "Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not." It is the first lesson that ought to be learned and, however early a person’s training begins, it is probably the last lesson that a person learns thoroughly.


Golf, Skiing, Beekeeping