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Finding Chemistry in Sciences and Humanities: Derrick Burt

by Web on November 8, 2018

Derrick Burt II chose Millsaps College because of all of the opportunities it offers.

“I like that I have the opportunity to be heavily involved in many different areas on campus,” said Burt, a junior at Millsaps. “I have been able to stay on top of my work while balancing my involvement with fine arts, athletics, and community service through my fraternity.”

Burt, who is from Jackson, is majoring in biology and earning a concentration in vocal performance. He plans to attend pharmacy school and to pursue a career as a pharmacist in either a retail or hospital setting.

As a Kenan scholar, during the summer of 2018, Burt worked with Dr. Cory G. Toyota, associate professor of organic chemistry at Millsaps, on research that involved analyzing viruses found in Trichomonas vaginalis, the protist that causes a sexually transmitted disease named Trichomoniasis in humans. Burt presented their research at the 2018 Mississippi IDeA Conference at the Westin Hotel in Jackson.

The William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust (NC) provides scholarship and research funding for students attending Millsaps from Jackson Public Schools and the surrounding area who are interested in studying science and doing undergraduate research.

Unlike some students who find it tough to understand the concepts of organic chemistry, Burt lists it as one of his favorite classes. “It was a unique learning experience that was a combination of visual learning and challenging concepts,” he said.

Dr. Kristina Stensaas, professor of chemistry, and Dr. Brent Hendrixson, associate professor of biology, are among Millsaps professors who have been helpful, he said. “Their teaching styles work really well with the way that I grasp information, and they are both helpful outside of the classroom,” he said.

A vocal scholarship recipient, Burt is a member of the Millsaps Singers and Chamber Singers. He also joins Jackson’s Northminster Baptist Church Sanctuary Choir as a paid singer each Sunday. Dr. Tim Coker, emeritus professor of music, directs the choir.

“I enjoy getting the opportunity to travel with Chamber Singers and singing challenging music with such a small group,” said Burt, who sings first tenor. “The Millsaps Singers has given me the chance to interact with many more students and make a lot of friendships. I also enjoy watching how people with no singing background enroll in the Millsaps Singers class and become better by the time they finish.”

A member of the Millsaps basketball team for two years, Burt set that aside to make more time for academics. He joined the track team after Coach Andy Till recruited him for the high jump.

Burt is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., which performs community service and sponsors programs both on and off campus. “The fraternity highlights African-American excellence, and has been a great support system while I’ve been in college,” Burt said.

He is also a member of the Millsaps International Buddy System, works at the front desk for the Division of Student Life, and is a resident assistant for one of the residence halls on campus.

“It’s been very challenging balancing my academics with all of my extracurricular activities, but it’s been very doable with the help of my family, friends, professors, and coaches,” Burt said. “I have had a lot of late nights studying for tests, but it’s all been worth it. I think students should be involved as possible on campus because college only happens once.”