Journalism Student Reduces the Negative Stigma of the Word “Homelessness” Through Her Blog

drone shot of Philadelphia skyline

“It’s important not to judge someone before listening to them,” says Lauren Purnell, a first-generation college senior majoring in journalism and minoring in new media from Florence, NJ (Burlington County).

Lauren used her passion for storytelling and giving a voice to the voiceless to create a blog called Naming the Homeless, where her mission is about reducing “the stigma and the negative connotations attached to the word homelessness,” by interviewing homeless individuals to share their stories.

Rowan student Lauren Purnell interviews a subject for her blog on the homeless

Lauren’s effort has led her to gain lots of support from her community, fundraising more than $1,000. Today, Lauren will share with us why she started the blog and what she has learned through the process of interviewing homeless individuals.

The idea of creating the Naming the Homeless blog came to Lauren when her Intro to Journalistic Writing professor at Rowan College at Burlington County (RCBC) explained to her class the importance in having outside work experience.

“I took that into heart and said, ‘OK, let me do a blog.’ I didn’t really know what to write about and … I didn’t want to write about myself. I was thinking about different issues that were important to me, and one of them is homelessness,” she says. 

Lauren chose to venture to Philadelphia to find people to interview (Philadelphia has become a city with one of the highest poverty ratings in the nation). Each time Lauren went she took a couple of care packages that she put together with the help of her mother (who has supported Lauren from the very beginning) going with her to Philly each week.

The first time Lauren went to Philly, it took her a while to build up the courage to ask someone for an interview. “It’s kind of uncomfortable at first because you are just asking these searching questions. You never know what they are going to say and that is the best part, because you don’t know what they are going to tell you,” she says.

Rowan student Lauren Purnell interviews a subject for her blog on the homeless

Lauren recalls one of the sweetest moments she has encountered:

“I had done my interview already for the day, but we passed an older lady and I asked her if she wanted a sandwich. She looked at me and my mom and was like ‘Thank you so much, I was having such a rough day, and this was a sign that I needed. Everything will be okay; this is my kids up in heaven telling me that it’s going to be alright and thank you so much, it really means a lot to me.”

In the beginning, Lauren made care packages that were paid out of her pocket, but as her blog grew and more people knew about her project, she started getting support and recognition. Lauren was interviewed by Fox 29 — “that got a lot of attention and I ended up having a GoFundMe, the biggest donation I got was from an organization who gave $250. Each of my care packages are like $20 so that really helped make an impact.”

Burlington County Times, Lauren’s hometown newspaper, interviewed her and gave her an internship opportunity over the summer. South Jersey Magazine did a feature of her as well. Lauren also won two awards. “At RCBC I got an award for journalism and I also got their Civility Award,” she says.

Lauren’s blog currently has over 1,200 subscriptions and over 500 likes on the Naming the Homeless Facebook page. “When I first started it, I was just doing it for personal reasons and then it took off. It was really because of my community [because] without their support I wouldn’t have been able to do it.

“Every time I leave an interview, I just want to take them home. You obviously want to see them again, but you really hope you don’t see them again because if you run into them again it means that they are probably in the same situation when you first saw them.”

Rowan student Lauren Purnell interviews a subject for her blog on the homeless

After graduating, Lauren would like to continue writing community stories and continue giving a voice to the voiceless and working her way up to investigative reporting.

Like what you see? Come visit us!


Story by:
Iridian Gonzalez, senior journalism major 

Photos courtesy of:
Lauren Purnell/Naming the Homeless

History Major Finds Her Passion for Archiving During Internship

books aligned on a book case.

Julianne at the library

Julianne reading a book at the library

Before COVID-19 social distancing, through her internship with the Historical Society of Pennsylvania this semester Julianne Tarrant was able to figure out what career path she wants to take after graduating in May. The history major from Nutley, NJ (Essex County) also minors in political science and international studies

Julianne at the library choosing a bookJulianne has always liked history, more specifically presidential history. “Their personal lives is the better part, because you learn so much about what they did in class but then you get to know more about them as people and that kind of makes a bigger picture.”

After a tour at Rowan University Julianne really liked the university, as did her mom. “My mom really pushed me to come here and I am really thankful she did that.”

Julianne started off as a history education major, but then decided to drop education and focus on history. “It was really the faculty from the history department that showed me that there was so much more I could do with history aside from teaching, which I never knew before. The faculty opened my eyes, there is so much I can do.”

Dr. Jennifer Janofsky, a professor who teaches public history courses has become one of Julianne’s mentors. Dr. Janofsky was the one who told Julianne about the Historical Society of Pennsylvania internship. “She kind of knew what I wanted to do and what my experiences were already with different internships and she was like ‘you should try the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.’”

When Julianne applied, she did not think she would get the internship Julianne reading a book at the librarybecause she though that other students from other colleges in Pennsylvania had a better chance due to them being closer. To Julianne’s surprise, after her interview within an hour she was already signing papers to start interning there. “I wouldn’t have heard about it if it wasn’t for Dr. Janofsky, I am very thankful.”  

Julianne is currently working on the Philadelphia Orphan Society collection, where she transcribes lots of documents into Excel sheets, to then use that information for the genealogy research that the Historical Society of Pennsylvania performs. Through this internship she has learned to read other people’s cursive writing much better. “It was really hard at first and now I’m starting to get the hang of it.”

Thanks to this internship Julianne said she learned that she really likes archiving and hopes to one day work at one of the presidential library museums.“There are 13 of them in the country, different presidents and just based around them. So, I definitely want to work in museums, preferably ones that relate to presidents.”

Julianne’s advice for future history majors and current history majors is to read all assigned readings. It may seem tedious reading about World War II over and over again, but it is worth it.

“And don’t just study one area of history, try to take it all in because we have a really diverse history staff so take as many classes as you can.”

Like what you see?


Story by:
Iridian Gonzalez, senior journalism major 

Jalen Shares 3 Things He Likes about Living in Mimosa Hall

mimosa hall outside in spring.

students at mimosa lounge

Meet Jalen Rushton, a freshman Music Industry major from the College of Performing Arts. Jalen grew up in Columbus, Ohio but moved to Middletown, Delaware (New Castle County). He may be far from home, but Mimosa Hall has made his experience at Rowan University much more comforting. Today, he will share with us his three favorite things about living in Mimosa Hall.

jalen in front of his dorm room1. The Community in Mimosa

“I love how everyone is really accepting of each other, it’s like a small community. I’ve gotten used to the people here.”

Jalen has made many friends throughout his freshman year while staying at Mimosa. He mentioned that everyone on his floor knows each other and that they all help each other when the help is needed.   

 2. The Lounge AreaJalen playing piano

The lounge area in Mimosa has become one of Jalen’s favorite spots to hang around with his friends.

“Sometimes I do homework, sometimes we play ping pong and sometimes I play the broken piano.”

 3. The Location

“Mimosa is in the middle of campus, so if you don’t want to be at Mimosa you can go to the Rec Center or the Student Center or the Campbell Library, they are all literally next to us. The courts, the fields are right there too, I think Mimosa has the best location.”

Like what you see? Learn more about housing!


Story by:
Iridian Gonzalez, senior journalism major 
Rachel Rumsby, freshman public relations major

Learn How This Transfer Student Graduated Debt Free

The top of Bunce Hall on a sunny day.

Rowan alumna and transfer student Natalia P. graduated debt free.Meet Natalia Panfilova, a 2017 graduate from the Ric Edelman College of Communication & Creative Arts. Natalia earned her bachelor’s in Public Relations without paying a single dollar for her degree.

According to Marketplace, roughly 70% of American students end up taking out loans to go to college. It was estimated that the average student leaves school with around $30,000 in debt. Not Natalia, though, and today she will share with us how this transfer student managed to graduate debt free.

Community College

Before coming to Rowan, Natalia went to Camden County College. She chose to attend community college because she knew she would save up more money that way. According to Saving for College, “Students can save as much as $30,000 or more by attending a community college instead of a private four-year college.” During community college, Natalia worked in full-time jobs that were taking care of her tuition payments. Also, during community college, one of Natalia’s friends told her to work with her at one of the Wyndham hotel chains in Atlantic City because the hotel chain would cover a part of her tuition. This opportunity was one of the reasons she managed to graduate debt free.

Tuition Reimbursement Jobs

Wyndham is one of many organizations that offer tuition reimbursements. Tuition reimbursement is when a company agrees to help pay for an employee to further his or her education. “All you have to do is prove that you can somehow apply your career skills to your job,” Natalia says. Natalia also received financial aid, but whatever was not covered by her job took care of it. “They would cover up my books and they would cover up to $4,000 per year. So, I actually didn’t pay anything out of pocket. I got to keep my salary, because I was a commuter,” Natalia says.

Natalia in front of the ccca sign.Commuter

When Natalia was at Rowan, she chose not to stay on campus and decided to commute from Brigantine, NJ (Atlantic County). She commuted an hour each day, but because she commuted and was able to schedule her classes in two days, she was able to work full time at the hotel.

She recommends students learn about finances: “Educate yourself in all things financial, the more you know the better. Just in life in general, if you know how debt works, how banks work, your life is going to be so much easier.”  

What is Natalia Doing Now?

