Education and Soccer Alumna Makes Magic at Disney World & Remains A Ray of Sunshine Through Cancer Diagnosis

Miranda kicks a soccer ball into a soccer net as an alumnus, while wearing Rowan gold.

In this alumni success story, we learn more of the career path for 2013 education alumna Miranda Donnian. With our catching up with Miranda, a former record-breaking women’s soccer player for the University, we learn more of what came after her time here at the University, where her career has taken her, and her personal […]

Q&A With Master in Teaching Graduate Student On Her Studies & Student Teaching

Madelynn smiles at the camera.

Today we feature Master in Teaching graduate student Madelyn Olszewski from Washington Township, NJ (Gloucester County) who recently completed her studies. Madelyn pursued her master’s degree immediately following her undergraduate studies. What’s been the defining points of your academic career here, anything at all that stands out to you in particular? Well, my academics, like […]

Caffeine Consumption in College Students

Suzie is standing in a pavilion and smiling at the camera.

This article is part of a running series with Rowan University’s Wellness Center This collaboration aims to educate students about personal well-being options. For further updates, follow @RowanUWellness on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Caffeine seems to have become an inseparable part of being a college student. The most common ways to consume it are through coffee, tea, soft drinks, energy drinks, and, yes, even chocolate. Whether students consume it for the mental boost, taste, or to enjoy the social aspects, it seems to be the trendy thing to do. For all the joy and help caffeine provides to us, can it be hindering our performance and health?

Ruzie is leaning on a tree and smiling profoundly.

From the moment we wake up, the chemical adenosine builds up in our brains and accumulates throughout our day. It is what makes us feel tired by inhibiting wakefulness and promoting the sleepiness areas of our brain. What caffeine does to our body is block the adenosine from binding to the adenosine receptors making our brain unable to recognize how long we’ve been awake. However, caffeine doesn’t make adenosine disappear, only sleep does which is the reason why some people experience caffeine crashes. Caffeine does not replace good sleep and its effects have been known to interfere with sleep quality and patterns. So what can we do to maximize the benefits and minimize the risk?

 First, we need to understand our own bodies because everyone reacts to caffeine differently. If someone suffers from generalized anxiety or depression, caffeine may worsen the symptoms. Caffeine is a stimulant that increases the circulation of adrenaline in our body which increases our fight-or-flight response. Students may experience a more severe drop in mood once the effects wear off caused by caffeine withdrawal. For those individuals, it is recommended to find caffeine substitutes. Some ways to stay awake without caffeine include a quick 5-minute exercise, getting some sunlight, and staying hydrated with water. Dehydration can make us feel sluggish and aromatherapy is also an effective way to stay awake.

Suzie is leaning on a tree and smiling profoundly.

Otherwise, it is recommended to stop consuming caffeine 4-6 hours before bedtime to allow for better sleep. Medical researchers also suggest waiting one hour after waking up to consume anything caffeinated. That is because cortisol, also known as the alert hormone, is at one of its daily peaks of production within an hour of waking up. Consuming caffeine first thing in the morning lowers cortisol production, making us less alert throughout our day. By taking advantage of the cortisol produced in our body and delaying caffeine consumption, we can be more alert and lower the chances of experiencing caffeine crashes in the afternoon.

In fact, if the environment permits, it might be best to take a coffee nap. Our body needs time to absorb caffeine for it to take effect and depending on the beverage the effects can kick in between 10-30 minutes. Take a 20-30 minute nap immediately after consuming caffeine. Most people find this to be more effective than drinking caffeine or taking a power nap alone.

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Story by:
Suzie Tse, Higher education graduate student, Wellness Center intern

Edited by:
Lucas Taylor, English education graduate student



Let’s Normalize Body Image

Riya Bhatt poses for a portrait.

This article is part of a running series with Rowan University’s Wellness Center. This collaboration aims to educate students about personal well-being options. For further updates, follow @RowanUWellness on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Body image deals with how an individual perceives themselves, how they think about themselves as well as how to view themselves when looking directly at a mirror. Body image is not just a single aspect; it is various, especially with aspects such as height, weight, and skin color that hold weight in society. It’s crucial in the case of body image to have a positive understanding of the self as it creates a sense of ease in addition to promoting a positive outlook on a person’s mental and physical health. Having a negative body image is proven to have dangerous effects to the aforementioned features as it “can lead to a lower self-esteem which can affect some areas of a person’s life“ Body Image, 2022). 

Riya is leaning on a pillar and smiling.

People can start building towards having healthier body image by practicing positive thoughts about themselves rather than thinking negative toward their body. A person will build confidence if they exhibit a healthier mentality towards their own specific body image. Body positivity is when individuals love their bodies regardless of shape, color, gender, size, and ability. Body neutrality doesn’t involve always loving your body but it is more about accepting it. For example, body positivity would be, “I love arms, scars and all, they are beautiful” while an example of body neutrality would be, “I love my arms because they help me write.” 

Some tips to practice building body positivity!

  1. Think healthier, not skinnier
  2. Cut negative self-talk
  3. Positive affirmations
  4. Do not Compare Yourself to others
  5. Focus on the Things that you love about yourself

These tips will help a person think more positively about their body. If a person is having negative thoughts, then, they should practice these five healthy tips on boosting self confidence. 

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Story by:
Riya Bhatt, junior biological sciences major, Wellness Center intern

Edited by:
Lucas Taylor, English education graduate student

Sources

Source: Body image. NEDC. (2022, July 19). Retrieved January 28, 2023, from https://nedc.com.au/eating-disorders/eating-disorders-explained/body-image/ 



From Jersey City to Future Jersey Teacher, Jonathan Dale Shares What Fuels Him

Jonathan is sitting in a chair looking off in the distance.

In this edition of #PROFspective, we discuss with Jonathan Dale, an elementary education major, his intrinsic desire to go into education as well as the different motivations that have fueled him to go into the schooling system. Jonathan, a sophomore from Jersey City, NJ (Hudson County) also serves as marketing coordinator for Rowan After Hours (RAH).

So what was high school like for you in Jersey City?

I’m a product of the Jersey City public school system and I’m proud to be able to say that. There’s about seven public high schools in Jersey City. Where I went to school it was specifically for performing arts. Even though students were separated based on what they wanted to do, everyone still knew everyone. 

As a Black man, how often did you see teachers like yourself? 

All four years of high school; I can’t really complain. I think I only had one or two teachers that I couldn’t relate myself to. I think that because of that, it was one of the reasons as to why I knew that teaching was something that I could do. With me seeing other people being able to put themselves in such a position it helped me envision myself in the same spot. I was able to pick up so many different teacher mentors from my school experience. I think every year I had a teacher who was Hispanic, Black or even international, such as from India. My school did a pretty good job at making sure I could see myself as a teacher. 

