Groundbreaking of the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts, March 2014.
Mackay Steffensen (’99, Biology & Chemistry) and Mariam Chatfield Steffensen (’97, Family and Consumer Sciences) are giving back to their alma mater and community. Mackay is educating a new crop of science majors as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Southern Utah University. Mariam raises their five children and is active in the community and with the SUU Alumni Association.
Following his graduation from SUU, Mackay earned a Ph.D. from Texan A&M. He cites the education he received at SUU with helping him succeed and excel beyond other students in graduate school. “I received an excellent foundation in chemistry that allowed me to quickly matriculate in graduate school,” he says. “I quickly realized my education at SUU was unique among my cohorts. I was better prepared than most students with ‘more’ prestigious degrees and more practical experience.”
Mariam also considers her SUU education an important part of her success in life. “When I look back on my college experience what sticks out most is the life lessons I learned while traveling with the track and cross country teams,” says Mariam. “Since graduating from SUU, I have been able to work with many different people from many diverse backgrounds. I give most credit to the social interaction within the classroom and traveling with the team to accepting cultural and ethnic differences.”
Mackay specifically cites Ty Redd’s Organic Chemistry class with pushing him out of his comfort zone and requiring him to learn to think. Mariam respected and worked especially hard for Professors Artis Grady, Cindy Wright and Kay Alger.
After returning to SUU, Mackay got involved in establishing an outreach program that allows students and members of the community to experience some of the more exciting aspects of chemistry. The project is titled ‘Chemistry Madness’ and has already had almost 5000 participants. He is also involved in the Voyager Mobile Science Lab and project, which brings technology and curriculum based science activates to rural elementary schools.
Mariam volunteers as an assistant women’s cross country coach at Canyon View High School and is an active volunteer in the LDS Church working with the women of her congregation. She cites her greatest accomplishment as giving birth to 5 amazing children and supporting her husband through 11 years of schooling.
Mackay has also received numerous awards for his work in education throughout his career. He was recently named Distinguished Educator of the year at SUU in 2009 and the Department of Physical Science Outstanding Faculty Member in 2010.
The couple and their 5 children reside in Cedar City.