Rowan alum Natalia visiting a friend in Minsk, Belarus.
Natalia visiting a friend in Minsk, Belarus

Natalia recently moved to New York City for her new position as a program marketing manager for WebMD. By being savvy with her spending, she was able to graduate debt free and become a homeowner. Graduating debt free allowed Natalia to travel worry-free and so far, she has visited 13 countries.

Like what you see? Learn more about becoming a Rowan transfer student!


Story by:
Iridian Gonzalez, senior journalism major

Photos courtesy of:
Natalia Panfilova

A First-Gen Radio/TV/Film Major Starts Up Company, Joins Town Government

Jamal sitting in the library with a green beanie on.

Meet Jamal McPherson from Swedesboro, NJ (Gloucester County), a junior majoring in Radio/TV/ Film (RTF) at the Ric Edelman College of Communication & Creative Arts. Jamal is a first-generation college student who loves to get involved in the community and try new things. Last year, he was appointed to the town board committee in Swedesboro. Today, he will share with us his journey to getting appointed and his experience so far at Rowan University.

Before coming to Rowan, Jamal first attended Salisbury University in Maryland, where he was a political science major and football player. Jamal has always had a passion for video production, so at Salisbury he joined their sports media production team, but eventually decided to transfer.

RTF student sitting outside the library “What I was looking for was not at Salisbury, Maryland. Don’t get me wrong — I had a great time, but sometimes having a great time doesn’t mean you’re being productive,” Jamal says.

When Jamal decided to transfer to Rowan, he also switched majors. “My dad used to wrestle professionally in his day, that is why I’ve always had an interest in sports entertainment,” he adds.

While being back in his hometown, he saw a few vacancies in the board committee. He decided to apply, and he got the job. He is currently a member of the Parks & Recreation Committee and Economic Development Committee.

“I looked at the requirements and I emailed them saying I had great ideas. I joined last year, and I took an oath of office … They are a great group of mentors and they understand that school is first.”

Being a part of the committee is a four-year commitment; after Jamal’s contract is over, he isn’t sure if he will continue pursuing government committee positions. He recently started his own company called Aniville, where he plans concerts and festivals.Getting ready for the show

“Right now, I do concerts for my company Aniville, that’s what I’ve been working on lately.  I had a show in the Pfleeger Concert Hall in October, called ‘Aniville Jam’ and I had a show in Philadelphia over the summer too, it went pretty well. After the show it opened a few doors for me.”        

Jamal thinks Rowan does a great job in making sure everyone brings their A-game wherever they go, and he thinks the staff at Rowan University are exceptional.

“I love Rowan,” Jamal says.

Like what you see, come visit us!


Story by:
Iridian Gonzalez, senior journalism major

Iridian Shares 3 Ways She’s Gotten Involved as a Transfer

After completing two years at Atlantic Cape Community College, I decided to transfer over to Rowan University to get my bachelor’s in Journalism. Transferring over to a new school can be both exciting and intimidating. You’ll get to create new memories, meet new people and experience new opportunities.Student portrait of Journalism major Iridian outside on Rowan's campus

At community college I was involved in many extracurricular activities, like being part of the communication club and assistant editor for the Atlantic Cape Review. For me, getting involved has always been important. It improves leadership and interpersonal skills, but most importantly, it gives students practical experience.

When I first transferred to Rowan, I did not know anyone, but I immediately felt welcomed by all my professors and classmates. I knew I wanted to get involved and create new memories, just like I did at my community college.

I started asking other students what they were involved in, and I checked Rowan’s Student Organization Services page, where I found clubs and organizations that caught my attention. There are many ways to get involved — you’ve just got to be open to new experiences and opportunities.

Here are three ways I’ve gotten involved as a transfer student and commuter.Copies of The Whit, Rowan's student newspaper where Journalism major Iridian works as a copy editor

  1. Joined The Whit,The Campus Newspaper: As mentioned earlier, I am majoring in Journalism; for me, getting outside the classroom experience is extremely important. By joining The Whit, I got to meet the most amazing group of people. I created new friendships that I know will last forever and help each other out even after college. Aside from making friends, this past fall I got elected to become one of the copy editors for the paper. It’s all about being open to new opportunities.A screenshot of Rowan Blog's main page featuring one of Journalism major Iridian's stories
  2. Became a content writer for Rowan’s blog: By becoming a writer and working for the Admissions office, I have gotten the chance not only to work on my craft, but meet so many people, from students, to faculty and alumni. Now I walk through campus seeing familiar faces all the time, from interviewing so many people, and that feels amazing.
  3. Attended campus events: One thing I really like about Rowan is that there are always events going on. I like to say that there is an event for everyone here at Rowan. If you are interested in art there are events at the Art Gallery in 301 High St. There are many lectures you can attend, and many special guests are brought in as well. One way I check to see for upcoming events is by checking an email announcer we all get in the morning.

Journalism major Iridian sits outside on Rowan's campusThese are just three ways how I have gotten involved here at Rowan, but there are so many other ways to get involved. It’s all about being open to new experiences and being OK with getting out of your comfort zone.

Like what you see? Come visit us!


Story by:
Iridian Gonzalez, senior journalism major

First Year Voices: An Entrepreneurship Major Prepares to Launch a Lip Gloss Line

Exterior shot of the Rohrer College of Business

student portraitMeet Anjeliah Williams, a freshman majoring in Entrepreneurship, who also attended the Pre-College Institute (PCI) this summer. Anjeliah is from Sicklerville, NJ (Camden County), and she’s about to launch her own lip gloss line called “Anjel Allure.”

Anjeliah decided to major in entrepreneurship because growing up she did not know what she wanted to do but knew she did not like to work for others. 

“I realized I wanted be my own boss and I thought entrepreneurship was a great major,” she says.

Anjeliah plans on opening other businesses in the future. “Later on in life, I want to own other small businesses like a coffee shop, a tattoo shop and a nail salon,” she adds.

Student Portrait“Don’t listen to people who are trying to put your idea down,” Anjeliah says. “They might say that it’s a horrible idea or it’s too much money, but If you keep a growth mindset and not a fixed mindset, then you can literally do anything.”

Like what you see? Come visit us!


Story by:
Iridian Gonzalez, senior journalism major 

Where is He Now? Computer and Electrical Engineering Grad Becomes COO

Twilight exterior shot of Rowan Hall

College of Engineering alumnus Ken Whelan at his job at ESS

Meet Kenneth Whelan, a 2002- and third-class graduate from the Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering. Kenneth is the chief operating officer (COO) of Engineered Security Systems, one of the top 100 security integrators in the country. Today, he will share with us his journey, from picking Rowan University to becoming COO.

What inspired you to go into engineering?

My cousin, who is also my godmother, graduated from NJIT (New Jersey Institute of Technology) in engineering when I was 8 years old. I thought it was really cool to know what an engineer actually does. As I got older, I got into computers, so I kind of put them together and got into electrical and computer engineering.

How did you know Rowan University was for you?

Nighttime exterior shot of Rowan HallWhen I was looking at colleges, I really thought I was going to go to NJIT like my godmother. I went to two NJIT open houses and two open houses for Rowan. NJIT was a nice sunny day, nice weather, and it still didn’t feel like home. When I went down to Rowan, it was cold, windy and rainy, and yet it still felt like home. I went with Rowan because even on a day like that, it seemed like a nice place to be.

How did Rowan University impact your life?

I was very shy and not outgoing. Between the classes and student community, I really got out of my shell. Every class in the engineering department had a presentation we had to do and work in groups. It really taught me to work with other people and be able to stand up and present what I’ve done and really advocate for myself. I was also active in the electrical engineering society.

I learned to round myself, and it really helped me out in my career. I went from just being an engineer when I first got out to now being COO for a nationwide security company. I really attribute everything Rowan taught me to get here. 

Can you tell us more about Engineered Security Systems and your role in the company?

It’s a family-run company, and it was founded in 1971. I’m the first person to be leading it who is not part of the family. We do electronic security like access control, fire alarm systems, burglar alarm systems for businesses, colleges and hospitals. We do very high-end systems that are customized for each client.

Interior shot of a College of Engineering banner inside Rowan HallIn the morning I first come in and talk with the engineering department, I ask what they’re working on and what products are coming down the pike. As the day goes on, I spend time with the operations department. Same thing, I ask what they’re working on, what service call popped up. And I also check in with our sensor monitoring center to see how everything is going and how our clients are doing. As the afternoon goes along, I have meetings and conference calls with our clients and vendors. And I kind of spend my time rotating around all functions of the business.

Any advice for students interested or who are currently pursuing a degree in engineering?

Try to get involved in as much as you can. Don’t try to do just one type of project with engineering projects. Get involved in student organizations on campus and definitely get out of your comfort zone. Join something you don’t think you’ll enjoy — whether it is a fraternity, sorority or some other activity group — just to broaden your horizons and meet people who are not in your major.

Like what you see, come visit us!


Story by:
Iridian Gonzalez, senior journalism major

Photo courtesy of:
Kenneth Whelan

Smaller Classes, Industry Connections Set Biochemistry Grad Jennifer Chin up for Success

Jennifer Chin biochem major sitting outside Barnes and Nobles

Meet Jennifer Chin, a 2015 graduate from the College of Science & Mathematics. She is from Clarksboro, NJ (Gloucester County) and works for FMC Corporation, an agricultural sciences company, as an associate scientist doing formulations. Today, she will share with us her journey from her Rowan University experience to her work at FMC. 