Jonathan is standing in front of James Hall with his arms crossed.

How has your time been here so far at Rowan?

My experience has been good. I think now I’m getting more of the behind the scenes view. As I’m working through the school now I feel as if it’s become a lot better because of the friendships I’ve started to create with people. I’ve only been here a year, but I really do feel the appreciation and support here. I was just telling my coworkers about this, but just the other day it was my birthday and I had around 20 people text me and tell me “happy birthday!” I can’t remember how we met but just knowing that connection is there feels so gratifying. 

For yourself, you’re in the process of becoming a future educator.  What do you think is necessary for someone who’s thinking about going into the education field?

I think that at a certain point,  you feel like it’s something that you know you can accomplish. You have those understandings where you can kind of sit back and reflect on things like “I’m actually inspiring other people, what else can I do?” Of course, there are a plethora of different things that you can go into within the education field like becoming a counselor. I was fortunate enough to have teachers who were minorities, it helped me see myself in a similar career and know I’m not alone. I know that there are situations where a lot of people don’t have that same experience. However, I also think this brings out a great opportunity. You might not see people like yourself in school, if that’s the case do it yourself. Make a name for yourself. Instead of waiting for something to happen, start the next big trend of your city and start trailblazing different paths for young people. 

Jonathan is in James Hall sitting in a chair.

How did you come into RAH (Rowan After Hours)? How did that type of dynamic come to be?

I have a funny story about that. A while ago I was on the phone with my mom and remembered asking her for money. I still remember, my mom had told me “You need to find a job.” When she had told me that I remember I had looked down and I had an immediate response. I replied back to her and said “I think this is our lucky day”, the floor tiles were advertising for Rowan After Hours. It was probably one of the best moments that could have happened to me. I’ve made so many meaningful connections with RAH and it’s really helped me develop as a person and leader as the marketing coordinator. 

What drew you towards elementary education?

Going back to high school, I was a part of a mentorship program. They have students from my school go to other diverse schools around the area. I remember doing that my freshman year of high school. Another thing about Jersey City is that the school system is not that good. To put it lightly, we do have our rough places. But I remember going to one of the roughest schools in the district, at least in terms of trouble and behavior with students. I would go there and teach these students about different aspects that mean a lot to myself, such as bullying. You know, I’ve had family members that were personally affected by bullying and I would tell the students of the different experiences that go on. For the students, I think they knew I wasn’t just coming up with some generic story, they knew that I was being sincerely genuine. Because of my work with that, I think that was the beginning of when people, specifically kids that I talked to from before, would start coming up to me and telling me how my interactions had mattered to them. Kids come up to me all the time with things like “Jon, I remember you. Do you remember coming to my school? You taught me about bullying, drugs etc.” There’s something about that, I believe it to be the most gratifying part of imparting knowledge on people. Teachers will always say that they’re in it for the long run. With elementary education, I think this is the part of kids’ lives where they’re starting to make choices for themselves and you can really make a difference for them. 

What do you think of the lack of male teachers in the education field? 

At first, it was a bit shocking to me. I remember specifically last semester where I was one of the only guys in my class. I had thought it was a bit odd and I do feel as if there could be more males in the field. For most people, their male teachers are usually centered on physical education; but it doesn’t have to be like that. I just think that really constraining yourself into one field that you might not feel passionate about really isn’t the most optimal way to try and live your life. I’m actually apart of a project which is solely focused on increasing male practitioners and classroom teachers. It’s a program centered around men of color and enrolled students where they are paired off with a mentor. It’s not just like a very usual conversation with your mentor, it’s always extremely deep and eloquent in terms of context. Personally, I talk to my mentor just about every week. We discuss the different ways that we ourselves can improve ourselves and our mentors also help different parts of the education process that isn’t necessarily discussed enough; like finding clinical practices, data, networking with different school districts. I do believe that men are moving in the right direction and we’re starting to see more diversity in the field. 

Jonathan is looking off in the distance wearing a Rowan hat.

What drew you to Rowan? 

It’s such a funny thing. When it comes to me and my mom, almost everything that we do could be a coincidence. Covid had occurred during my junior year and I recall being with my mom and looking at all of the different college shows. At the time, virtual tours were especially big just because of how no one could get to any of the campuses. I remember doing research with her and something had caught my eye. I had known barely anything about the school but I was extremely perplexed over it. I remember seeing Rowan and asking myself how I never had heard of this university before. It was hitting all of my check marks at the time. In Jersey? Two hours away? I was extremely interested and was ready to sit through those three-hour virtual campus tours. I was mulling over a few other options like Moorehouse but after I had got to around the three-hour mark with the video, I was sold on the dream.

What attributes of Rowan made you know that was going to be your spot? 

One of the most important aspects that I was looking for with colleges was the emphasis on location and traveling. Knock on wood, but if anything were to happen, I think one of the biggest things that I need is the security of knowing I’m not too far from my family. When I was looking at different colleges the ones that I was really interested in unfortunately were in different states or many hours away. During this process of figuring out where I wanted home to be the next four years I figured that I had wanted to stay home in New Jersey. There’s something about it; I know that it’s somewhere I can build a life in and be successful for years after college. 

In regards to my parents, I didn’t want to make things difficult for them. Of course, I don’t want them to drive two hours to see me, but I think that it’s far enough and also close enough. If I ever get that feeling where I want to go and see my mom I’m fortunate enough to be able to get in my car and still do so. It’s really reassuring knowing I have that security. 

How do you envision yourself as a teacher? We talked about how you’ve been able to connect with all these kids. How do you envision yourself as a teacher? What do you hope to accomplish once you do become an educator? 

I always envisioned myself being that teacher where students could come to and know that everything is going to be okay. I want to be the teacher where I can hear things like “Mr. Dale I’m having a bad day. Can I stay in your room?” I want to create and cultivate a safe space for my students where they know they can come and see and we can come up with a solution together. That’s always been one of the biggest aspects of my life. I think that all my values are increasing for the hope that kids can get taught irregardless of what’s going on. I’m a teacher. It genuinely makes me really happy just to say things like that.

Jonathan is standing and smiling with his arms crossed.

How did your family react when you told them of your plans of pursuing education?

It’s funny because I feel like I was often told “your mom’s a teacher, therefore you want to be a teacher.” When we actually sat down and started discussing my future we had been going over a bunch of different career paths that might interest me, but never actually had a solidified route. I remember her saying “we have to figure out something you like.” I think that at the time we both knew that we couldn’t envision myself really enjoying anything outside of education. For my mother, she was just really happy that I had a sense of direction. I still remember when I had first told her that I wanted to go into education, she had just looked at me rather plainly and said “Yeah, it’s something that I thought you would do.” Mothers really do know best. 

Jonathan is smiling with his arms crossed.

What do you hope your lasting legacy will be as an educator? 

