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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Chemistry Alum Uses the Power of Science

By Tiffany Whitfield

Old Dominion University alumna Sarah Hall is the founder and CEO of two chemical companies, Tamaya Chemical and Quad Chemicals, located in Virginia Beach.

Her journey in science began at ODU. "When I got my first "C" grade ever, in my life, on my first Chemistry 101 test, I created and accepted my own personal challenge to major in Chemistry," she said. "I have never regretted it." Hall graduated in 1984 with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry.

After graduation, Hall worked at a local chemical company. It was then that the power of an idea would begin to formulate into a new career choice. "I started Tamaya Chemical Corporation because the market had a need for supply," Hall said. "Someone that I worked with previously at my first job had gone back to Chile and made me aware of the new mines being developed. We started to produce and market products and it took off."

Hall then founded a second company, Quad Chemicals, which sells nitrogen chemicals.

Having a technical background has given Hall an added advantage. "I'm on the commercial side of things, but when issues come up about what chemicals are purchased, I am aware that there are other derivatives of those chemicals," she said.

Running two companies proves Hall is still up to challenges in the science field. "At the beginning of my career, there were less than 5% women present, for example, at industry meetings," she said. "However, today I see 30% to 40%, so that's a huge change in 30 years."

She thinks more women are choosing science careers and hopes more females capitalize on their unique approach to challenges. "I think men and women have different problem-solving skills and different ways of approaching things, and I think both men and women add a lot of value in the workforce," Hall said.

Hall has advice for the next generation of female scientists: "If you take the time to find yourself a mentor, there are plenty of women to help pull you up." She notes that most of the industry associations have women's breakfasts, cocktails and formal networking events to help facilitate mentorships.

Hall credits ODU for her success. "I love ODU, and I use my education every day," she said. "The programs at ODU are solid, and I think that if students decide where to go based on the program they decide to enter, I think they'll choose ODU."

Hall finds the time to give back to her alma mater. She serves on the College of Sciences Advisory Board and has purchased two elements on the "Elements of Giving" periodic table located on the first floor of the New Chemistry Building. Each element purchased will help build an endowment for student success in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

"I have always felt thankful that ODU was my destiny school and helping up and coming Monarchs reach their destiny is my way of giving back," Hall said.


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