What inspired you to major in BioChem?Rowan alumna Jennifer Chin, a biochemistry major, sitting outside on a bench on Rowan Boulevard

Initially when I started, I was pursuing teaching math. As I took courses, I felt like I needed something more. Then I switched to bio and then after that I was like, ‘I think this is OK.’

Then I saw biochemistry and said, ‘Wow, this is interesting.’ I switched to BioChem and I really loved it. I feel like at Rowan especially when I was here, it was much more chemistry based for biochemistry, which I really enjoyed and liked.

Why did you choose Rowan University?

I chose to come to Rowan because they offered smaller classes. I could get more information, it was more one-on-one. I know that for [larger schools] they have massive classes and I felt like I would have drowned, especially when I was first starting out because of my personality. I wanted something smaller, I didn’t want to get overwhelmed.

How has Rowan University impacted your life?

Rowan has given me more exposure — meaning, the people I have been connecting with, networking. When I was here at Rowan, I was under [Dr. Gregory] Caputo, he was my research adviser. It was my junior and senior year that I was in his research lab. In his research lab there were other students, and we all got really close. After college we all diversified, but we are still constantly learning from each other and meet up. Every person has their own industry experiences and we all talk about science. So, now post-college I still have all those connections and networks and still count with them.

Rowan alumna Jennifer Chin takes a selfie with Dr. Gregory Caputo
Rowan alumna Jennifer Chin with Associate Dean Dr. Gregory Caputo.

How has Dr. Caputo impacted you?

I can’t even begin to say how much he has helped me. I think Dr. Caputo was my very first instance of how the industry actually works because there is a huge difference between academics and industry. By being in his lab, you get exposed to experiments that aren’t always going to work out 100% of the time, like they are supposed to. And I think that really helped me realize what to actually expect and to have that scientific mind of going through the process.

How well do you think Rowan prepared you to go into the industry?

I would say it prepared me in terms of knowing how to do research or how to figure out an answer. Academically it did prepare me for basic knowledge, but when you go out in the industry is a lot of how you figure out how you’re going to figure it out. So, I think Rowan helped me by knowing how to research a problem and how to figure it out.

What are you currently doing?

I work at FMC, and it’s an agricultural company. We make crop protection products like fungicide, insecticides and herbicides. Graduating college agriculture was nowhere on my list, I didn’t even know it was a thing. But then I got hired for a temporary position and I was under formulations. I got exposed to a lot of chemistry formulations and I absolutely fell in love with it.

What I tell a lot of people is yes, you want to enjoy your work, but find an environment where you are comfortable with the culture. It’s the people you work with and I feel like any job is 70% the people and 30% the job.

As a formulation chemist, what does your daily routine look like?Rowan alumna Jennifer Chin working at FMC

Recently, it has been going in really early, but it depends how much chaos happens during the day. The earliest I’ve gotten in, has been between 5:30 and 6 a.m. There have been times where I have been doing 80 to 90 hours a week. That is why you have to love what your doing.

My day consists of going in and checking emails, then I stay at the lab from sun up to sun down trying to get lots of things done. There’s formulation making, then physicals are performed on them, to see if they actually turned out the way you wanted them to be.

What is your favorite thing about Rowan or your favorite experience?

The people, and I think what I really loved was my research group. I would definitely recommend it to new students of biology and chemistry to join a research group, because that definitely has helped me a lot in the industry and it’s just great exposure to science.       

Like what you see, come visit us!


Story by:
Iridian Gonzalez, senior journalism major

#PROFspective: From The Republic of The Gambia to Rowan University

Mary Gomez, an international student and Community Health major, stands inside the Chamberlain Student Center

Mary Gomez, an international student and Community Health major, stands inside the Chamberlain Student Center

Meet Mary Gomez, an international freshman student from The Republic of The Gambia. This is her second semester at Rowan University. She is currently majoring in Community Health from the School of Health Professions. Today she will share with us her experience on becoming an international student and how Rowan has become her second home.

Name: Mary Gomez           Mary Gomez, an international student and Community Health major, sits outside the Chamberlain Student Center

Major: Community Health

Year: Freshman

Hometown: Washington Township

Resident: Triad

Academic clubs: African Student Association, Leadership Rowan and Public Health.

As an international student, where are you coming from? I’m from The Republic of The Gambia. We call it the smiling coast of Africa.   

How did you hear about Rowan? My uncle works here, Dr. Banutu-Gomez, he’s a business professor. Last year, I was kind of confused on which schools to look into, and my mom was like ‘Oh, your uncle works at Rowan.’ He told us about Rowan, and then I started the application process.

Why did you choose to come to Rowan? First, I chose to come to Rowan because the application process was so easy to fill out. Other schools can be complicated and hard to know where to find information. Sometimes, you have to call 10 times just to talk to someone. But here, the application process was so easy to do. Every information I needed was online, like literally everything.     

As an international student, you can imagine I can’t keep calling every time. They [Rowan] had the live chat right there, so I could talk to pretty much anyone. It’s pretty expensive to call from an international phone number to the U.S. so the live chat was perfect, and the people were so nice from the international center. I was like, ‘This is definitely the right school for me.’

Mary Gomez, an international student and Community Health major, stands inside the Chamberlain Student CenterWhat else caught your attention about Rowan? The school was pretty diverse. I’m from Africa and in Africa we always treat each other like family, and we are all about feeling welcomed. So, I wanted to be in a place where people were welcoming and where I wouldn’t feel left out.

Also, I’m a twin. So, I was looking for a school that had both majors we wanted. A major that would go into biochemistry for my sister and public health for me.

Tell us about one moment that made you feel like Rowan was the right fit for you. After I applied to Rowan and came here, I didn’t have any friends at all. But I got enrolled in this class called Rowan 101 and my professor was Jessica Syed. She basically made me fall in love with this school. In the class we had to go to five events and write about them. When I started going to these events, I got to meet so many people. And Professor Syed got people from the Rowan Leadership program to come talk to the class and from then I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is the correct school for me,’ because I’m all about leadership and public speaking. And that’s when I knew Rowan was for me. I recommend any student that comes here to take Rowan 101.

Favorite thing about Rowan? One thing I like about Rowan is that you can go to any event, and if you Mary and two students sit on a pink chairdon’t know anyone at the event you come back knowing about 10 people. There was one time I went to this event, I think the African Student Association hosted it, I didn’t know anyone — at the end of the day I knew like 10 different people. I didn’t feel like an international student anymore. Everyone is included here; all the opportunities are for everyone.         

What’s your biggest life goal? Since I’m studying public health, my biggest life goal is to be able to change the healthcare system in my country. I want an institution where no one has to say ‘I’m not going to the hospital because I don’t have money.’ I don’t want money to be the reason why people don’t have access to healthcare. Afterwards, I want to go into global health and probably work with the United Nations and improve the healthcare system at large, so after helping my country I want to go bigger.

Any advice for international students? I would tell them not to be afraid to ask questions. That’s one limitation I used to have during my first weeks. I used to worry about what people would think if I was asking a question, but don’t be afraid to ask questions, ask as many questions as you can. And for your accent, don’t let your accent be a barrier and don’t ever worry about how you speak. Nobody really cares, as far as you can get your information out there.

Like what you see, come visit us!


Story by:
Iridian Gonzalez, senior journalism major

#PROFspective: Molecular and Cellular Biology Major Amaal Khan

Molecular and cellular biology major Amaal Khan sits outside on a bench

Meet Amaal Khan, a sophomore enrolled in the BS/MD program through CMSRU who is majoring in Molecular and Cellular Biology. She is from Moorestown, NJ (Burlington County) and lives on Rowan Boulevard. Amaal will share her #PROFspective with us on what it’s like to be enrolled in the BS/MD program and how she’s getting the most out of her college experience as a Rowan Prof.  

Name: Amaal KhanMolecular and cellular biology major Amaal Khan sitting and reading a book at Rowan Barnes and Noble

Year: Sophomore

Major: Molecular and Cellular Biology

Hometown: Moorestown, NJ (Burlington County)

On Campus or Commuter? Lives on Rowan Boulevard

Academic clubs? Rowan Pre-Health Society

Social Clubs? Rowan University of Philippine American coalition (RU PAC) and Rowan Rangeela

Why did you decide to major in Molecular and Cellular Biology? Molecular and Cellular Biology seemed like a different major, it wasn’t something I saw in a lot of schools and the curriculum involved other classes that reached other subject areas. It’s a different experience, because I just didn’t want to be with STEM majors, I wanted to be with people who were outside of wanting to be doctors. Currently I’m taking bioinformatics and that’s with a lot of bioinformatics majors, so I get different aspects of programming. A little bit of statistics and a little bit of engineering, so it’s a much more variable major.

Where do you see yourself in eight years? I know I will be a doctor, but I don’t think I want to work in a hospital. I do think I want to do research for a few years and maybe get a Ph.D., then probably work in a private practice, somewhere underprivileged … areas where it’s a little more difficult for people to get inexpensive healthcare.

amaal sitting outside of barnes and nobleWhat would you share with a future student interested in your major? I would tell them that Molecular and Cellular Biology is definitely a little harder than regular biology, because the engineering base classes, or statistics-based classes, are harder than the classes that biology students take. I would say that you get a better variety of subjects, you get to learn so many other things than what a regular bio major does. If you are looking to branch out in college in your education, but not to an extreme degree and if you don’t have enough time to take on a minor then taking a major where you have some flexibility in your classes is really good. If you want to experience something else besides regular science classes, then you should try Molecular and Cellular Biology.