I want to be a contributor; I wouldn’t say change because change comes with time, but I want to improve the system as a whole. When I say I want to improve my school system, I want it to be specific. I want there to be more people of color in my position. I want the students to be able to envision themselves in the field and not feel disoriented. How can I make the students more comfortable? How can I improve the system? It’s these types of questions that I ask myself that fuel my mindset toward education. 

What words could you give to somebody who’s on the fence with majoring in education? What could you say to get them on board? 

Just go for it. Take advantage of all the resources and opportunities that your school provides. If you can go back and reflect on your own high school experience and still be able to name five teachers that had an impact on you, take a second and try to envision yourself in the same circumstances. Could I do something like that for someone else? It takes a lot of introspection and self awareness; this isn’t the field that you’re going in just for the money it’s a lot that you’re undergoing. If it’s something that you know you feel passionate about, I do think that education has a place for everybody. 

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Story by Lucas Taylor, Graduate English Education 









Humans of Rowan: Finding Her Place in Wrestling, Volunteerism & Student Leadership

Sapjah can be seen at Bunce Hall throwing a fist into the air.

With a sneak peek originally on @HumansofRowan on Instagram, today we learn more about Psychology major Sapjah Zapotitla of Cherry Hill, NJ (Camden County). Sapjah is involved on campus as the president of the Sociology and Anthropology Club and a member of intramural wrestling on campus.

What’s your Rowan experience been like as the first woman to join the Wrestling Club? 

It was a bit intimidating at first because of how there was no other females there. There’s men there, but it’s very different from how it was in high school. From my experience in high school, there was a lot more variety in the people that would come to practices in terms of size. 

But with the club, it’s like stepping into a jungle. I was really excited when I first started. I was exhilarated to just try my best and show all of the members that I can prove myself and show that I’m a lot stronger than people expect; because, I am pretty small. It’s been so far so good. In high school, it was a bit more of a hostile environment because I was a girl, but with here at the club, I felt welcomed and accepted. They knew that I wanted to come to the Wrestling Club to have fun. 

Sapjah is wearing a red dress standing next to a tree with her hands on her hips outside of Bunce Hal..

What’s your history with wrestling? 

This is a funny story. I used to be very shy and didn’t really think much of myself. But going into high school my freshman year, I knew I wanted to try something new. So I asked people what sports were available at Cherry Hill East. My peers would go on to say all of the generic different sports that might be offered, but they had also mentioned wrestling.

When I had asked about the sport they went on and said, “Yeah, but that’s only for boys.” At that moment I realized I wanted to go out and try out for that sport. 

I was still really shy for the first few months, but after a while I started to speak up and converse with more people. During my time in high school I had even tried to start the girls’ wrestling team. I knew that even if I didn’t have a place I was ready to go out and make one for myself and others who might be interested in similar things. I want to be the change. I want people to know that they’re being welcomed, especially females in a male-dominated sport. It’s been a really fun experience, to say the least. 

How was that transition like going from high school to Rowan? 

At first, I was just so grateful. It’s an environment that I didn’t know existed. That kind of environment where they’re like “you belong.” It has been amazing to find that here. 

Sapjah is standing in front of Bunce flexing her arms.

How’s your experience been so far here at Rowan? 

I was super nervous getting into Rowan because of financial issues. I’m a first-generation student, and I didn’t have role models to follow suit. I had to figure everything out by myself and I’ll be honest, I felt that pressure.

But, I was determined. If I was going to go to college, I was going to do it the way that I wanted to do it.

I’m currently taking 18 credits, which is six courses. My first two weeks into Rowan I became the president of the Sociology and Anthropology Club. I’ve even gone on to get interviews for future positions as well as getting a job here on campus at the Student Success Center as a secretary. It’s been pretty enthralling! 

What’s it like being the president of the Sociology and Anthropology Club? 

For myself, I’ve always been the type of person who likes to jump in and seize opportunities. For example, like being the first girl wrestler. I just want to be there and participate and do what I can to better myself.

With the Rowan Sociology and Anthropology Club, it was in the process of being rebuilt. When I first got there, no one was showing up. I came up with solutions, working with social media to attempt to recruit new members. I’m all for trying. 

Sapjah is standing in front of Bunce and staring into the distance.

Are there any other clubs that you’re involved in? 

I’m also a part of “Get Fit” here at Rowan. I’m a volunteer there. Last semester I volunteered around 20 hours, and I absolutely loved it. I felt like I belonged there, just helping people with disabilities work out helps me just as much as it helps them. I’m now technically a session manager for Get Fit. 

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Story by:
Lucas Taylor, English education graduate student

Self-Advocacy

Sedrick is playing Uno with friends and is smiling at the camera.

This article is part of a running series with Rowan University’s Wellness Center. This collaboration aims to educate students about personal well-being options. For further updates, follow @RowanUWellness on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

More times than not, whenever we’re experiencing a personal hardship of some kind we tend to retreat into our shells like a turtle and let the issue continue to persist rather than making a stand and finally addressing it.

The topic of self-advocacy is especially compelling considering that it can be applied to many different facets, whether it be mental or physical health, periods of stress, as well in situations of anxiety and depression.

The core aspect of self-advocacy is in its prefix, “self.” Only you can speak on account for the thoughts, feelings, and emotions that you’re currently experiencing; you’re the one who is able to tell how these emotions impact you in a positive or negative way.

Sedrick is with friends and is walking around on campus.

The textbook definition of self-advocacy is “the action of representing oneself or one’s views or interests.” Once a student enters college, self-advocacy can be seen as a training ground for students to begin to speak on their own behalf after half a lifetime spent having their parents and guardians advocating for them on behalf of their well-being (Rogers, 2022)

One form of self-advocacy that we see at the start of each and every semester, even if it’s usually glossed over really quickly, are the accommodations that are ingrained in every professor’s syllabus.

While it may not seem like it, making your professor(s) aware of the accommodations that you need in order to ensure your success in the class is a form of self-advocacy that not many students take advantage of. Accommodations don’t have to be specific to resources or materials, sometimes it’s taking one “mental health day.”

Sedrick is with friends, sitting on one of the lawn chairs on campus.

Life gets extremely arduous at times. Sometimes missing one class during the semester allows one the chance to recuperate your mental stamina, especially if it’s the week before an exam or quiz that you’re feeling especially stressed about. You can spend this mental health day just letting all the tension you’ve had building up over the semester finally ease a bit before throwing yourself back into your studies.

Putting yourself first has remarkable results, it gives you the chance to finally take a breath of fresh air for yourself and get back on track. 

Sedrick is getting ready to play Uno.

