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Sydney Floryanzia in a sunny garden
Sydney Floryanzia is graduating with Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering, and minors in tissue engineering and in biotechnology -- and plenty of gratitude for NC State donors. Contributed photo.

Sydney Floryanzia had many options for what she would call her college home.

And in the beginning, NC State definitely wasn’t her first choice.

It’s not that she didn’t think it was a great school, but her parents had both attended NC State and her mother works at the university. Floryanzia remembers wondering in high school whether she was branching out enough or if she perhaps needed to travel a little farther from home.

But Floryanzia had participated in summer engineering camps at NC State for a long time. She had built a relationship with faculty and staff. She’d visited other schools as she considered the possibilities, and found NC State’s campus was, in her words, “just bursting with life” in comparison.

“I could really feel the student culture here,” she said. “It was strong, vibrant, and everyone was encouraging.”

So when it came down to making a decision, Floryanzia realized she really did want to attend NC State.

She hasn’t looked back since. This week, she’ll receive her Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering, with minors in tissue engineering and in biotechnology.

Thanks to a number of scholarships and other financial support, she has been able to focus on academic, research, professional development and extracurricular activities, rather than worry about the cost of attending school. She has embraced opportunities she might not have pursued.

“I never thought I would go abroad in college – I didn’t think as an engineer that’s something I would do, or maybe it would be too much money or too hard to coordinate,” Floryanzia said, for example.

Instead she went overseas twice, traveling to the Netherlands for a research competition and connecting with scientists and engineers from all over the world, and traveling to Rwanda with the Women and Minority Engineering Programs as part of NC State’s Alternative Service Break opportunities.

“Both of these experiences were directly supported by the Engineer Your Experience Fund and the endowed scholarships I have received,” she said.

Floryanzia said the depth and diversity of experiences she has enjoyed are more than she expected in college, noting not just study abroad but also research and career development opportunities, including two internships with Merck. Thanks to an Engineer Your Experience Grand Challenge Research Grant, Floryanzia has been able to work on an independent research project surrounding chemical engineering applications to the blood-brain barrier and neuroscience in general.

Floryanzia’s list of financial awards and scholarships is long and impressive. She has formed a special connection with the donor for one of her scholarships, Elizabeth Nance, who established the Edna Loretta Nussman Scholarship. Nance serves as a mentor and inspiration to Floryanzia.

Following graduation from NC State, Floryanzia will intern with the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in the Neuroscience Group as a GEM Fellow. She’ll then enroll this fall at the University of Washington, where Nance is a faculty member, to pursue her Ph.D. in chemical engineering. She plans to continue the research that NC State funding allowed her to start – which was inspired by Nance’s work to engineer solutions for brain diseases.

Forming meaningful connections like that one has been impactful for Floryanzia, as have the experiences she never dreamed she would have when she enrolled at NC State.

On campus, she has been active, serving as an Engineering Ambassador, a Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Village mentor, a Grand Challenge Scholar and the social co-chair of NC State’s chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), a professional organization for chemical engineers, among other activities.

As she goes about these various academic, research and extracurricular endeavors, Floryanzia said the donors who have supported her remain in her thoughts.

The fact that her mom works for NC State made her eligible for the NC State Employee Dependent’s Tuition Scholarship. Other support she received early in her college career or applied for with the encouragement of faculty and staff includes: NCSU Engineer Your Experience Grand Challenge Research Grant, the Forest O. and Sandra Mixon Jr./RTI Scholarship, the Edna Loretta Nussman Scholarship, the Duke Energy Annual Diversity Scholarship, the Lord Corporation Scholarship, the Michael B. Christie Memorial Scholarship, the Duke Energy Freshman Scholarship, the AIChE Minority Affairs Committee Scholarship, a GEM Fellowship and an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.

While she knows that having to worry less about finances meant she could take advantage of more opportunities, Floryanzia said there’s another equally meaningful impact for her, when it comes to donor support. And that impact makes her excited to keep giving back as others have given to her.

“Having somebody who not only believes in your success but puts their support through funding behind you is such an encouragement,” she said. “You have a feeling of wanting to make them proud.

“That fact that someone is supporting me as a student is a wonderful thing to have in the back of your mind as you’re going to classes. It’s amazing to know people care.”

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