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Bonding over chemistry, Zachary Hund’s room has become refuge for Dania Baig

Emerson Wright

Emerson Wright

Emerson Wright

Bonding over chemistry, Zachary Hund’s room has become refuge for Dania Baig

Dania Baig nods her head to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” while completing her homework, during open time, in C331. Chemistry teacher Zachary Hund sits at the desk at the front of the room, grading papers. Once in a while they strike up conversation with each other.

From “Hey Mr. Hund, can you listen to this thesis I’m writing for an English paper?” to “What type of college would I do well at?” to “What episode of ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ are you on?”

Having a good relationship with Dr. Hund has helped Dania nurture her interest in the sciences, while Dr. Hund’s classroom has become the place she feels most comfortable at school.

Dania first had Dr. Hund for Chemistry C, where he said she didn’t seem to take the class seriously the first quarter. Dania said she originally disliked chemistry but enjoyed learning about “the theoretics behind chemistry, the history of chemistry and the people who do chemistry.” However, Dr. Hund saw a shift in her dedication when she started staying in his room to get help on and finish chemistry homework.

Dr. Hund said Dania changed her perspective and demonstrated she wanted to take chemistry seriously and show him she could do well because of her intelligence and motivation.

“So simply seeing that shift from the non-serious priority to something that seemed really important to her, that was the biggest change,” he said.

Over time, Dania showed up during other free periods, lunches and before and after school as well, since the library and cafeteria were loud and distracting. The two would talk through personal issues, such as completing college applications, or watch YouTube videos and listen to music in his room.

“He knows me quite well and I know him quite well. As a result of that, he’s able to really constructively mentor me,” Dania said. “Say I was having trouble picking out colleges, or like writing an essay, I ask him for ideas. He knows me well enough to make those judgments, and he’ll make them well and he pushes me too, because he knows that I’m very ambitious for myself, but I’m also super lazy.”

Currently, Dania is taking an independent study for the fall quarter with Dr. Hund on quantum mechanics. Seeing she was daunted by the math and science aspects of chemistry and quantum mechanics, Dr. Hund gave Dania “Alice in Quantumland,” a book which tells the story of “Alice in Wonderland” through quantum mechanics.

According to Dania, Dr. Hund has supported and encouraged her interests, whether or not they were science-related. Dr. Hund said he makes sure to not only teach material, but also to build relationships with his students to help them learn to be successful, which helps him connect with them and teach them. Being open and relatable for students is important to him.

“It’s talking about the things that students really want to talk about in terms of what they’re impressed with and what they’ve been successful with,” he said. “But then also looking at the other side which is, ‘I know there are things that are stressing you. How might I be able to just talk through with it or help you examine the burden in a different way.’”

For Dania, Dr. Hund is a friend, mentor and counselor, and she appreciates his presence — and rocking out to Queen.

She said, “He’s definitely one of my anchors at the school.”

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