Would you recommend someone to do the BS/MD program? Definitely, only if you are set on being a doctor. This is my career path, so it makes sense in saving a year of college. I know I want to be a doctor, but if you’re in this program you should be sure you’re going to be a doctor; otherwise you just waste your time.

Amaal Khan looking through books at Barnes and NobleHow does your field impact the world? It’s very research based A lot of my professors that teach my classes actually do research, like cancer research, different blood pathogens research, different diseases research. There’s a lot of research that goes into it.

What impact would you like to have on the world in your field? I definitely want to work in an area with underprivileged people or low-income people. Where I can provide healthcare for them at an inexpensive cost, because I know that is super difficult nowadays. I don’t think I’ll ever find the cure for cancer, but I do want to help study diseases, [to] try to find the best diet that is safe for people with diabetes, since that runs in my family. Bettering the quality of life — that’s the impact I want to have.  

Like what you see, come visit us!


Story by:
Iridian Gonzalez, senior journalism major

A Leader in Rowan’s First-Year Connection: Volunteerism Program

Amanda Yannarella, a Biomedical Engineering major, was a student leader this summer in the First-Year Connection: Volunteerism Program.

Amanda Yannarella, a Biomedical Engineering major, was a student leader this summer in the First-Year Connection: Volunteerism Program.

Meet Amanda Yannarella, a sophomore majoring in Biomedical Engineering from Burlington Township, NJ (Burlington County). This summer, Amanda became a student leader for this year’s Rowan’s First-Year Connection: Volunteerism Program. Today she will share with us her experience in the program and what she’s learned from being a student leader.

Why did you decide to join Rowan’s First-Year Connection program?

“Last year as a freshman, I wanted to get acclimated to campus and wanted to start of my year well by volunteering.Amanda Yannarella, a Biomedical Engineering major, was a student leader this summer in the First-Year Connection: Volunteerism Program. I volunteered a lot in high school, too. I was in Key Club, so I did a lot of volunteering then and I wanted to continue here. I was a leader this year because I loved it so much my freshman year. I wanted to do it again and have a positive impact on the incoming first-year students, because that was really important to me.”

What kind of activities did you do?

“We went to the Food Bank of South Jersey and we helped sort all the donations they had into proteins, soups and grains. Two people went into the bakery to bake muffins, so that was really cool. We also helped with the Saint Bernard’s [disaster relief] Project, which is similar to Habitat for Humanity, in which I am also involved in. We went to someone’s house that was damaged by Hurricane Sandy and we helped fix up their house. We did flooring, drywall, spackling and hurricane clips, which is supposed to help the roof stay on with strong winds.

“Then we helped with the Little Owls Preschool at Rowan. We were cleaning their classrooms to prepare for the school year. It took us about two hours, which would have taken all the Little Owl teachers all day. Then we did SAIL Bowling Night; they do activities for adults on the autism spectrum. We had a great time bowling with them and making conversations — just hanging out and having fun, but it was important because I feel like we were making everyone’s day better. I’m not good at bowling, but still had a good time.”

Amanda Yannarella, a Biomedical Engineering major, was a student leader this summer in the First-Year Connection: Volunteerism Program. What was your favorite activity?

“The Saint Bernard’s Project was my favorite because you learn skills that I feel you can transfer to your own house. Now I know how to put in hardwood flooring, and that’s pretty cool.”

What knowledge or skills have you developed through this program?

“When we went to the food bank [someone] told us the amount of food we sorted, which was a lot, was between 2,000 to 5,000 pounds. The guy was like, ‘Congratulations guys, you really helped us out, but there are still families going to bed hungry tonight. And even though we worked so hard there is still a lot of work to be done.’ Then you’re like, ‘Wait what? I just did this whole work and you’re telling me that there’s more?’ It’s kind of eye opening. That is why I like doing stuff like that because you get impacted and it’s good to get reminded with that kind of stuff. And as a leader I learned leadership skills, like learning to communicate. I use to hate talking. I was so quiet when I was younger, but this actually helped me get more comfortable talking to bigger groups of people.”

What did being a leader for Rowan’s First-Year Connection program mean to you?

“I liked being able to have an impact on incoming students and setting them off into a positive way. We were focusing on the volunteering stuff all week and the importance of that, but we were also getting them ready for campus. And it just meant a lot to get that kind of leadership experience under my belt.”

Like what you see, come visit us!


Story by:
Iridian Gonzalez, senior journalism major

Beyond the Classroom: Interning in Israel

Junior Biochemistry major Alyssa Salera, who interned in Isreal in summer 2019, is photographed outside of the Barnes and Noble

Meet Alyssa Salera, a junior from East Greenwich, NJ (Gloucester County) majoring in Biochemistry from the College of Science & Mathematics. This summer, Alyssa interned in Israel at a rehabilitation hospital, where she worked closely with physical therapists and patients. Today, she will share with us her experience abroad.

Where did you intern this summer?

Rowan Biochemistry major Alyssa Salera (bottom row, second from right) in the Israel clinic
Alyssa (bottom row, second from right) at her internship this summer at the Herzog Hospital in Jerusalem, Israel.

“The hospital is called Herzog Hospital and it’s in Jerusalem, Israel. It’s a rehabilitation hospital.”

How did you hear about this internship?

“I went to Israel last summer on a trip called ‘Birthright.’ I was at Barnes and Noble getting coffee with the on-campus Rebbetzin [a rabbi’s wife or a teacher], and we talked about ways on how I could go back to Israel. I told her that I want to go to PA (physician’s assistant) school or med school one day, and she told me about this program that would get me back to Israel and they would set me up with an internship where I could be in a hospital and get both things that I wanted.”

What’s the name of the program, and how was it structured?

“The program is called ‘Onward IsraeLinks,’ and it is a mixture of an internship component and also with that a learning portion. We had a Rabbi and Rebbetzin on the trip with us, who were from Georgia and who taught us in the first 10 days. We talked about what you’re supposed to believe as a Jew and how that translates to life now and modern society. And the last six weeks was just straight internship.”

What kind of things did you do at the rehabilitation hospital?

Rowan Biochemistry major Alyssa Salera taking a selfie with another intern at Herzog Hospital in Jerusalem
Alyssa Salera (at left) with another intern at Herzog Hospital in Jerusalem.

“I worked with a lot of chiropractic patients, who had just had strokes, and I worked with a lot of kids who were in the ICU. With the chiropractic patients, we worked on getting  them started to being able to sit up on their own, to stand up and to walk with our assistance.

There were a few patients, but one in particular, she could barely open her eyes on her own when I first got there; by the end we were able to have her walking on her own with a walker. There was another patient I worked really closely with and he again on my first day in the hospital could barely lift his legs. I worked with him and the physical therapist to have him standing. And on my own we did our own stretches together and exercises. I got to choose pretty much what I wanted to do with him and by the end of the summer he got his red dot, meaning that he can walk on his own with his walker unassisted. So, I was just an extra set of hands, I would get to help them with different sections.”

What did you learn or gain from your internship in Israel?

“It Is really hard to communicate with people who don’t speak the same language as you, and I know very little Hebrew, so it really helped me gain a greater appreciation for working with people who come from all diverse backgrounds and who don’t have the same story as I do. And it just really taught me a lot about confidence in what I’m doing and in that this is what I want to do with my life.”

What’s one memory you will always remember from interning at the hospital?

“That one patient who got his red dot saying that he could walk. I was the one to give him his red dot, because I worked with him every single day over the summer and just watching him barely being able to move his legs and then being able to walk on his own, that was incredible.”

Alyssa in Israel standing in front of a waterfall with a friend
Alyssa standing in front of an Israeli waterfall with a friend.

Like what you see, come visit us!


Story by:
Iridian Gonzalez, senior journalism major

Beyond the Classroom: A Leader in Rowan’s First-Year Connection Program

First-Year Volunteer Connection student leader Rose Dickmann (center, in green) helps out at the St. Bernard's disaster relief project.

Meet Rose Dickmann from Mount Laurel, NJ (Burlington County), a transfer student from Rowan College at Burlington County (RCBC) who is majoring in Supply Chain and Logistics at the Rohrer College of Business. Rose was a student leader for this year’s Rowan’s First-Year Connection: Volunteerism Program. Today she will share with us her experience in the program and what she’s learned from being a student leader.

First-Year Volunteer Connection student leader Rose Dickmann looks on during her summer volunteer experience. Every year entering students (freshmen and transfers) who have registered for the program arrive early on-campus for the Fall semester and participate in group activities run by Rowan’s staff members and upper-class student leaders.

In 2018, Rose decided to join the Rowan’s First-Year Connection Program to meet new people. She had just transferred from RCBC and saw that the program was an excellent way not only to meet new people, but to help in the community. “That’s one reason I was attracted to the program, because it was something different and interesting,” she said.

Rose had a great time last year as one of the participants in the program and she decided to return this year, but as a student leader. “I loved the program so much last year, that I wanted to make it a good time for this year’s new students,” Rose said.

First-Year Volunteer Connection student leader Rose Dickmann helps out at the St. Bernard's disaster relief project. This year there were four student leaders and they all had to work together in planning different types of activities for the participants to do during their free time. “We put together a scavenger hunt and some games,” she said.

