Lab Instructor Sarah Gordon has worked at Rappahannock Community College for 2 1/2 years at the Warsaw Campus teaching students the hands-on skills required to work in a collegiate-level biology lab. Though her career at RCC is fairly recent, Sarah’s family history at RCC has deep roots.
Born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Sarah’s family moved to Virginia when she was in the 5th grade. Her love of science began in middle school as she took biology courses. She knew science would be a life-long passion after completing a high school marine biology course. As a graduate from St. Margaret’s School, she then went on to receive a Bachelor’s in Biology from Bridgewater College. The summer before her senior year, she attended a mini-mester in Costa Rica to study Tropical Ecology, which she fondly noted was “one of the most amazing experiences” she has had to date.
In January 2017, Sarah began working at RCC as a lab prep technician, readying the science labs for instruction before the students arrived. While pursuing her Master’s degree in Biology online at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, Sarah began teaching Lab Instruction for Biology 101 and 150. “Working at RCC has brought me back to where I wanted to be,” Sarah said. “Because of RCC’s employee tuition reimbursement program I am able to pursue my Master’s degree.” Sarah is currently conducting an independent research project through UNK with puffer fish, or “sugar toads,” in her local Lancaster area. This observational study allows her to research puffer fish in her kayak through an underwater camera. Sarah hopes to discover more information on how the presence of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) and water quality (salinity and water temperature) affect the puffer fish habitat. As of August, her study is more than halfway complete.
Beyond the bio lab, Sarah and her family have a legacy as RCC instructors. Her uncle, Phil Semsch, taught History for almost 20 years, earning the status of Professor Emeritus. Her mother, Joan Smith, taught Government for three years at RCC. Sarah hopes her career in the sciences will be just as lengthy. “I like everything here at RCC, it’s very welcoming,” she said, “It feels like family.” Sarah will continue to prep labs for science courses at the Warsaw and King George campuses this fall.