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Class of 2024: Sebastian Whipple

A science major wasn’t originally in Sebastian Whipple’s plans. But through mentorship from faculty like professors Cheng Huang, Dana Ferraris, and Jessica Ford, he discovered the fun of Biology, Chemistry, and Kinesiology. Through student-faculty research in the lab and peer tutoring, Sebastian knows now that his future lies in the sciences.

A student sits at a table with a notebook in front of him.

Sebastian Whipple is a Biology and Kinesiology major with a minor in Chemistry from Washington, D.C.

When I took my first step on the Hill, I was: A little bit lost, a little bit confused, but very excited to start a new part of my journey.

The me who will ring the Old Main bell on Commencement Day is: Still a little bit confused but a much stronger, smarter, and more confident person.

Real-world experiences: I have done research with Dr. Cheng Huang in the Biology department, Dr. Dana Ferraris in the Chemistry department, and Dr. Jessica Ford in the Kinesiology department. All of them were vastly different and all taught me different skills, so it is hard to pick a favorite — Dr. Ferraris took us out to eat, though. During my research with Dr. Huang, I was part of a 10-year reunion of his lab, so I got to meet several alumni, all of whom are doing great things, which was exciting.

My aha moment: I think there was a moment junior year that I realized that all the work I had put in was really paying off, and concepts started clicking.

Footprints I’m leaving on the Hill: I hope to be remembered as someone who tried to help as many people as possible along the way.

Faculty or staff member who most influenced who I have become: Dr. Huang, Dr. Ferraris, and Dr. Ford all influenced me a lot but none of what I have accomplished here would have been possible without Dr. Huang, so I would have to say him. He taught me how to think critically and problem solve for myself, which led to opportunities I got down the line.

Best class ever: I think the classes that changed me the most were Topics in Biology with Dr. Huang and Organic Chemistry with Dr. Ferraris. However, my most fun class ever was Speed and Conditioning with Dr. Jennifer McKenzie. We got to learn about the physiology of speed and conditioning, and then we also got to run around outside.

Tell us a little about your activities, including sports, during your years at McDaniel: I play a lot of basketball for fun, lift weights, and I have done tutoring in almost every capacity.

Took me totally by surprise: Well, when I got here, I had no interest in science because it didn’t make sense to me and I thought that I wasn’t smart enough for it. So, I was definitely surprised that I was not only capable but also that the content was interesting.

My favorite spot on campus: Probably the gym, it’s always helped clear my head.

Most mind-boggling idea I learned at McDaniel: I would say the most mind-boggling concept I learned was in Developmental Biology, where we learned how we go from a single-celled zygote to the full, functional people we are.

My capstone titles: 1) “Molecular Cloning of Neurexin2a cDNA” and 2) “Investigating the Role of Personality on Self-Talk Styles.”

A student sits at a table with a notebook and mug in front of him.

What they’re about in plain talk: My Biology capstone is all about molecular cloning, where we take a gene we care about, and put it into a bacterial cell to let it divide (because bacteria love to divide). When we take it back out, we have a lot of that gene. In my case, the idea is to later use that to figure out if it interacts with another gene we care about.

My Kinesiology capstone tests if personality can predict how athletes talk to themselves during sports. Basically, trying to answer if a person’s innate personality has anything to do with how they talk to themselves, hopefully helping coaches understand their athletes better.

What’s next: I am looking for jobs for a year or two before I apply to graduate school for chemistry.

How will you stay connected to McDaniel? I really value the relationships I have built here, so I definitely plan to keep in touch.

If you received financial aid, what did that mean for you and your family? Honestly, financial aid was the number one factor in my college decision. It was an absolute game-changer for us, and I hope to pay it forward.

About Sebastian

Name: Sebastian Whipple

Majors: Kinesiology and Biology

Minor: Chemistry

Class of 2024

"The most mind-boggling concept I learned was in Developmental Biology, where we learned how we go from a single-celled zygote to the full, functional people we are."