The leaders had responsibilities to accomplish throughout the one-week program, like coordinating trips and arranging breakfast and dinner in between their service projects.

Some of the service projects that the student leaders and participants got a chance to volunteer at this year were: Food Bank of South Jersey, Saint Bernard’s Project for disaster relief, Little Owls Preschool at Rowan, Salem County Humane Society and the Ronald McDonald House Southern New Jersey. 

The Little Owls project was one of Rose’s favorite places to volunteer. The Rowan Preschool is in James Hall. “We went in and cleaned their two classrooms. We helped them out with their deep clean day. Once we finished just about everything was all ready for them,” she said. 

For Rose, being one of the student leaders for Rowan’s First-Year Connection Program is important. “To me personally it’s an opportunity to make students feel welcome on campus and to encourage them to get involved in volunteerism, to get involved just in general on campus and to make sure their transition to college is as smooth as it can be,” she said

First-Year Volunteer Connection student leader Rose Dickmann helps out at the St. Bernard's disaster relief project. Being a student leader has taught Rose to work along with other fellow leaders, bounce off ideas from one another and how to make plans in a group where everyone agrees.

“I really loved getting to know my fellow leaders more and getting to know the participants,” Rose said.

Like what you see, come visit us!


Story by:
Iridian Gonzalez, senior journalism major

Beyond the Classroom: a Biophysics Lab Experience

Gaspare Carollo, a biophysics major from Marlton, NJ, conducts research at his summer research internship at Rowan.

Meet Gaspare Carollo, a senior from Marlton, NJ (Burlington County) majoring in Biophysics from the College of Science & Mathematics. This summer, he was able to partake in an research internship at Rowan. Today, he will share with us his experience working at the lab and some of the projects he worked on.

Gaspare Carollo, a biophysics major from Marlton, NJ, conducts research at his summer research internship at Rowan. Gaspare is a transfer student from Rowan College at Burlington County (RCBC). He earned his associate degree in Chemical Engineering and now plans to get his bachelor’s in Biophysics.

“Biophysics is a combination of many sciences — biology and physics for the majority. It looks at things on a molecular level. And it takes the physics on what’s going on, why is it happening and you kind of figure out why and how things work,” Gaspare said.

After talking to Dr. Nathaniel Nucci, assistant professor from the departments of Biomedical & Translational Sciences and Physics & Astronomy about the different summer programs he was looking into, Dr. Nucci told him about the summer internship offered at Rowan.Gaspare Carollo, a biophysics major from Marlton, NJ, works at his summer research internship at Rowan.

“I told him I was a senior and hopefully going into the workforce soon. I was just trying to get my foot in the door and get hands-on experience because you can get all the A’s and B’s you want and have a 3.3 or 3.6 GPA, but without the hands-on experience you’re going to go onto the working field lacking,” he explained.

This summer, Gaspare got the chance to work on two projects. The first project had to do with purifying proteins, which Gaspare explained it as:

“One of the things about the protein purification that we’ve done is that they fluoresce. It’s one of those things we do for bioimaging. If we want to know where this medicine is going or where this disease or tumor is located, you inject the patient with a particular protein that we know fluoresces at a certain wavelength or fluoresces at a certain light. Basically, the thing you want to see will glow, and that is the whole point of the proteins we are looking at. There are many other reasons for purifying proteins, but that’s the one we were looking into.” 

The second project Gaspare worked on had to do with quantum dots. Quantum dots are used in a lot of electronics and medical issues. “What we are trying to do is find a better, more feasible way to find quantum dots,” Gaspare said. “They are made in high pressure and high temperatures, which is very expensive and dangerous, and we’re trying to find a way to make them in room temperature and atmospheric pressures.”

Gaspare Carollo, a biophysics major from Marlton, NJ, works at his summer research internship at Rowan. Gaspare is doing his work under a hood at regular temperature and regular pressure, because it’s much safer and financially achievable for most labs.

“If we can perfect and control the size of quantum dots then we can control what kind light it fluoresces and from there fabrications are all over the place,” he said.

Gaspare would like to do research and development after he graduates. He would love to be part of a team that would eventually come up with something to make a difference in the way people are medically treated. He says, “What if we can do chemo where it doesn’t hurt the individual, what if we can do chemo where it only hurts the tumor and doesn’t make them sick? To be a part of something like that and make a difference would be amazing and to be a part of that would be a dream.”

Gaspare’s advice for anyone wanting to major in Biophysics is to not expect an easy ride, but if you are willing to put in the time and the effort then the outcome and final result will all be worth it.

Like what you see, come visit us!


Story by:
Iridian Gonzalez, senior journalism major

Future Pediatrician Shares Her Summer Lab Experience At Rowan

Alyssa Sanders a tbs major in lab room

Translational biomedical science major Alyssa Sanders in her summer lab experience internship

Meet Alyssa Sanders, a rising junior from Pitman (Gloucester County) majoring in Translational Biomedical Science (TBS) from the College of Science & Mathematics. This summer, she was able to take an internship offered at Rowan where she got the chance to do research on many projects, one of which was called The Drug Delivery Project.

“Some people put [TBS] as an advanced biology degree. So, you’re basically taking what you learn in the classrooms and then applying it to research,” Alyssa said.

According to Alyssa, a TBS major needs to take 12 credits of research hours to be able to graduate. With a bachelor’s in TBS there are many things a person can do. “We can go on to getting our Ph.D., go to med school or go right into the working field and become a research assistant,” she said.

Translational biomedical science major Alyssa Sanders in her summer lab experience internshipAlyssa will become the first doctor in her family; both her parents chose different careers outside of the medical field. “I really want to become a doctor, so I liked how it [the TBS major] kind of had a built-in premed track. I want to be a pediatrician,” she said.

This summer, Alyssa worked alongside Dr. Nathaniel Nucci, assistant professor from the departments of Biomedical & Translational Sciences and Physics & Astronomy. “What I did mainly over the summer was purified proteins,” Alyssa said. “So, we purified red fluorescent proteins (RFP), that way we can use it during the school year since purifying protein is very time consuming.”

The Drug Delivery Project was one of the many projects Sanders did research for this summer. For this project, purifying RFP was the goal. “For The Drug Delivery Project, we are trying to find out a new way to deliver drugs to the body. Sometimes proteins are too big, or they are hydrophilic and they really can’t cross your blood brain barrier, or your body ceases them and signals them out because they are too big, even though they are trying to help you get better but the body will destroy them,” Alyssa explained.

“So, we are trying to use a mechanism like a bubble to engulf the proteins to disguise them, so the body won’t send signals out to destroy them. And then it can go to different parts to your body and actually be delivered to the body,” she said.

Alyssa started to do work in the lab last spring because that is when she had to start getting credits for her major. Dr. Nucci saw that she was working hard and doing an excellent job, so he offered her the summer internship.Translational biomedical science major Alyssa Sanders and a biophysics major in lab room

“Nucci would definitely be like a mentor that is coming to my life through this opportunity because he knows so much. He’s a biophysics professor, but he knows everything. He knows stuff about chemistry, organic chemistry and he knows stuff about any field of science basically,” she said.

If there is one thing that Alyssa has learned through her internship this summer is, “that science does not go according to plan and as Nucci says, ‘A lot is research for a reason. You can’t just search at once, you gotta keep doing it over and over again.’”

Her advice for anyone interested in her major: “It’s very hard. It’s not something that you can be like, ‘oh yeah this will be fun or easy.’ It’s not an easy major, but it’s worth it. If you want to go to medical school or get your Ph.D. it is definitely a major that is going to prepare you for that, because you have to take your harder classes like organic chemistry, biophysics and advanced classes that will prepare you.”

Like what you see, come visit us!


Story by:
Iridian Gonzalez, senior journalism major

Where is She Now? PCI Alumna and PR Grad Troi Barnes

PCI alumna Troi Barnes attended the Student Leadership Conference in the Chamberlain Student CenterMeet Pre-College Institute (PCI) alumna Troi Barnes, a 2017 graduate from the department of Public Relations and Advertising. She is from Williamstown, NJ (Gloucester County). Today, Troi will share with us what she’s up to now and how PCI helped her prepare for Rowan.

What are you currently doing? “I am a public relations account coordinator at Skai Blue Media, located in Philadelphia. I lead accounts such as The African American Museum in Philadelphia, I handle all their communications. I work with [teen activist and author] Marley Dias, I lead her account for #1000BlackGirlBooks. I also work with [author and producer] Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni, who does a one-woman show called “One Drop of Love.” She is also a consultant for Matt Damon and Ben Affleck for Pearl Street Films. So, I secure their accounts for speaking engagements and different social media partnerships.”

PCI alumna Troi Barnes attended the Student Leadership Conference in the Chamberlain Student CenterHow did PCI help you prepare for college? “It helped me a lot. My mother is Dr. Penny McPherson Myers [from the Division for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Rowan]. So, I was 12 when I started coming to the PCI summer program. It helped me to get to know people prior to even before coming to Rowan. And when I was actually in the program in 2013, I met so many lifelong friends. It also prepared me for college with being able to take courses that would eliminate me taking them in the school year, building up my GPA and just having a family going into the school year and college life in general.”

