Chemistry alum embraces the humanities

Portrait of Larry RoyDr. Larry Roy, CLAS '80, never envisioned himself in the medical field. But after exploring different areas of interest within Wayne State's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Roy fell in love with chemistry and ultimately attended the University of Chicago for medical school. Now as the vice president for quality and patient safety at Advocate Children's Hospital, the second largest children's hospital in Illinois, Roy uses the strong analytical skills that he learned at Wayne State to add innovative and creative thinking to his work. A generous donor to the university, Roy continues to provide opportunities for students to succeed in college, as he once did.

When did you attend Wayne State, and what did you study?

I was at Wayne State for five years, from 1975 to 1980. I was extremely fortunate to have received the merit scholarship. I was a pre-med, but I fell in love with chemistry. My instructors were so inspiring and classes were taught with such passion and insight. I also ended up working in an organic chemistry lab.

Why Wayne State?

Originally, I didn't know where I was going. I went to a high school that didn't have the best college guidance, and I don't think it inspired students. Luckily, I found enough intellectual curiosity in high school to know that I would do well in college. I was excited to go to Wayne State and the merit scholarship was a great opportunity for me.

What was it like to be a chemistry major?

The chemistry training, not just from the classroom but in the lab, was really instrumental in my developing strong analytical skills. It also made me think "outside the box." As a physician, I'm essentially an academic pediatrician, and it helped me in my analytical diagnostic capabilities.

I really took advantage of the term "liberal arts education." I didn't view doing five years as a burden; I viewed it as an opportunity to explore different interests and develop my passion, knowledge, and skills. In terms of my overall personal growth, not just professional growth, I took an art history course for my basic requirements. It was spectacular. When I started college, I never thought I was going to be a pre-med chemistry major who got interested in art and the humanities.

What did you learn at Wayne State that helped you get to where you are today?

The sciences helped with my analytical abilities and some level of creativity of innovation. But I owe the rest to the liberal arts. The writing, the literature, and the art all contributed to that certain sense of creativity that is important in my job.

What advice would you give to current students?

Give classes that you think are merely requirements a chance. Those in the arts in particular may actually help broaden your horizons. You'll find some passions out of that.

Take advantage of networking as well. You will have the opportunity to meet people in the Detroit area and from around the state, as well as internationally.

Finally, you have to persevere. Don't be afraid to challenge yourself with a course in a new subject. If you strive for success, you're going to run into challenges; you have to embrace and overcome them.

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