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Textiles to Teaching: Wilson College Alumna Heads Chemistry Department

Sasha Ormond heads Meredith College’s chemistry, physics and geoscience department and brings textiles to a whole new generation of students.

Sasha Ormond sits behind a desk wearing a red sweater with one of her hands up in the NC State "wolfs up" sign.
Three-time NC State graduate Sasha Ormond in her office at Meredith College, where she serves as a faculty member and department head.

“Getting to know my students, getting to know where they come from and what they’re doing now, seeing their progress over time and just watching them blossom into the incredible professionals that they become — I love it,” says two-time Wilson College of Textiles graduate Sasha Ormond.

Ormond — whose long list of accomplishments includes a B.S. in chemistry, a B.S. in polymer and color chemistry and a Ph.D. in fiber and polymer science — discovered her love of teaching during her time at Wilson College. She has grown that love into a career as not only an associate professor of chemistry, but also as the department head of chemistry, physics and geoscience at Meredith College. 

But Ormond didn’t start her academic career knowing she wanted to teach. 

Discovering a love of teaching

During her time as an undergraduate student, Ormond worked as a chemistry intern at Inspire Pharmaceuticals, performing organic synthesis in an effort to treat glaucoma. It was her interest in this work that propelled her to Professor Emeritus Harold Freeman’s lab for her graduate program.

Ormond and Professor Harold Freeman pose for a photo after she earns her Ph.D. in Fiber and Polymer Science.

“I really thought, ‘I’m going to go to grad school, I’m going to get my Ph.D. and I’m going to go back out into the industry and do more research,’” Ormond says. “Then going through grad school, tutoring just fell into my lap and when I had to tutor that is what I looked forward to all day.”

For Ormond, tutoring built on a history of sharing her passions and knowledge with her peers. As an undergraduate student she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society, the University Scholars Program, the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists and president of Sigma Tau Sigma. She also served as the secretary of Phi Psi National Textile Fraternity with her now-husband Assistant Professor of Textile Engineering Bryan Ormond.

Sasha Ormond with her husband Bryan and their three children at a Wolfpack football game.
“Our 3-year old has Down syndrome and changes the perspective of our everyday lives for the better,” she says. “I’m not just a professional, and my personal life directly affects my professional life. Having a child with a disability makes me a better professor and helps me understand students on a more personal level.”

According to Ormond, it was this strong sense of community and support she found at the college that has propelled her to where she is today.

“I had such an amazing experience with the faculty, the students, the opportunities for networking and all the organizations I was a part of,” Ormond says. “They were so inviting and provided so much support for students.”

This support from her peers at the college led Ormond to both of her first teaching positions as adjunct faculty at Johnston Community College and Meredith College, where she was able to take her initial steps in sharing her love of textiles with a whole new generation of students.

“I get to bring my textile background to my teaching,” Ormond explains. “The big thing about textiles is that it’s applied. It’s not just generalized information, it’s both the foundations and the applications. I love it, and I think it has really helped me in my teaching role because I’m more versatile than if I was just a chemistry major.” 

Leadership in and out of the classroom

For Ormond, this versatility is an important part of her new role as a department head, where she expands on her responsibilities as a professor and tackles new challenges everyday. 

“It’s a mixture of responsibilities and every day looks different from a previous one,” she says. “But you know I don’t do it by myself. It’s a lot of communicating with the rest of the department and communicating with the dean and other department heads.” 

I had such an amazing experience with the faculty, the students, the opportunities for networking and all the organizations I was a part of.

Along with teaching, advising students and holding office hours, Ormond also serves on the tenure and promotion committee, manages scheduling for the department, and mentors students working on honors theses. 

Through the growth of her career and the expansion of her responsibilities one thing has remained consistent — her love of teaching.

Sasha and Bryan Ormond pause for a photo at their undergraduate commencement ceremony in 2007.

“It’s my favorite part,” Ormond says. “Working with students and also working with my peers. I just love that a lot.” 

Ormond hopes others can find fulfilling careers the way she has. Her advice for students is to explore all the college has to offer beyond academics. 

“Get out of your research lab,” she says. “Join a professional development program, network with people, go to conferences. There’s so much out there and you only know what you’re exposed to. If you get out there and meet people you’ll learn more and be exposed to things that will shape who you are.”