Were there any classes that stood out for you during the summer program? “I took a writing class that really helped me strengthen my writing before I entered college. I wasn’t that strong [in writing], and that helped me to eventually get where I am now, where I am writing press releases and media alerts.”

Any advice you would give to PCI students? “Give your all. As much as you give is as much as you get from the program. So, if you engage with everyone, you will become family. If you put effort to become friends with the people you are here with for six weeks, then you will definitely get a lot out from the program.”

Like what you see, come visit us!


Story by:
Iridian Gonzalez, senior journalism major

PROF Pets: Doby the Chihuahua

Doby the chihuahua smelling flowers Meet Doby. He’s a chihuahua, and he loves to go outside each morning to smell the flowers.

Age: Nine

Owner: Iridian Gonzalez, Journalism major, College of Communication and Creative Arts

Likes: Going on long walks and getting lots of attention.

Dislikes: Going to the vet and getting his nails clipped.

“My favorite place in the whole world is the park near my house because it’s the only park where the grass isn’t taller than me.” 

Doby chihuahua smelling flowers

Like what you see, come visit us!


Story and photography by:
Iridian Gonzalez, senior journalism major

Finance Major to Starting up His Own Marketing Agency

Meet alumnus Derek Morgen, a recent graduate with a degree in Finance from Rohrer College of Business. Currently living in East Brunswick, NJ (Middlesex County), he works for Agilis Chemicals as a digital marketing specialist. Today, Derek will share with us his story of how he went from a Finance major to a digital marketing specialist and how he launched his own marketing agency.

Derek first attended Drew University but decided to transfer to Rowan University his sophomore year. “Once I made the decision that Drew wasn’t for me, I immediately went straight to Rowan. My sister also graduated from Rowan, so it was either Drew, Rutgers or Rowan. And then I decided that Rowan was the perfect fit. I didn’t even go to the school [Rowan], since my sister went there, so it was a whole new campus that I found when I transferred there,” Derek said.

Derek decided to major in Finance and minor in Economics because growing up he had relatives working on Wall Street who also taught finance. “So, I grew up wanting to simulate that. Over time I grew out of it, which kind of led me to do marketing. And now I do digital marketing full-time,” he said. 

In 2017, Derek started up his own social media business called Expansion Marketing. “I was bored of doing social media online for different companies, so I ended up making it to a business,” he said. As a sophomore, Derek worked with Hollywood Tans, which is located on Rowan Boulevard, and with Royal Bargains in Blackwood, NJ. “So, I basically started doing social media marketing for them, running all their pages. Then it got into website development, and then I expanded it to SEO [search engine optimization] and things along those lines,” he said.    
As Derek’s agency grew, he knew it was time to register his business. “Now that it’s a full-service digital marketing agency, I got the LLC in April 2019,” he said.       

When Derek first started his business, he said he struggled at times but kept going. “I spent hours each week studying digital marketing and reading on my own, basically all self-taught. So, when I first got started it was pretty difficult, but I just kept going with it. Eventually I was able to grasp most of it,” he said. “Also, when I was struggling at first, I spoke to Professor Jon Vogel, who’s at Rowan and has his own digital marketing company too. He helped me create a plan for my own company.”

Apart from running his own business, Derek is currently working full-time as a digital marketing specialist for Agilis Chemicals. “It’s a tech startup based in New York and New Jersey in the chemical industry. It’s a commerce platform for chemical products, which is new to the whole industry, so it’s a cool start up.”

He also started his own sports podcast with two current Rowan students. The podcast is called This League. “We have a couple of interviews lined up with NFL players and a couple of coaches. It will be on Spotify and Apple Music,” Derek said.

His advice for all future freshmen: “Be very open minded. You’re not going to know exactly what you want to do when you first start. I transferred to a whole new school, became a Finance major and Economics minor and then I ended up moving into marketing, sports and digital marketing at the same time after graduation.”

Like what you see, come visit us!


Story by:
Iridian Gonzalez, senior journalism major

Communication Grad to CEO

Rowan alumna Denise Vitola with her team at her agency

Rowan alumna Denise Vitola at her agency

Meet alumna Denise Vitola, a 1997 College of Communication and Creative Arts graduate. Originally from Howell, NJ (Monmouth County) and now residing in Myrtle Beach, SC, she is cofounder/CEO of Vitola Strategies. Today, she will share with us how Rowan helped her find her passion for public relations and what inspired her to open her own agency.

Denise started out at Fairleigh Dickinson University and transferred to Rowan University her junior year to play basketball. “I always liked sports, I’ve played sports my entire life. I’m a sports fanatic,” she said.

Growing up, Denise wanted to be an FBI agent. It was not until Rowan that she started to fall in love with the public relations field.

“The way they designed the curriculum with advertising, news and TV … we didn’t have social or digital back then, but all the elements of the marketing mix really gave me many options of where I could take my career,” she said.Rowan alumna Denise Vitola giving out a speech

Denise loved that Rowan was near Philadelphia because she got the chance to do a couple of different internships. Some internships were on TV and one was at a hospital, where she did public relations. “I just really loved the variety of what they taught me under the whole communication discipline,” she said. “And it served me in my career later on because I started out doing public relations, but I’ve evolved in doing more integrated marketing now.”

What caught Denise’s attention about the communication field was that it’s a field where communicating and talking to people is a must. The ability to communicate to a larger audience and being able to share information to them also caught her attention.

Denise’s first job after graduating from Rowan was at the Alan Taylor Communications (now called Taylor Communications), a sports and entertainment PR firm. “It was really event related, so I had the opportunity while I was there to support my clients like Mastercard, Ford, NYC Marathon, the Super Bowl, the Olympics and the Major League Baseball World Series. So, I was able to really do a lot of exciting things like travel the world and meet a lot of famous athletes,” she said.

Before starting her own agency, Denise worked for 20 years in some of NYC’s top 10 agencies. “I started my own agency because I started moving away from doing the actual work. And I became more of a business head in that organization where I was looking at numbers,” she said. “So, I went off on my own to really begin working with the clients again, and that is what I’ve been doing.”

For Denise, the best part of owning and running her own agency is that she gets to call all the shots. “I get to work with clients that I like and love. I get to take on projects that are meaningful, and I get to do the work. I don’t hand it out to anyone else, I do it all. And I have an extremely flexible schedule,” she said.

Headshot of Rowan alumna Denise VitolaShe has recently worked with clients such as P&G, The Home Depot, Purina, Merial, Abbott Nutrition and PayPal.  

Denise has earned several awards for her hard work, dedication and passion for what she does. PRWeek honored her as one of its “40 Under 40” PR professionals, and PRNews named her one of the Top 25 Women in PR. She won the 2016 Stevies Award/American Business Award for Executive and Woman of the Year, and Women’s Health Magazine selected her as one of its Action Heroes of the Year.  

“Well, it’s fantastic. It’s nice to be recognized for the work that you’ve done. I feel very blessed that I won those awards,” she said.

Her next goal is making her clients award-winning brands. “I was able to achieve those things at a young age, and what’s next for me is to do the work for my clients. For me, it isn’t too much about me anymore, it’s about what I can do for my clients,” she said.

Her advice for anyone wanting to major in the communication field is to know how to work with new technology. “I would say that understanding social media and having a good idea about how to work with influencers and how to manage social channels is a must. You want to go into your job knowing much as you can, because your manager who is going to be 44 years old isn’t going to know much as you do. So, technology is key.”     

Like what you see, come visit us!


Story by:
Iridian Gonzalez, senior journalism major

Pre-College Institute Alumna Shares Her Story

PCI alumna Yaniris Patton-Cintron in Chamberlain Student Center

Yaniris Patton-Cintron (right) with a group of PCI alumni at the Chamberlain Student Centerin
Yaniris Patton-Cintron (right) reunited with fellow PCI alumni at the Ascend Pre-College Institute Student Leadership Conference in July 2019.

Meet Pre-College Institute (PCI) alumna Yaniris Patton-Cintron, a 2016 graduate from The Department of Health and Exercise Science. She is from Mullica Hill, NJ (Gloucester County) and works for Inspira. Today, she will share with us how PCI helped shape her Rowan experience.

What inspired you to choose your major? “I have always been in health care, so I came to Rowan wanting to do Physical Therapy (PT), but Rowan did not have the program. So, I switched and stayed with Psychology. After my first semester, I went into Athletic Training. Then I was like ‘No, I don’t want do just [work with] athletes, I want [to work with] special populations, so then — health and wellness.”

What do you do at Inspira?
“I’m a patient engagement specialist for Population Health, where I facilitate transition care from emergency room visit follow-ups to preventative care outreach. Inspira likes to make sure that our patients are not left behind or alone with their next steps in health care.” 

Samantha Noguera (left) and Yaniris Patton-Cintron at the Chamberlain Student Center
Samantha Noguera (left), a 2013 graduate in psychology, mentored Yaniris during her PCI experience.

How did the PCI program help you prepare for the Rowan experience? “They do a lot of outreach with their students. I’m almost considered a first-generation college student, and I still wanted to do something that was not too broad. I wanted to work with special populations. Health care in my family was a little bit different, so I felt, well, ‘What special populations can I reach out to?’ And that is what Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) did.”