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Story by:
Sedrick Golden, junior health and science communication major, Wellness Center intern

Edited by:
Lucas Taylor, English education graduate student

Sources

Rogers, L. T. A. (2022, September 22). Self-advocacy: A tool for Success. CollegiateParent. Retrieved February 1, 2023, from https://www.collegiateparent.com/student-life/self-advocacy-a-tool-for-success/#:~:text=Self%2Dadvocacy%20is%20a%20student,this%20is%20not%20the%20case.

Overcoming Overthinking: Ways to Cope with Anxious Thinking

Kathleen is sitting on a bench at Rowan while the sun is going down.

This article is part of a running series with Rowan University’s Wellness Center. This collaboration aims to educate students about personal well-being options. For further updates, follow @RowanUWellness on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Do you ever find yourself in a quiet setting trying to get some work done but there is just a little voice in your head saying a million things at once? Have you ever been told “you are just overthinking it?”

This is a natural emotion for us to feel but it can be a problem if you let it control your life.

Kathleen is standing with her hands in her pocket smiling brightly.

Overthinking can attributed by multiple different factors like stress and anxiety but it can be more expansive than what people perceive it to be. For instance, in cases of stressful events, traumatic crises and even precarious decision-making, all of these different ideas can all play factors. Overthinking is something that can happen automatically; It can come from one thought and eventually spiraling down a rabbit hole of negative thinking.

When this is a recurring action, it could be a symptom of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) or major depression disorder (MDD). People who worry excessively will have difficulty in concentration and ability to function. 

Kathleen is leaning into her hand and smiling.

With all of that being said, it’s very easy to start how to stop negative thinking! In most cases talking to someone about any problem allows you to gain perception on the situation you’re going through as well as hearing a voice from someone you trust. Cognitive Behavioral therapy (CBT) is very helpful for individuals to identify the problem or emotion.

CBT will assist with  reframing negative thoughts and find healthier ways to cope with anxiety. If an individual can’t afford therapy or the time that comes with it, having a support group or person that you can trust to talk about anything with is especially helpful.

Kathleen is sitting on rocks and smiling.

Journaling is also a great way if someone doesn’t want to share with someone. It’s a great way to make a list and see the problem in front of your eyes to identify it better. An article called “How To Stop Overthinking” by Health Essentials, suggests setting up a worry period! With this method it gives you an allotted period of time to sit in a quiet place with a 30 minute alarm where you can write all your worries down on a piece of paper.

You’re not going to be able to get through all of your problems which expected; no one is able to chase all their worries away in one sitting. Let it settle and find a different way of dealing with these problems in your next worry session. This is a great way to help someone to attack each worry one by one!

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Story by:
Kathleen Ramos, Senior Nutrition Major, Wellness Center intern 

Photography by:
Joseph Conte, Junior Community and Environmental Planning Major

Edited by:
Lucas Taylor, English Education Graduate Student

References

https://health.clevelandclinic.org/how-to-stop-overthinking/

Friendship Toxicity

Kye is standing in front of Business Hall and smiling.

This article is part of a running series with Rowan University’s Wellness Center. This collaboration aims to educate students about personal well-being options. For further updates, follow @RowanUWellness on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Friendships in adulthood can be difficult to navigate especially when it comes to recognizing a healthy friendship versus one with toxic traits. Growing older means meeting friends in many different ways, for instance, in college we meet them in class, club meetings or even as student workers. Throughout the years we are constantly growing and evolving and sometimes we may outgrow certain friendships. When we grow as a person, sometimes friendships do not grow with us. People grow in different ways and it is okay to let them go. 

Kye is standing directly in front of the camera smiling profoundly.

Healthy relationships look different for everyone but at its core they all consist of similar values. Having the ability to have open and honest communication with one another is the foundation for every friendship. When communicating, it is important to have respect and to practice active listening skills. Relationships have highs and lows and being able to stick through both of them can say a lot about the relationship. At the end of the day, regardless of which values and boundaries the relationship has set, what is important is that each person enjoys spending time with one another.

Boundaries are a vital part of every healthy relationship that help everyone feel comfortable. Just like relationships, boundaries are constantly evolving and they look different for everyone. An example of a boundary is that folks often believe that relationships consistently need to be 50-50; however, this is not always the case. Oftentimes it is okay if that number fluctuates because someone can’t always give everything all the time in a relationship. 

Kye is standing in front of the student center party-acting in an activity on the sidewalk.

We are all human and as humans we make mistakes, and that is okay. What really matters is how someone responds upon realizing a mistake. Mistakes can take many forms like snapping at someone, taking more in the relationship or accidentally pushing some of the boundaries a friend may have set. Upon realizing the mistake, it is important to be able to hold oneself accountable. Accountability can look different in various ways but the most well-known and appreciated is an apology and the willingness to learn and grow. 

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Story by:
Kye Binik, senior law and justice major, Wellness Center intern

Photos by:
Valentina Giannattasio, dance and marketing double major 

Produced by:
Lucas Taylor, English education graduate student

References

https://www.today.com/health/behavior/toxic-friendship-warning-signs-rcna16665

#PROFspective: What Health Means for Senior Adrianna Blake

Rowan University Health and Physical Education major Adrianna is standing out front of the PROF logo in her basketball gear.

In this edition of #PROFspective, we learn of the the viewpoint of senior Health and Physical 
Education major
Adrianna Blake of Bayonne, NJ (Hudson County). In our conversation with Adrianna, we discuss with her as to how her unique Rowan experience led the way for her discovering what her future in physical education means. 

What goes into being a Health and Physical Education major here?

Being a Health and Physical Education major means a lot to a lot of different people. For myself, I went into the major more so thinking of the health aspect. I grew up to be a really intuitive eater. I’m one of the people that you’ll see in the grocery store looking at the back label making sure there’s no gums or corn fructose syrup. I want to implement more longevity, taking especial care as to what individuals are putting into their body and noticing the difference in their everyday life.

Rowan University Health and Physical Education major jots down notes inside a gym.

Health and physical education is essentially teaching students to build healthy and sustainable life habits. Whether that be through nutrition, your mental and physical health or as I stated earlier, creating healthy life habits, it’s our duty as future educators to remind these kids to make sure they implement all of these different lifestyle habits into their life. 

How did you come into Rowan?

When I first came into Rowan I was actually a Law and Justice major. I was obsessed with “Criminal Minds” in high school and I had envisioned myself as this FBI/detective character. Eventually, I figured out what kind of work that entailed and that I would have to take it home with me. I figured it would be too much for me to handle. So, I looked into the education field.

I’ve been playing sports all my life and I figured health and physical education would be the right fit for me. It was a mix of trial and tribulation. I had originally gone in as early elementary from, from what I believe was Kindergarten to grade two or three. Elementary ed was from grade three to five and I remember realizing that I didn’t want to be put into this box where I’m stuck teaching only a specific age or grade level for the rest of my life. With physical education, which is K-12 certification, it gives me more leeway to test the waters and broaden my own perspective. 

