By Christian TeBordo

Like the rest of the undergraduate Class of 2024, Erin Thomas will receive her bachelor’s degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on May 18. Thomas, a biological neuroscience major, has chosen to attend a post-baccalaureate program at the National Institutes of Health before applying to graduate programs in neuroscience.

It was the combination of a rigorous, wide-ranging curriculum and the opportunity to do advanced research that drew her to RPI in the first place. “All students within the School of Science receive a foundational education in biology, chemistry, and physics,” Thomas said. The research options available to undergraduate students allowed her to build on that right away.

Thomas’s personal experiences led her to study biological neuroscience. “Having grown up with a sister with autism, I’ve always wanted to know more about the brain and how it operates in different individuals,” she said. The supportive structure of an RPI education allowed her to explore that interest. “Despite the large number of students in introductory courses, there are smaller recitation sections and even smaller mentoring groups to make sure that we don’t miss a single concept.”

At RPI, Thomas found a place where she not only felt welcomed, but which has continued to foster her undying curiosity about the world. “The support system makes a world of difference,” she said. She expects that it will continue to make a difference long after she graduates. “I’ve gained an extensive network of RPI friends and colleagues who I know I’ll rely on throughout my career.”

She can be sure that when she walks across the stage at Commencement, her sister, her family, and the entire RPI community will be celebrating with her.