How did EOF help you? “I’m a William Myers scholarship recipient through EOF, [which] had a lot of specialized things. They had a lot of workshops that were tailored to what you wanted to do and honed in on what your skills are. EOF allowed you to be your own person. A lot of programs have a set thing they want you to follow and they mold you into something, while EOF allowed you to mold yourself with their resources.”Rowan PCI alumna Yaniris Patton-Cintron at the Chamberlain Student Center

What advice would you give for today’s future freshmen? Keep going. I’m actually still in college, I’m in nursing school. I finished my bachelor of science and now I’m tackling [my nursing degree] at Rowan College of South Jersey. One good thing is that Rowan is diverse, so there are a lot of things you can do. You’re not [restricted] to one major or one program.”

Like what you see, come visit us!


Story by:
Iridian Gonzalez, senior journalism major

Pre-College Institute Alumnus Shares His Story

PCI alumnus Minelson Louis-Baptiste

Rowan and PCI alumnus Minelson Louis-Baptiste in the Chamberlain Student Center

Meet Pre-College Institute (PCI) alumnus Minelson Louis-Baptiste, a first-generation student and 2016 graduate from the College of Science & Mathematics. Baptiste lives in Lindenwold, NJ (Camden County) and is currently pursuing two master degrees. Today, he will share with us how PCI helped shape him and his Rowan experience.

Major: Biological Sciences; now studying Biomedical Sciences at Rowan Global 

First-generation college student? YesRowan alumnus Minelson Louis-Baptiste with fellow PCI graduates at the Student Leadership Conference

What inspired you to choose your major? “I always wanted to go into the health field. I love science, I love questioning and figuring out things. Biology was one of my strongest subjects in high school. I really wanted to learn more about biology, so I decided to go into biology.”

What are you currently doing? “Right now, I’m working on my second master’s in public health and looking out for job options.”

How did PCI help shape you and your Rowan experience? “Well, I always look back at my high school self. I was not very outgoing and was afraid to speak in front of people. PCI helped shape me and showed me there’s way more out there and to be open. This is a very lively campus with a lot of things going on. I used to be in my own world, so going into the six-week process, Rowan and PCI alumnus Minelson Louis-Baptistelearning how to talk to people and networking that put me out there and opened my eyes.

I still have some close relationships with some of my PCI sisters and brothers. I thank them all the time because when I’m feeling down, I reach out to them and when they’re feeling down, they reach out to me. I would say my counselor from PCI, Mr. [Israel] Laguer, has been one of my rocks. He’s one person I can go to and talk to. He knows me and knows what I’ve been going through in my personal life and school life as well. He’s always been there for me.”

Any advice for future freshmen? “Make sure you take every opportunity seriously and make the best use of it, because you never know where a connection might come from or where you might get your next opportunity.”

Like what you see, come visit us!


Story by:
Iridian Gonzalez, senior journalism major

Where Is He Now? Rowan Chemical Engineering Alumnus Theodore Cohen

Engineering Hall at Rowan University

Rowan alumnus Theodore Cohen at his office at IPS

Today we feature chemical engineering alumnus Theodore Maxwell Cohen, originally from Cherry Hill, NJ (Camden County). Now residing in Gladwyne, PA, he works as a project engineer on the design of pharmaceutical facilities at Integrated Project Services, LLC (IPS). Cohen shares with us how Rowan University helped him figure out what he was truly passionate about.

Before getting his bachelor’s in 2009 and his master’s in 2016 from Rowan, Cohen had to choose what university he wanted to attend. 

“I applied to nine schools and got into all nine of them. I eliminated five of them that were pretty far away. Both of my sisters had gone to college far away, and I saw that it wasn’t all that fun. I filtered it down to Rowan, Rutgers and Udel (University of Delaware),” said Cohen.

After eliminating Rutgers from his list due to the immense campus Rutgers has, it was down to the University of Delaware and Rowan. Cohen visited the University of Delaware and asked, “How are you going to help me succeed?” Cohen said the University of Delaware responded, “We take about 100 chemical engineering majors (ChE’s) every year. We graduate 50 of them as chemical engineers, and the rest we find something for them to do.” He thought, “Huh, those aren’t terribly great odds.”

Cohen then visited Rowan and met with Dr. C. Stewart Slater, professor and founding chair of the chemical engineering department. He asked the same question, and Dr. Slater said: “Well, we take about 30 ChE’s and we graduate around 23 of them as chemical engineers. But if you are willing to work hard, we will help you be successful.”

“At the end of the day, that and my scholarship is why I chose Rowan,” said Profile picture of Rowan alumnus Theodore CohenCohen.

The program has since doubled both its enrollment and full-time faculty, yet still maintains a small faculty-to-student ratio.  

During his time at Rowan, Cohen mentioned that he met some incredible faculty mentors, who really made a positive influence on him.

“I had a couple of great mentors that impacted my life. One of them was Chuck Clerecuzio. He was an adjunct professor who taught a senior level course in biopharmaceutical facility design,” said Cohen. “It was the course that I took that made me realize what I wanted to do in my life. Chuck was my mentor for many years. Unfortunately, Chuck passed away recently.”

Another great mentor who helped Cohen was Dr. Brian Lefebvre. Dr. Lefebvre was a chemical engineering professor at Rowan University from 2004-2008. While completing research for Dr. Lefebvre, Cohen was able to get a paper published as the primary author.

“His specialty was bio process, which is what I really loved. I did three and a half years’ worth of lab work and research for him learning the basics of upstream and downstream bioprocessing. He helped me get a paper published while I was an undergraduate on anion-exchange chromatography,” said Cohen. “We became friends while I was a student, and continued that friendship with him long after I graduated. Brian helped me get my first job out of school at DuPont working on a similar project to his.”

Cohen is currently working at IPS as a project engineer for the design of pharmaceutical facilities. His role is to ensure that the design of the facility is cohesive and meets all of the numerous requirements from both the client perspective as well as regulatory.

His advice for Rowan students is: “Work hard. Try to learn as much as you can. Don’t be so wrapped up in your grades, they’re important but not that important. Learn the information and try to figure out what you love because you will spend the next 40 years working. Do something you enjoy.”

Cohen is thankful for figuring out what he loves. “Brian and Chuck helped me figure out what I was passionate about,” said Cohen.

Like what you see, come visit us!


Story and photography by: 
Iridian Gonzalez,
 senior journalism major 

The 3+1 Program that Creates a Balanced Lifestyle

Susan Hacker talking with her mentor at Virtua

Meet Susan Hacker, a mother and first-generation college student from Burlington, NJ (Burlington County) currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Today she shares her experience on how convenient Rowan’s RN to BSN program through Rowan Global has been for her.

“Returning to school at middle age and becoming a registered licensed nurse provides a sense of pride,” said Hacker.

Susan posing in front of the donor wall at Virtua
Hacker, a registered nurse for Virtua Health System, will earn her bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree in spring 2020.

Hacker, a registered nurse for Virtua Health System, decided to further her education at Rowan for a few reasons. The 3+1 program offers partnerships between Rowan and local community colleges — making the transfer process easier and faster. “Rowan allows one to obtain a university degree at a well-known research school while simultaneously limiting costs and the prospect of long-term college debt,” said Hacker.

For Hacker, finding a work/life balance was important, and the 3+1 program has given her that balanced opportunity. “College is considered higher level learning, as is life. Much like life requires development and growth, through self-management of experiences, Rowan Global does the same. The online learning environment allows for self-management of study time through the limited log-in requirements,” said Hacker.

Attending Rowan has not only impacted her life in a positive way but her children’s lives too. Her children get to see her achieve each educational goal she sets, and for her, that is important.

Susan and Anne in the nurse station
Hacker (right) reviews a patient’s record with Anne Bertino-Lapinsky (left), advanced nurse clinician for Virtua Health System.

“Rowan has allowed me to develop professionally as well as personally, and [that] has not only changed my life but also the course of my children’s lives,” said Hacker. “Witnessing my passion to never give up as well as for learning and educational development later in life, Rowan has enabled me to instill the importance of education and the prospect that anything is possible in the eyes of my children.”

Hacker recommends anyone who is thinking in getting their degree through Rowan Global to do it. She said “it’s a convenient learning experience” while concurrently developing growth and maintaining a healthy balance between school, work and life.

“Every further step in education is an opportunity for new beginnings,” said Hacker.

Like what you see, come visit us!


Story by:
Iridian Gonzalez, senior journalism major

Where is He Now? A First-Generation PCI Alumnus

Meet Pre-College Institute (PCI) alumnus Ishraqul Wara, a first-generation student and 2018 graduate from the Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering. Wara lives in Clementon, NJ (Camden County) and works as a manufacturing engineer for Omega Engineering. Ishraqul will share with us how PCI helped shape his Rowan experience and where he is today.

What inspired you to choose your major? “My grandfather inspired me to be an engineer, so I got it started. [But] my first year here, I was not an engineering major. I got introduced to the engineering [program] and I became friends with many from the department. I started going into the rotation and I just applied. They accepted me, and that was the transition from PCI to an engineering major.”

How did the PCI program help you prepare for Rowan? “Many ways, I don’t think I can count all the things I learned from PCI and all the things it did for me — especially all the relationships it helped me build. It definitely helped me in my studies. [There are] so many ways they supported me throughout my four years here.”

What was it like being a first-generation student in PCI? “I think half ofIshmaqel a mechanical engineer in a navy blue suit us in PCI were first-generation students. So, I didn’t feel alone because we were on the same page. We understood the situation we were in. It was a mixture [in our] group, and that is why PCI is so great, it builds relationships and gives support out for people who need it.”