Rowan University Health and Physical Education major Adrianna can be seen helping a student out with stretching.

What is your coursework like being a physical education major?

I had actually just come back from Concepts of Creative Dance and HPE. I had taught a lesson where I was this tree going through all of the four seasons. It’s a lot of creativity and adding your own originality to the lessons that you’re teaching. In my opinion, it takes a lot of planning and formatting and can be a bit on the tedious side. But overall, I feel that the concepts that we want to get across can best be accomplished through the energy that you, as the educator, bring to the class. You can have a stellar lesson plan and meet all the criteria on paper, but if you show up to class and have low energy or just not familiarize yourself with the students, they’re not going to be as responsive to the material as they’ll just be reading it off like a piece of paper. 

What is your involvement on campus like? Are there any specific clubs or organizations that you’re a part of? 

So I’m part of the HP club and this semester I’ve been volunteering to do “Get Fit.” It’s an established program where people with disabilities come with whomever, such as their parents or guardians, and get assistance with weight training.

For many people with disabilities, they do not receive a well-rounded physical education. However, with “Get Fit” we create a safe environment. It’s easier to feel comfortable in a room where you’re able to relate and empathize with other people, especially more so when you have a support system and people that want to see you succeed. Our participants give us progress worksheets that we fill out every week so we can see their progress. 

What sport(s) were you involved with when you were in high school? How did this inspire you to later become a physical education major? 

Another reason I had thought physical education was a good choice for myself was because of my athletic background. In high school, I was a triathlete, I was involved with soccer, basketball and threw shot put and discus in track and field. On the latter, I had thought it was almost crazy that I was involved with throwing. I had started my sophomore year and I ended up being exceptional at it. For myself, I had really gotten so proficient in throwing through technique and not just the raw physical aspect of it. All of my background in sports had given me inspiration to go into the physical and health education major. I’ve had so many great figures in my life that eventually I want to be on the coaching side of things. 

I had actually come into Rowan to play basketball my first year. Unfortunately, four days into my second year I had torn my ACL around four days before the season had started. Health and physical education really had played a part in changing my perspective as a whole. I understand why there is a stigma with the major and how it can be perceived as being solely focused on sports, but it is so much more than that. And obviously, physical activity helps with longevity and putting you in a better mood, enhancing all these great things. But you want to make sure that you’re also working on your mental health and being mindful of what you consume and put into your body as well. 

Rowan University Health and Physical Education major Adrianna can be seen on the basketball court with friends smiling inside Esby Gym.

How has tearing your ACL affected your going into the health and physical education field? 

I would say it has. Tearing my ACL was more so of a mental injury more than anything. I was kind of down for a bit. I wasn’t able to do the normal things that I’ve been doing since I was six years old when I had first started participating in sports. It was definitely hard on me. I feel like health and physical education was that kind of linkage and gave me solace as to where I am now. I know my own limitations now physically but I also am aware of the other side of things. I can always coach and help other young students and athletes play the sport that I love. 

Where are you originally from and how has your transition been from there to Rowan? 

I’m originally from North Jersey. I grew up in Bayonne. For myself, the camaraderie has been extremely beneficial for myself since I’ve been on campus. The best comparison that I could give for it is that it’s been almost like a natural instinct where I knew that Glassboro was going to be home for a few years. I feel like it was far away from home but not too far. I’ve still had my dad be able to come down and visit me down here. When I first arrived I do think there was a bit of a culture shock. I always knew North Jersey and South were super different but I remember just picking up on all of the different lingos when I first moved. The transition was still adaptable and now I can see myself staying down here for a few more years. 

What do your future plans look like outside of college in the field of education? 

For myself, there is still a bit of uncertainty. I don’t know if I’m going straight into a district and teaching after I graduate. But I do see myself coaching. I feel like I can bring about a very interesting perspective and would love to implement that into either coaching or physical education.

When I was growing up, my dad was a boxer and he actually won the Golden Glove a couple of times in New Jersey. My mom was a yoga instructor so I always felt as if it was natural for me to be as active as I am. What’s interesting to me nowadays is children who are struggling with mental health and how prevalent of an issue it’s becoming. You know, in this day and age there are so many different curveballs that are constantly being thrown at teachers such as social media, it makes it difficult to remain flexible. 

During my clinical experience there was one particular teacher, Michelle Thornton, who had stood out to me. Thornton had the students work on their mindfulness and had a class dedicated to meditation in substitute for a physical activity in their PE class. I had sat in on one of those classes and I was blown away. In one of the times I was observing she told me this story of this room that was originally a storage room and how the school had renovated it just for her. This room was heavily decorated and seemed so warm and welcoming; there were multiple different tapestries arrayed on the walls alongside string lights and different yoga mats. Thornton’s teaching method was incredible to me, she would talk with the students for 40 minutes just reminding and reassuring them that they were okay and that the classroom was a safe space for them to get anything that they wanted off of their chest. I think in my field, I want to implement something similar, whether that be a yoga class instead of a volleyball lesson or a mindfulness class instead of something. 

Rowan University Health and Physical Education major Adrianna can be seen at "Get Fit" and is coaching another person how to use a machine.

Can you discuss with us the importance of mental health in connection with physical health? 

With physical activity, it boosts your endorphins and stimulations you; but, that’s not everything that occurs. Mental health is something that we forget to exercise and work on. As a society, I feel like we’ve grown as its become more of a goal that we want to reach to be happy by working on that part of ourselves. For myself, this is especially important for my own set of values. The professors here at Rowan do a great job at implementing health and wellness just as much as the physical education aspect. 

With your ACL injury, you stated that it became more of a mind injury, how were you able to heal yourself mentally and continue to keep moving forward? 

Going back to my personal injury, it was a big blow. Something that had helped me a lot was journaling how I felt every day and keeping track of the progress throughout the injury. It’s an extensive recovery lengthening around over nine months. Even after the recovery process you can still feel some aches and groans from the area. No matter how much I tried to focus on the physical aspect and get back to playing sports, I knew that I couldn’t rush the process. The mental block was especially draining. I had to face the fact that I might not be able to go back to playing sports.

Because of my experience, I want to remind students that if you ever go through such an endeavor, whether it be injury or anything else, I want to remind them that it’s good to have grit and have that drive to get back but to also be able to take a step back and let your thoughts settle about what had just happened. It’s important to recognize these type of thoughts, recognizing trauma is a huge task in itself, especially at a young age, students may not think of that possibility of not being able to play a sport again. 

Of course, it may seem a bit outlandish to someone who has never played sports, but I can understand why someone may think it a bit extreme. However, to that person, whether that’s a student or athlete, these types of injuries are prone to causing trauma and be detrimental to their life. Right now I’m learning more about these trauma-based injuries and as a teacher, we have to be aware of the signs of it. Noticing patterns of lack of effort, attendance, and depression, lets you as an educator put that hand out to help students going through bleak times. 

