In our Always a Redhawk series, we highlight some of our most recent graduates and the jobs they landed.


Jaina Bemis graduated May 13 with a bachelor’s degree in forensic chemistry from Southeast Missouri State University but for her, her educational journey is far from over. Not until she sees “Dr.” in front of her name.

After graduation, Bemis is heading to North Carolina to begin her doctoral program at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

“I will be doing research on polymers,” said Bemis. “Hopefully with a group that is bridging the gap between sustainability and plastics.”

Polymer research being her primary focus, Bemis hopes to find a career in a related field. 

“I currently would like to work for Boeing or in the chemical industry after graduate school,” said Bemis. “I’d like to continue on the polymer chemistry track, so I’m shifting away from forensics.”

Bemis realized her passion for polymer chemistry during a summer internship at Kansas University. She credits the organizations she was a part of at Southeast for preparing her not only for her internship, but to continue on to her graduate program.

“I have been a learning assistant at SEMO for the past two years,” said Bemis. “This position allowed for me to stay fresh in the subject areas I will need most in graduate school.”

But it’s not just the organizations she was a part of that Bemis credits for her preparation. She also recognizes the professors who helped her along the way. 

“Dr. Sarah Shaner in the Department of Chemistry and Physics is my biggest inspiration at SEMO,” said Bemis. “She always pushed me to be the best I can be.”


Learn More About Jaina's Majors

Always a Redhawk

Jaina is using her degree in forensic chemistry to pursue further education. Learn more about the degree options available in the sciences.

As it would turn out, Bemis’ best is pretty good. She received multiple acceptance letters after sending out applications to several doctoral programs. 

“I applied to so many schools,” said Bemis. “I had fantastic recommendations by the professors at Southeast, which definitely kick-started the process. I ended up getting into 5/6 schools I applied for, so it ended up being a question of finding the right fit.”

The right fit would find her in UNC Blue as a Tarheel. And although her time at Southeast has come to an end, she says her inquisitive spirit that was fostered here will stick with her wherever she goes. 

“I’ve learned over the years here that I should always seek more knowledge,” said Bemis. “And to never be afraid to ask what I most want to ask.”

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Celebrating Graduates

2023 Commencement

With this spring’s 1,414 graduates, Southeast Missouri State University is preparing the next generation of entrepreneurs, teachers, artists, healthcare professionals and leaders that our communities need. See our news site for more on our grads, including the 2023 President's List and Dean's List.