#PROFspective: Bioinformatics Major Anne Marie Fernandez

Bioinformatics major Anne Marie Fernandez photographed inside Chamberlain Student Center

Name: Anne Marie Fernandez Rowan Bioinformatics major Anne Marie Fernandez posing outside of the Science Building.

Year: I would say that I’m a “super senior,” but I’m in the graduate portion of my combined BS/MS degree program.

Major: Bioinformatics

Hometown and county: Stratford, NJ (Camden County) 

On-campus resident or commuter: Commuter

Where do you live (on or off campus): I live off-campus, at home, with my parents and younger sister.

First-generation college student?: Kind of! My mother graduated with her nursing degree in the Philippines, but I’m the first in my family to go to school in the U.S. and graduate with a degree. 

Academic clubs: I am a member of the Tau Sigma Transfer Honor Society, Biology Club and Rowan University Philippine American Coalition (RUPAC).

Job on campus: I work in the Holly Pointe Commons office as a Service Assistant.

Rowan Bioinformatics major Anne Marie Fernandez sitting a computer lab with students.What inspired you to choose your major and the 4+1 program? When I was in the process of transferring to Rowan I was torn between Translational Biomedical Sciences and Bioinformatics, but the interdisciplinary aspect of bioinformatics is what won me over. 

During the spring semester of my junior year, I felt that I wasn’t prepared enough to go into the job market after my senior year and I also was interested in taking more classes. Those two reasons pushed me into applying for the 4+1 program. I was especially interested in the new biology classes that were offering in the fall at that time, which are now offered under the Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB) department. 

How does your field impact the world? What impact would you like to have on the world in your field? The field of bioinformatics has ties to several different disciplines in the scientific community. A few major ones are: biology, chemistry, computer science, information technology, mathematics and statistics. Most research is based on biological or chemical data done on a molecular level. In the biological aspect, research is usually done on genomics, proteomics, transcriptomics and metabolomics.

    Did you ever have a moment of uncertainty within your major? How did you get through the challenge? I feel that every student at one point questions whether they chose the right major, and I was definitely one of them at several points of my undergraduate career. When that happens, for me personally, it’s usually because I’m burnt out due to school and stress. To get through it, I typically take a break from my work and go over the reasons why I chose my major in the first place and recall all the great experiences I had by choosing this path, such as the people I met and made connections with and all the interesting topics I learned during the courses Anne Marie Fernandez sitting in the Student Center.I took. But the major proponent that always puts me right back on track is my family, and how I would choose bioinformatics over nursing in a heartbeat.

    What is one thing about Rowan that was a happy surprise for you? I loved the feeling/vibe the campus gave off. I’m not much of a city girl and can only withstand the busy atmosphere for short spurts of time. So, I really wanted to go to a university with a suburban feel like the community college that I attended, and Rowan ended up being the perfect fit for me. 

    Tell us about one club, organization or group of friends that make you feel like Rowan is home. I already felt comfortable with Rowan when I transferred, but what really made it feel like home were the friends I made through RUPAC (also known as PAC). The club and its members are so welcoming and lively that there’s never a dull moment at general board meetings (GBMs). 

    But the great thing about PAC is that the time spent with members is not solely isolated to club meetings. You are able to create connections on a deeper level (if you choose to do so) with them due to the time spent with them outside of GBMs just by playing games, studying together or just by talking with each other about anything and everything. The people in this organization really do create a safe space for others to flourish and be themselves and this family atmosphere is what makes Rowan feel like home to me.

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    Story and photography by:
    Alyssa Bauer, senior public relations major