What’s an interesting aspect about physical education that you didn’t know until you took a course on it?

I’ve talked about nutrition a lot so far but something that was really eye-opening to me was school lunches. I want to be that voice to persuade the school or district that I’ll be at and let them know how processed students’ lunches are. 

I also remember in high school that the football team that we had was the only team that had taken weight training seriously. In connection with my own injury, I tore my ACL and the doctor’s and people involved all had thought that it was my hamstring that had torn because it was so weak. Naturally, women have weaker hamstrings than men. Women are more quad dominant while men are more hamstring dominant, which is why you may see more ACL injuries in women. When I tore my ACL they had wrapped it up and I was even able to go to a Halloween attraction that night. I had surmised that everything was fine but when I woke up the next morning, my knee was the size of my thigh. From that point I knew something awful had happened.

This was also a great learning point for myself. Throughout that process of physical therapy and the read to recovery, a lot of emphasis was placed on growing the muscles around the knee such as the hamstrings, quads and glutes. Growing up, I had no idea that was even a thing. I hadn’t got involved with weight training until I came to Rowan my first year where it was mandatory for the basketball team to have 5 a.m. lifts. I can reflect on that now and think of how bizarre it was to have something so important such as weight training and have it neglected. You have the usual sports that are heavily involved with weight lifting such as the wrestling and football team but it goes beyond that. Women should also be doing the same thing to ensure maintenance of the body as well as prevent injury. 

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Story produced by:
Lucas Taylor, English education graduate student

#PROFspective: Civil Engineering Student and Clubs Enthusiast Kayla King

In this edition of #PROFspective, we learn more of Kayla King of Burlington County. Kayla is currently a senior and majoring in Civil and Environmental Engineering and in this excerpt we learn more of how Rowan provided opportunities to further her career as well as enriched her experience as a college student. 

What is civil engineering?

Civil engineering, to me, is the ability to design, build and construct all types of bridges, buildings, any type of infrastructure. Civil engineering also deals with maintaining all of that aforementioned infrastructure When you’re on a job site you’ll see that it’s not just all the construction workers that you see building things. It’s also all the design teams, consulting teams, the land surveying teams, there’s a bunch that goes into all of the different infrastructure that we see today.

Rowan University Civil Engineering major Kayla works on a project inside the concrete lab in Engineering Hall.

What made you choose engineering and more specifically civil engineering?

I’ve always known that I wanted to be an engineer; my father was actually in the construction industry growing up. My father was an ironworker, to put it into perspective, those are people that you see climbing all the high rises, putting up all that steel. Later in his career he switched into becoming an operating engineer with Local 825. I’ve always had a background in construction, which has influenced my decision, but I’ve also always loved math and science.

I was always a problem solver, I love to answer questions and come up with solutions with intricate questions or challenges. I’ve also really enjoyed engineering diving, that is something that I’ve learned all the way back in eighth grade. I would say that  because of my upbringing and just familiarity in the construction industry I’ve gotten some inner niche details within the industry. So I’ve just kind of always known that I wanted to do civil engineering.

What goes into civil engineer diving? 

They’re basically commercial divers, they do not have typical scuba equipment but you do have something similar to the whole helmet. There are a lot of intricate differences such as how you don’t have the air tank on your back it’s fed into a line to you. Throughout the dive, you have a tagline throughout. With civil engineer divers, these people are the ones that kind of will go in anything that has water. They’re certified to be able to go underground, and they end up taking special care into noticing how things are down below and then report that information to the people up above. That’s how they’re able to do underwater inspections on timber piles on bridges or foundations. So it’s really nice. It’s an interesting thing that a lot of people don’t know about.

Civil engineering major Kayla (left) and another student work on a project in the concrete lab in Engineering Hall.

What made you choose Rowan initially?

Rowan is close to home, but not too close. I’ve also been very fortunate to get a lot of scholarships to go here. Rowan has an incredible engineering program. In my opinion, it’s got to the point where you cannot even argue that it isn’t. I believe we’re 15th in the nation for the last year for our civil engineering program. So I’m very proud to consider myself to soon be a Rowan graduate.

Describe your experience here.

So I’ve been involved in everything since the start of my freshman year. I have been a Chamberlain Student Center building manager and before I did that I had a position working at the Information Service Desk.

Outside of work-related aspects, I’ve been involved in the Wrestling Club, which is something a lot of people wouldn’t think of. I had met a friend freshman year and we became really close. I kind of pinned him in his freshman dorm room and I’ve been going to the club ever since.

I’ve also been involved in various other clubs throughout my time on campus. I am ASCE president and have been for the past two years. Before getting that position, I was the senator of the club. I’m also involved with women’s engineering. I used to hold the workshop chair position as well as the senate chair position for that club as well.

What does ASCE stand for, and what does it represent? 

ASCE is the American Society of Civil Engineers and it is a worldwide organization. The ASCE national has different student chapter branches where we are able to compete in various different competitions with other regions of schools. So for example, we are hosting the ASCE Region One metropolitan symposium from April 21 to the 23rd this upcoming year. There is a lot of excitement around it because of how so many different students can get involved in it. The competition has a bunch of different challenges and tasks such as making things like concrete canoes with surveying competitions. It’s a whole bunch of things to help facilitate fun and learning at the same time.

Could you provide some insight on what went into Women in Engineering? 

WE (Women in Engineering) was definitely a club that I enjoyed being a part of. I wasn’t as involved as I have been in comparison with ASCE just because ASCE is more directly geared towards my major, so I decided to give more time towards that. But WE was definitely a great thing because it was under the I triple E which is the electrical engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering major club. And I just like WE slightly better than SWE (Society of Women Engineers) throughout my time here because I feel like the individuals that WE had were more personable while SWE was definitely more professional. So it kind of depends upon what you were looking for at the time. In my case,I decided to go the latter route because I wanted to make more friends. They also had really good baked ziti at the time. 

Profile picture of Rowan University Civil engineering major Kayla.

What is it like being a woman in the engineering field? How would you say your experience has been so far?

I love being a woman in STEM. I like the fact that I’m constantly expected to do less, because then I always do more and there’s always an element of surprise. I’ve grown accustomed to hearing things such as “What the heck? Where’d this come from?” I like to be able to prove myself and my worth.

So, talk to me about your most influential professor here.

So the most influential professor for me would definitely be Dr. Douglas Cleary. He’s a great teacher. You get an introduction to him in your freshman or sophomore year. Dr. Cleary has courses where you deal with statistics, which is a really fundamental civil civil engineering course. Right from the start, you definitely understand that he’s a professor who’s looking out for your best interest. As time went on, I got more involved with ASCE and I spent more time with Dr. Cleary and I definitely can say he is one of the best professors here.

