It was a strange set of coincidences for Karbara Maxey when she lined up all her academic firsts over the last several years: First graduating class from Northwest College Preparatory High School, first class of RIT’s City Scholars—even her initial look at RIT was at its first Imagine RIT: Innovation and Creativity Festival.
“It’s funny, I noticed that pattern, too,” she said. “I heard about the Rochester City Scholars program from one of my counselors. Our prep school was all about getting us to college, and we were the first graduating class so we were kind of the guinea pigs.”
The analogy may not be so far-fetched for a young woman who has always been pulled toward science. Starting at RIT four years ago meant another round of biology and chemistry, but the challenging classes were balanced by her desire for a career in a research lab.
“Growing up, I had always been all over the place when it comes to what I wanted to do—I can still be all over the place,” she said, laughing. “But science has been something I’ve always been into. There’s nothing else for me.”
This past summer, she saw firsthand how important science is during an internship at the Genesee Brewing Co. Working in its microbiology lab, she learned about the complex process of beer making, testing samples alongside the company’s quality assurance team.
Maxey has also balanced academics with campus activities, such as teaching financial literacy through RIT’s TRiO program and being a member of Unity House, a campus special interest residential house.
The ability to balance came from her parents, Susan Aldridge and Richard Maxey. Aldridge works as an aide in a developmental center for adults in the city. Her father is a certified nurse assistant by day and a musician by night. Father and daughter jam together—he plays the drums, she plays guitar.
“When Karbara started at RIT, it was scary at first and it felt like she was out of town,” Aldridge said. “But this was the point where we let her make her own decisions.”
Maxey also had a few doubts early on about doing well at RIT but in time came to see that studying and hard work were the main elements of succeeding in college. And her way of doing things is influencing others.
Maxey has set an example for her niece and nephew. “I never thought about being a role model, but it feels good knowing that I can be a person someone else looks up to. It’s important for kids to see that they can have a better future, too.”