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Dr. Venkat Chebolu

Dr. Venkat Chebolu ~ Still in His Element

Dr. Venkat Chebolu, professor of chemistry at Jefferson, was born and raised in India and holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Bombay and a master’s degree in chemistry from the Indian Institute of Technology. It was after earning his master’s degree that he decided to come to the United States to pursue his doctoral degree in chemistry. “I was looking to challenge myself. I was 24 years old and coming to America was something I always wanted to do; and it was also something really cool to do,” Dr. Chebolu said.  He attended Stony Brook University where he was offered a graduate teaching assistant position. It was there that his love for teaching was first sparked.

After graduating with his Ph.D. in chemistry in 1983, Dr. Chebolu attended Penn State where he conducted post-doctoral research in chemistry for the following 3 years.  After completing his post-doctoral work, he taught chemistry at Wilkes-Barre as a sabbatical replacement.  “I knew teaching was my calling, and when I found that Jefferson was looking for a full-time chemistry instructor, I jumped at it. That was in the fall of 1993 and everything about Jefferson appeared to be a perfect fit for me, and it still is,” he said.  Dr. Chebolu’s soft spoken demeanor and sharp wit is well known among his colleagues and students, and is what has made him one of the more popular professors on campus. “The best part of teaching here is to see how successful your students become. I still get letters from my former students and to hear that we’ve made a difference in their professional and personal lives, it’s the most rewarding part,” he said.

Dr. Chebolu’s passion for chemistry has never waned, along with his compassion for his students and the strong desire to help them succeed. “It can be a challenge sometimes trying to help a student who is struggling, but it’s in those moments where a light bulb goes off, you can actually see the brightness in their eyes, and you know they’ve got it; that’s what teaching is all about. My students know that my door is always open and they know they can come anytime, no appointment needed,” he said. “After all these years I still love to teach chemistry. It feels new to me each and every semester because each semester comes with a new crop of students, it’s like a fresh new start every time and I never get tired of it.”

Dr. Chebolu’s advice to all of his students is to keep an open mind. “I tell my students to try and maximize their opportunities, don’t box yourself in to what you think you have to do. Try and explore as many of the science classes you can and more doors will be open to you in the end,” he said. “Roger Federer is my hero. He’s not afraid of losing and he just continues to play the game because he loves it. That’s exactly how I feel about teaching at Jefferson, I want to do it forever; retirement is not even on my mind.”

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