Kerilyn Burrows '72
"She'll do well, as long as you keep her away from ladybugs," said Dr. Donald Shive , KeriLyn Burrows' chemistry professor. He was serving as a reference for her and referring to an incident that would define Burrows' time on campus for years to come.
One day, while performing a titration, a ladybug flew into the lab and, overcome by fumes of acetic acid, fell into her beaker contaminating her sample. This caused such a humorous moment in class and formed an attachment she would forever have with her faculty family and the College.
From a ladybug mobile hanging on the lab showerhead to a chalk image on a window panel, the legacy grew into a ladybug oil painting that now hangs in the chemistry department in Trumbower Hall. Last year, during building renovations, the painting was rescued and ceremoniously hung in the department offices.
Today, Burrows is a Move-In Day volunteer and a member of both the Class of 1972 Reunion Committee and Circle of 1848 . Her passion for chemistry was nurtured in Muhlenberg's science labs, and her unwavering support for the College's research programs keeps her close to campus.
Burrows' career in clinical instrumentation, pharmaceuticals research and manufacturing took her to Ohio, but she returned to the Lehigh Valley four years ago. Today, she is an adjunct chemistry professor at Moravian College and spends her free time engaged in activities on the Muhlenberg campus where the KeriLyn C. Burrows, Ph.D. '72 Research Fund in Honor of Donald W. Shive, Ph.D is now endowed.
Burrows took advantage of the Muhlenberg Match program and, in three years, donated her half of the newly created $200,000 endowment. "After I graduated from 'Berg in 1972, I hoped to someday be able to repay my Trustees' Scholarship, the equivalent of four years of tuition. When it seemed to be an unrealistic aspiration, I decided that I could at least provide for future Mules in my will. This had the additional benefit of being something that, once done, I could check off my to-do list!" In 2019, a rising junior or senior who is a chemistry major will receive a full summer research scholarship thanks to her generosity.
"[The scholarship] is set up in perpetuity to give a student the chance to participate in research in the chemistry department," Burrows said. "Research isn't just locking yourself in a lab. Research is interacting and having fun with what you are doing. It's all the support they need to go to a national conference to present their work."
Coming from a family of educated working women, Burrows always assumed she would go to college, and that paying for it was never an issue. Now, she says, the cost of college is a real issue. "You give to Muhlenberg simply because it's home, it's family and it's a privilege to come here. You don't want somebody else to be denied that privilege because of economics," Burrows said.
Burrows clearly remembers that day, senior year, standing on the counter painting the ladybug on the wall in chem lab and watching her professors shake their heads. What started as a joke stuck with Burrows and with Muhlenberg through the years. "I think it was the first time I was on campus after moving back to Allentown when I sat there and said to myself, 'yeah, this is home,'" she remembered. "This is my place. I support it. Hopefully we do good things for the world."