The camera is panned in and zoomed in on what Kayla is working on.

What are some of the clubs that you’ve been involved with like? 

I’ve been a part of a  slew of different clubs. One of the ones that I’ve been involved in throughout my time here is ASCE, WE and SWE, but there are a million other different ones like Tau Beta Pi, which is an honor-based introductory society. For Tau Beta Pi, it’s invitation only, which is really cool. I’ve also been a part of the Rowan Environmental Action League, which is something where if kids are interested in the environmentally friendly side of civil engineering, it’s definitely a way to give back to the community and participate in a lot of campus cleanups.

We also have EWB, which is Engineers Without Borders, which is a club where a lot of the students can have opportunities to go out of the country and be able to work on small different tasks to help the communities there. Another club is 3D PC. So this one’s not technically engineering-based, but it is something to keep an eye on, because a lot of civil engineers might have some like niche interests. So say if they want to build something themselves, 3D PC allows you to print your own personal designs. You also have NSBE, which is the National Society of Black Engineers, or SAME which is the Society of American Engineers.

When you’re here at Rowan in my opinion I think you should try and give every club that you might be interested in the chance. In my experience, a lot of my peers were doing the same thing and it gives you the chance to separate yourself from others, they’re gonna be the things that get your name out there.

Being a part of different clubs and associations is gonna be the way that professors know you. And professors obviously have had their own life, their own network. So it’s really important to make sure that you are involved in the clubs, because it’ll set you apart from everyone else.

Kayla (pictured in center) and a group of her classmates are listening to the directions of a professor.

What are your goals for the future?

I would love to end up becoming an engineer diver. If that falls through I’d also be open to the idea of becoming a construction project manager, I don’t necessarily have a direct path right now. I’m in a place where I have a great amount of internship experience. I’ve done an excellent amount of work during my time at Rowan. So it’s kind of just kind of where life takes me so far.

What impact do you wish to have on the world?

I would love to be the “know it all” answer for everyone. That’s what I kind of did at Rowan, just being involved in everything. That’s what I really like to do is just being a leader and  being able to help anyone, no matter what it is. Even if I don’t know the answer, I would love to find out and help you with that. So that’s why I’ve always enjoyed being a part of all the clubs because of all the different mentoring opportunities that they include, there is definitely a great way to foster more relationships, and therefore more networking opportunities for a better job in the future.

What’s one piece of advice you would give an incoming freshman?

I would say don’t give up and keep your head high. You know yourself best. So if it is something that you want to do in regards to a club, Greek life, or if it’s something that you’re not sure about and you say you want a friend to go with, that’s ok. You don’t need a friend. Do it by yourself. You have the confidence. 

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Story produced by:
Lucas Taylor, English Education graduate student

Alumni Success: Joseph Albanese and Where Computer Science Can Take You

Joseph Albanese of Gloucester County, NJ is a 2021 Rowan University alumnus who majored in Computer Science. Joseph works for the company Freefly Systems as a software engineer for the organization’s Alta X drone technology. Whether that be through dealing with maintenance on the front and backend of coding on drones, Joseph Albanese is a diligent worker and proud graduate of the Rowan College of Science and Mathematics.

What is computer science?

Computer science is the study of computers and software. Rowan’s program particularly focuses on the software end of things. There’s a lot of different subcategories that you can get into within the major such as artificial intelligence and robotics, which also has a focus on low level code running on boards. You could also get into applications programming where you’re running codes on applications that you use everyday such as social media.

There are a lot of other categories within this encompassing field that all relate to computers and the software that runs them.

Joseph Albanese wears an Alta X t-shirt.
Rowan University alumnus Joseph Albanese

What are the different avenues like within the field?

Computer science is used in just about everything you can think of now. For instance, your car has a small computer that controls the electronics like the air-to-fuel ratio and a ton of other little things that you don’t even think about in your day-to-day life. Your phone runs an entire operating system that has computer programs running on it. You can go into fields like robotics or drones where you’re focusing on those low-level bits and manage flight dynamics.

You could also go into more high-level things such as writing the software that you use to interact with other pieces of software or devices. You could go into cloud programming or web development where you develop a net of servers and develop all of the different actions that the servers are performing. There’s a huge breadth of things that you can do with computer science in general.

What are some positions that you can find in computer science?

You can be an embedded software engineer where you’re specifically focusing on the development of software that runs on boards. You can think about dominos, where you’re taking these pins that have input and output signals and you have to do an operation in between. You take the input and do some form of an operation between sending out outputs.

With robotics there’s a huge application for that. You can work in an automotive field, you can work with developing cameras that even you guys [editor’s note: our camera crew] are using right now. You could also be a web developer, which has two different subsections with the frontend and backend of things.

For the frontend of things, you can work on the user interface and how buttons appear on the screen and how the user is going to interact and act with that sort of thing. On the backend, you’re managing how data is transmitted from a user, how it’s stored, as well as the operations that you perform on it. There’s a lot of different avenues that you can go about doing.

A lot of what I did at Rowan was lower level application development. I focused quite a bit on writing Linux applications at Rowan University like what was in my capstone classes. Our senior project had us contracted by ASRC to build an application that they were going to use. 

Joe is diligently working on his laptop while his drone is right next to him.

What was the coolest application that you developed at Rowan?

The two coolest things that I did at Rowan were that ASRC project where we wrote a messaging system to send text messages back and forth between servers. The coolest thing about that was that it was decentralized. There was no central server keeping track of the messages, the messages would go directly from one computer to another computer and only to the user that was supposed to be receiving it. If any of the other computers had gone down you could still communicate with all the other ones. If you brought it back up it would automatically be joined back up into the network and communicate again.

Another cool project that I did at Rowan was building a Spotify recommendation website. If you connect to the website or link your own Spotify account with our website it would give you the option to like songs. The website would then take all of the different characteristics of the songs that you had selected such as the keys, the speed of the song, the different notes that would play, and it would compile all that together to craft a playlist for the specific user.

What do you enjoy the most about the field?

There’s a huge variety in what you can do. There’s a lot of interesting jobs that you can get in computer science but I would say that the thing that I like the most about computer science and engineering in general is getting problems and solving them. I get a lot of satisfaction from it. When I get a problem that I have no idea how to approach, getting to know about it and cracking the code and figuring out what I need to do is fun.

Joe is working with a partner and has a drone flying.

What is Freefly Systems?

Freefly Systems is a company that started out doing cinema drones and other robotics. We build cameras, but I primarily focus on the Alta X, which is our large heavy lift drone that is used in many different movies. We’re also getting into the industrial space with land surveying. We’re also looking into breaking into drone delivery. We sell this drone to different companies that are already doing really cool things with their own equipment or provide different services for them.

