An Chu ’17 Receives New Jersey Teaching Award

By Kirsten Arentzen
Tuesday, July 31 2018

The New Jersey Department of Education selected Princeton alumnus and chemistry major, An Thien Chu ’17, as a recipient of the 2018 State of New Jersey Distinguished Clinical Intern Award. Chu is among three Princeton alumni or student awardees for 2018.

The NJ Department of Education selects fifteen student teachers for the award each year, recognizing the recipients as the top graduates from the 25 educator preparation programs in New Jersey’s colleges and universities. The awards were presented in a ceremony on June 13 officiated by Dr. Lamont Repollet, NJ Commissioner of Education. 

Chu graduated from Princeton with a degree in chemistry, and during his undergraduate years he completed the required coursework for the Program in Teacher Preparation.  He then fulfilled the student teaching component at Princeton High School under the mentorship of host teacher, Janine Giammanco.  In the classroom, he was able to continue to pursue his love of chemistry from an instructor’s point of view rather than that of a student.   When asked about his teaching experiences, he said emphatically, “It’s HARD!” He described the hours spent preparing his lessons, discussing best teaching practices with his mentor, and the demands of presenting material clearly to his students during classroom sessions. As time-consuming as his teaching schedule proved to be, Chu is adamant that his experience was extremely rewarding. He viewed it as a way to contribute to the community as well as an opportunity to share his love of science and chemistry with younger students. He also stated that his hours in the classroom honed his ability to explain challenging material clearly and to do so with confidence.

Chu was also one of the first undergraduates to serve as a preceptor in a reconfigured, two-semester organic chemistry program under the direction of Professor Martin F. Semmelhack.  The program recruited successful “orgo” students to assist with teaching younger undergraduates enrolled in succeeding classes.  Chu quickly developed into a dedicated preceptor by leading review sessions, tutoring anyone struggling to master the challenging material, and approaching all of his duties with the underlying objective of building a can-do attitude with his students.

At Princeton, Chu pursued research with Professor Andrew B. Bocarsly.  His thesis was entitled “Synthesis & Characterization of Ni‐Ga and Fe‐Ga Nanoparticles for Electrochemical Carbon Dioxide Reduction.”  During his years as a member of the Bocarsly lab, Chu mentored younger Princeton students and summer undergraduates from other institutions, guiding them with great patience and always with the goal of sparking a love of scientific research

In June of 2017, Chu graduated with a Certificate in Teacher Preparation, nomination to Sigma Xi: The Scientific Research Society, and High Honors in Chemistry.  His outstanding achievements in chemistry were recognized with the American Institute of Chemists Award for “a demonstrated record of leadership, ability, character, scholastic achievement, and potential for the advancement of the chemical profession.”

Chu is currently enrolled in the chemistry PhD program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston.

The official announcement may be found here:’17-natalie-rodriguez-nelson-