What are you doing currently? “I’m working at Omega Engineering as a manufacturing engineer.”

What advice would you give to our future freshmen? “Make connections.”

Like what you see, come visit us!


Story by:
Iridian Gonzalez, senior journalism major

History Major Grad to Sales Account Executive

Outside of Business Hall on Rowan's main campus

Profile picture of Rowan alumnus James Malfitano at his company.

Meet alumnus James Malfitano, a 2007 history major graduate. Originally from Toms River, NJ (Ocean County) and now residing in Naples, FL, Malfitano works as a Sales Account Executive for Rave Mobile Safety. Today, he will share with us his most memorable experiences while attending Rowan University and how his degree in history has helped him be successful in the world of sales.

After seeing how much his older brother Nick enjoyed Rowan his freshman year, Malfitano decided to apply to Rowan. “He had such a great experience his freshman year and it was the only school I really wanted to look into,” said Malfitano. “In addition, they had an excellent history program with tremendous professors. I really learned a lot from them during my time at Rowan University.”

For Malfitano, Prof. Lee Bruce Kress really taught history in a special way. He found his teaching style to be extremely thorough and liked how he would make students think quickly on their feet — and how he made sure all his students were engaged in his lectures. “That is why I took him for multiple classes,” said Malfitano.

Attending Rowan impacted and changed Malfitano’s life in a positive way. He’s made lifelong friends that he truly treasures up to this day.

“I still have lifelong friends. A lot of them were groomsmen in my wedding. I worked on campus at the financial aid office as a student worker and I met one of my friends there, and he was one of my groomsmen. I was part of a fraternity at Rowan, and a lot of those guys were part of the groomsmen party,” said Malfitano. “It has really given me lifelong friendships that I treasure up to this day. We are talking about friendships that have lasted up to this point about 15 to 16 years. So, I think that is one of the big things I carry with me.”

After graduating from Rowan in 2007, Malfitano moved to Massachusetts where he got his Master’s of Operation Management. He has been in sales for a little over 10 years. Even though his bachelor’s degree is different from his current career, he says that his degree in history has been extremely helpful in what he does today.

James an alumnus of Rowan is surrounded by his family.

“If there’s one thing that studying history and writing about history has taught me is that you have to be really detailed. You can’t miss out on any details, and I have integrated that into sales. When I’m speaking to folks who are looking into purchasing the products I sell, I make sure to learn as much about them as possible,” said Malfitano. “That is really how my history degree has helped benefit my career in sales, even though it’s two different professions.”

Malfitano is currently a sales account executive at Rave Mobile Safety, which is the current provider for Rowan’s critical communications capabilities. “So, let’s say Rowan is closing due to a snowstorm. The texts, the emails, the voice calls that all go out simultaneously, that system is the solution we sell,” said Malfitano.

Malfitano never thought that his current company would be working with Rowan. “When I was first told by the company, ‘We have a big presence with higher education’ and then I look and I’m like, ‘Wow they have been working with Rowan since 2014.’ I never thought my job would tie back to Rowan.

“But it’s welcome because for me I’ve always been so passionate about my school,” continued Malfitano. “I have such great pride that I went to Rowan University. I still keep tabs on the school, and it’s really amazing how much the school has developed since I graduated back in 2007.”  

Like what you see, come visit us!


Story by:
Iridian Gonzalez, senior journalism major

How to Help Your Student Adjust to “Adulting”

Students studying and playing on a field

Helping your child adjust to “adulting” is easier than you think. Today we hear from Ferdoushe Laizu, mother of rising Rowan senior Mohammed Fuad (journalism); Brunilda Gomez, mother of rising Rowan senior Miguel Martinez (radio/tv/film); and Kathy Vause, mother of recent Rowan graduate Vanessa Vause (public relations and advertising). They will share their tips on how to help your child adjust to “adulting.”

There is no book in the world with instructions on how to properly help your child adjust to “adulting,” but if every parent shares at least one tip or advice that has worked for them then there is a higher chance you can help your child adjust to “adulting” properly. Here are three “adulting” skills/qualities that Gomez thinks is essential for your child to learn before entering college:

  1. Time management- “Being able to manage your time between priorities is important in the real world, whether that is for a job or just in general in life.”Girl reading at the library
  2. Respect- “Respecting your coworker or people you come across in life. Show what kind of person you are. If you respect people, they will also respect you.”
  3. Organization- “Just like time management, organization is something you will use in real life and being good at it will bring you a long way.” 

Laizu’s piece of advice for students:

“One advice I would give is to tackle responsibilities like an adult and if you mess up, you have to learn how to take responsibility.”

students hanging out Kathy Vause shares her own experience as a parent on how she helped her recently graduated daughter adjust to “adulting.”

“As a parent, I’m there for my daughter but I need to step back and let her live out her life. Yes, she’ll make mistakes and struggle but that’s what will make her stronger and give her the ability to grow. It’s important to find a balance of supporting, but letting your child learn lessons on their own.”

Like what you see, come visit us!


Story by:
Iridian Gonzalez, rising senior journalism major

Computer Science and Math Graduate Student Shares Advice

A computer science and mathematics major is sitting with his laptop doing some work.

A computer science and mathematics major is sitting with his laptop doing some work.

Today, we feature advice from Elija Amponsah from Trenton, NJ (Mercer County.) Elija is a transfer student from TCNJ, currently pursuing his master’s degree in computer science and mathematics at Rowan within the College of Science & Mathematics. Today he shares his story and some advice for students wanting to major or current students in computer science and mathematics.A computer science and mathematics major is sitting with his laptop doing some work.

Elija Amponsah is one of seven children. He’s the first one in his family to major in computer science and mathematics. “They still don’t know what computer science is. I told them ‘Put it this way, everything you guys use we build it, we give it life. Like your cellphone and the apps, you have someone like me, we have to write it. You’re a nurse the programs that you use in your field on your computer, someone like me has to write it. The computer is just the hardware part. You can have a computer, but if you have no software you can’t use it.’ And that’s what I tell them.”a computer science and mathematics major is sitting with his laptop doing work.

What inspired Elija to major in computer science and mathematics was laziness. “If you talk to someone that knows about computer science or computer engineering, they will tell you that computers are really dumb. But someone who doesn’t know, like someone in a different field they will tell you that computers are really smart. Computers do things that we as humans can’t process in our brains, because if you tell me to count from one to infinity, I will get tired and bored. Computers can do it and faster. So, I figured why don’t I just learn how to do that and let them do the work that I don’t feel like doing.”

Advice from Elija:

  1. “Ask a lot of questions and work on your stuff. Most people think that when it’s Thursday or Friday it’s time to go hang out with friends and have fun. I say it’s either time to catch up or get ahead or learn something new. Someone who studies business I always ask them ‘What is your skill?’ or ‘What is your business?’ Because business is about selling and buying. So, if I can do that or if I can have a robot who can do that, why do I need you as a business major? So, you have to work on your skill. Learn how to do program, learn something! And ask questions, ask for help. People think that if you ask for help, you’re stupid. But I think that if you don’t ask for help, you’re stupid.”    
  2. “Take risks and take the biggest ones. Where you even wake up with a nightmare that you might lose something, but you have nothing to lose. It’s much easier to get rejected by a girl than by big companies. Because the person who rejected you like the recruiter or the HR person, is not going to see you again and most likely they’re going to tell you, ‘This time isn’t the right time, apply again in six months.’ When you get rejected by a girl, she isn’t going to tell you come back in six months. And you’re going to see that girl again and most likely she will tell her friends ‘This guy tried talking to me and I said no.’ Companies don’t do that! So why don’t you take that risk and apply to that company? Just take risks.”

Like what you see, come visit us!


Story and photography by:
Iridian Gonzalez,
rising senior journalism major 

Passing the Torch: First-Generation Art/Photo Major Gives Advice

Johnathan Puglise smiles at the camera while being surrounded by other recent graduates in their black cap and gowns.

Johnathan Puglise smiles at the camera while being surrounded by other recent graduates in their black cap and gowns.

Johnathan Puglise wears his black glasses as he poses in his black cap and gown for graduation.

“Meet people and spend time with them!” says Johnathan Puglise from Millville, NJ (Cumberland County), a recent art/photo graduate from the College of Communication & Creative Arts. Johnathan, a first-generation student, rented off campus and commuted to Rowan.

To make the most out of the college experience he says you should, “take photography!”

Like what you see? Come visit us!


Story by: Iridian Gonzalez, senior journalism major 
Photography by: Dean Powers sophomore radio/tv/film major

Passing the Torch: Radio/TV/Film Grad Gives Advice

Radio/Tv/Film graduate poses in his black cap and gown.

The best way to make friends is by joining “clubs in your major,” says Taylor Forte, a Radio/TV/Film graduate from Brick Township, NJ (Ocean County), who rents off campus and commutes to Rowan. Taylor celebrated his graduation a the College of Communication & Creative Arts ceremony. 

To make the most out of the college experience he says you should “never take yourself too seriously.” It’s also about “quality friends over quantity.”

Graduate Taylor Forte poses in his black cap and gown.

Like what you see? Come visit us!


Story by: Iridian Gonzalez, rising junior journalism major 
Photos by: Dean Powers, rising sophomore radio/TV/film major