Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Dec 19
Chemistry – a benefit to all majors

Career Focus - chemistry 1.jpg

Mid-Plains Community College student Kayla Harrison, of Richmond, British Columbia, and chemistry instructor Layne Sarvela, watch as student Laura Mata Garcia, of Barcelona, Spain, conducts a chemistry experiment in McCook. 

Students don't have to be chemistry majors to reap the benefits of a chemistry class. That's according to Layne Sarvela and Dr. Aaron McLean who teach chemistry for Mid-Plains Community College. 

"Most of my students aren't going to be chemists," said Sarvela. "But, they are going to use what they've learned in whatever field they go into. Research, problem solving – those tools are valuable in any program of study, from journalism to mining and anything in between." 

The majority of McLean's students are going into a medical field such as nursing or medical laboratory technician. 


Cassidy McGuire, of North Platte, performs a flame ionization experiment in Dr. Aaron McLean's chemistry lab.

"Future doctors, veterinarians, pharmacists – they all take chemistry," said McLean. "But, there are a lot of other professionals who can benefit from having some chemistry as well." 

He used the areas of forensic science, criminal justice and even agriculture as examples. Everyone in those careers must know the basics of how to break down a problem then apply a scientific method to solve that problem. 

"The application of herbicides, pesticides and other chemical agents in the field is all chemistry," said McLean. "By using them, farmers are either trying to accelerate or prevent something in crops, so the more they understand about chemistry, the more successful they will be." 


Adalida Dickmander, of Brule, and Tiana Yocam, of Keystone, watch as different metals produce various colors of light. It's the same phenomenon seen in different colors of fireworks.

Because chemistry is so important, MPCC offers different levels of it to meet the needs of everyone it serves. There's an introductory level as well as general and advanced options. The classes are at multiple times to accommodate both traditional and non-traditional students. 

In addition to regular, daytime classes, evening classes are available. Sarvela even offers a four-credit hybrid course designed for working students. It includes online lectures, videos, practice problems and weekly quizzes. Once a week, during the evening, students travel to campus for a lab where they receive one-on-one instruction. 

More information about Mid-Plains and the chemistry classes it offers can be found online at

Heather Johnson
Area Communications Specialist

Heather produces and distributes press releases for the college. She began work at MPCC in 2014. Prior to that, she spent five years as the news director/web manager for Eagle Radio in North Platte. From 2009-2014 she worked as a reporter/photographer for The North Platte Telegraph. Heather has a bachelor's degree in journalism from Chadron State College.

Brent L. Cobb
McCook Community College News Bureau Coordinator​​​