Taking Chemistry up a Level


By: Claudia Artola, Staff writer

By: Claudia Artola

Philip Pagano, the new chemistry teacher here at MCC, is more than just your everyday teacher.

Pagano got his Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University of Iowa in 2007. He’s been teaching on and off since he started grad school in 2010. “I’ve been teaching a little bit before graduating,” says Pagano while explaining how he fell into teaching. After some time, he eventually needed a full-time job and started to look for some jobs. He found out about this position and decided to apply for it.

Pagano explains that there were several factors that inspired him to become a teacher.  One of them was being a part of his Ph.D. program and going through the college experience. When he was a sophomore in grad school, Pagano started working for a tutoring center at the University of Iowa. He did this until the end of his senior year and discovered that teaching not only helped others but helped him study as well. This is where he noticed that teaching other people had an important value for him, and he had a natural talent for it.

“I had a teacher in high school that pushed on me when I was not such a great student. I didn’t take that necessarily serious until college”, Pagano says. He explains that at the moment he had skin in the game, he understood what his teacher meant and how important grades and responsibility were.

His previous major was clinical laboratory scientist, but he didn’t really know what he wanted to do in life. Next semester, he had a really great teacher for chemistry. He started really enjoying the class and gained a big interest in chemistry in general. He quickly realized he could have a chemistry minor if he took one extra class. That leads him to take Organic Chemistry and ended up liking that class better than any of his others. He changed his major and switched during his junior year.

His favorite thing about teaching is to inspire people who were not inspired before taking his classes. He loves getting to interact with new people that have a passion for the same things he does and discusses it. He also enjoys the interaction with young people that are fresh to the topic and the field.

“If I did not have to pay my bills, I would play music all the time”, Pagano says. He plays several instruments, but the guitar is his favorite and his true passion. His previous passion was looking forward to working with lab instrumentation after being done with grad school.

Pagano is not just an ordinary chemist. He also enjoys cooking whenever he has some extra time. As mentioned before, he also enjoys music and plays in a band with some friends. They recently had the chance to play at a music festival.  

Pagano has plans for the future but life is a rollercoaster that he is ready to take on.