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Student Spotlight: Theodore Frater

Theodore Frater is a senior in Sustainable Materials and Technology double minoring in environmental science and statistics. We caught up with Theodore to share his experiences and advice for incoming Sustainable Materials and Technology students.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I have been at NC State since my freshman year but transferred into the Sustainable Materials and Technology program my sophomore year. In addition to being a student, I am a teaching assistant for Dr. Perry Peralta, who teaches Physical Properties of Sustainable Materials and Mechanical Properties of Sustainable Materials. An interesting fact about me is that I am six foot six (two meters) and have gotten pretty good at folding my legs up to fit on planes and in cars. I was born in Jamaica, but I do not have an accent.

Why did you choose to major in Sustainable Materials and Technology (SMT)?

I chose SMT because I have always been interested in the environment and interactions within it. A good example is bees and flowers. Bees go from flower to flower gathering pollen for themselves but they also transfer pollen between flowering plants to promote growth. Bees and flowers had plenty of time to form this relationship. However, humans need to put in more effort if they want to achieve this goal sooner. That’s where SMT comes in. I chose this major because it gave me the opportunity to learn how humans can start working with the planet, instead of consuming it.

What is your favorite thing about SMT?

The people are my favorite part about SMT. The faculty and my fellow students are like a safe haven for me. We are a small but diverse community that looks out for each other. The thing that we all share in common is that we want to try and make a positive impact on the world.

What is your favorite extracurricular activity?

Cooking! I have been in the kitchen ever since I could see over the counter. I like cooking because there are so many ingredients, recipes and techniques to try. The only way to mess up in the kitchen is to make something that you can’t eat. If a recipe doesn’t turn out the way you wanted then there is a good chance you just made something else by accident. Cooking is also an easy way to connect with people from different backgrounds. Sharing favorite meals with someone is an easy way to make a good friend. I am no chef, but trial and error is part of the fun.

How do you relax and destress?

I relax and destress by catching up with family and friends. It is really comforting to talk to my mom and my sister when I am drowning in stress. Even if I don’t talk about my problems, it is comforting to know that they are there to support me. Most of my friends play video games, so it is easy to connect even in the midst of COVID. It is not the same as interacting face to face but it is a couple of hours several times a week where we can catch up and laugh about similar struggles.

What advice would you offer an incoming freshman?

To the incoming freshman class, I would say that it is okay to be uncertain or unsure about what you are doing. At least for me, those uncertainties didn’t go away in four years and COVID is certainly not helping. So remember to enjoy the little things and get to know the people around you, because they really are from all walks of life. Another important reminder is that everyone takes different paths in life. Some people fly, swim, run or climb, so you will feel frustrated trying to climb a mountain with flippers. The main idea there is don’t try to copy other people and hope for the best. Work on things you’re good at and find out things you enjoy.