Generally, Freefly develops drones, cameras and gimbals. Companies that specialize in filming these triple A movies would look into our company and our Alta X to put their camera and equipment together. They use our platform to carry out their tasks. There’s so many different types of markets with drones. There are people who want small drones for shows, but generally for our type of customer, payload and weight capacity is one of our highest concerns. The openness of the platform and the ability to integrate whatever you want with it allows you to take care of whatever you need at the highest level.

What are your responsibilities like at Freefly?

I am a software engineer for the Alta X Team here. Generally, I take care of multiple different tasks ranging from the programming of the boards inside the drones to managing how the different boards communicate with one another as well as writing scripts to do qualitative insurance. I’ve done some work with changing some of the different codes that provide the front end to control the drone.

There’s a whole wide range of tasks that I do as a software engineer. Rowan University definitely provided me with a lot of basic tools that I now need to understand general programming concepts and how to write quality code. From there I was able to leverage those skills and learn how to apply it to drone technology.

Joseph smiles as he programs the Alta X drone for flight.

Are there any opportunities for Rowan students and alumni at Freefly?

Here at Freefly we’re constantly looking for new talent. If you’re an alumni or just recently graduated, you should definitely apply as we’re always looking for new software engineers. If you’re a current student, we’d love to have you as an intern and show you the ropes of what drone software engineering is like.

What is the best piece of advice that every computer science student should live by?

I would say that the best thing that I had heard when I was in school was to not just focus on your course work and making it the only thing that you’re doing. If you have side projects and things that you’re working outside of what you’re being taught, not only does it reinforce things that you’re learning but it also shows that you’re passionate about what you’re doing while applying for jobs. It gives you a leg up in experience but also having something to show what you’re doing.

If you apply what you learn outside of the academic environment and take it one step further, you start to push the boundaries of what you learn in class. You’ll have a much easier time transitioning into an actual workplace. While school provides a great foundation and a bit of depth to things, going outside and like I said earlier, pushing it that one step further, will really help you get a leg up on things.

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Story produced by:
Lucas Taylor, English education graduate student

The First of a Program: Katrina McCarthy, M.S. in Urban and Regional Planning Student

Katrina is sitting at a desk with a globe put near the camera.

Transitioning from one career path to another is no simple task, but in the case of Rowan Global student Katrina McCarthy, she’s used her prior knowledge to set the foundation for her next step forward. In our conversation with Katrina, a Rowan undergraduate alumna and member of the first cohort to launch the  M.S. in Urban and Regional Planning program, we discuss how her experiences have led her into different fields as well as how Rowan is setting its students up in the Urban and Regional Planning program for future success.

Can you tell us a bit about your geography background? What made you pursue it for your bachelor’s degree? 

I was initially an undergrad in the Radio/TV/Film department [RTF] here at Rowan. I was one class away from finishing the program when I had taken a class called World Regional Geography. From that class I realized that there was this whole discipline around geography and that I could make a career out of it if I pursued it.

At the time I never knew something like this existed; I had always loved flipping through the Rand McNally Atlas ever since I was a little girl. I remember being in the backseat of my family’s pickup truck during road trips just perusing through it. After that I was all in on geography. I took every class you could possibly take about GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and learned how to make digital maps. It all spiraled from there.

Katrina is standing and smiling with her arms crossed inside Discovery Hall.

What was that experience like going from RTF [Radio/TV/Film] and transitioning into Geography? What aspects of it made it difficult and what parts of it were easier than you anticipated? 

Geography is one of those disciplines that is very welcoming and open. There are many people like me who didn’t realize that you could study places, people, spaces and how or why they become those places. It ends up being somewhat of a catch all program where other people stumble upon it from these teaser classes. You have your gen ed experience and stumble upon something like Geography. You discover it. The program is very all encompassing and accessible to any person who is passionate about the big and small details of the world we live in. It’s a bit different, but I felt like RTF was a little bit more niche and competitive and I wasn’t ready for something like that at the time.

Could you provide some insight as to what Urban Planning encompasses? 

Urban planning to me is taking the physical world around you and just looking at it as if it were an onion and peeling it all back and seeing all the different component parts that make up the world that you traverse through every day. So whether it be infrastructure, roadways or buildings, it’s the built physical landscape that you live in and the other aspects of it that support it. With that being said, you’re looking at food systems (where your food comes from), water systems, affordable housing, transportation, green spaces and so on. There’s just so many different facets of how urban planning works.

What is your concentration? 

So I’ve really concentrated on conservation. I’ve worked on a project called NJ MAP. We’ve partnered with some conservation organizations to work on a project called the Conservation Blueprint, where we are basically bringing together all the conservation groups in New Jersey together in a collaborative way to figure out how to connect and preserve the available land that is left in New Jersey.

One of my colleagues, Dr. John Hasse, famously stated in 2001 that New Jersey is projected to be the first state to reach “build out.” Build out means that all the land in New Jersey is either developed or preserved; there’s no in between. From that you get what’s called a locked-in landscape. New Jersey has become rapidly suburbanized, and you see a lot of McMansions and wandering suburbs. But then you also see a really strong push to conserve the beautiful landscapes that make up this state, the Garden State.

Katrina is sitting at a table with a large map of the world behind her.

Why do you believe there should be a prevalence in keeping the balance between wanting to build more but also wanting to preserve? 

I think the balance is being able to do urban and community planning the right way. For a long time the planning profession to me seemed a little bit daunting and scary, because, growing up, I thought urban planning was something done by technocrats. I thought that it was a top-down operation and through the first half of the 20th century, it was in many ways. After going through this program, what I found out is that real true planning comes from the community.

True planning comes from learning about the history of places and opening it up for a proper dialogue. You realize that without the residents’ input you create a disjointed, sprawling landscape. In order to do it better, we need to really break it open, turn it on its head, bring more youthful vibrancy to it and, and bring in the voices of the people that are living in these places. And I think that’s what it’s lacked for a long time.

So with New Jersey being such an historic state, there’s been a lot of changes going on throughout. What difficulties do you run into when going through your urban planning? How do you overcome these difficulties?

So for example, since the onset of the COVID pandemic, you can see the skyrocketing of e-commerce and what does that do to our landscape? There are warehouses everywhere, just going up by the minute and what it’s doing is eating up farmland, it’s eating up forests, it’s eating up land that shouldn’t be developed in that way. If it was done better, we would have more coordinated roadways, we’d have more coordinated rail lines that connect to harbors and airports. New Jersey is ground zero to see these impacts. We’re the linchpin right in the middle of the Northeast megalopolis. We’re in the center of Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore, Washington DC – you could be to any of these places within a couple hours drive. We have the second biggest port in the country with Newark.

But what we see is, all these warehouses, just dabbling in the landscape now because of broken or short-sighted planning. All of this can be done more efficiently. But we’re just not there yet.

Part of that problem is that New Jersey has what’s called Home Rule. New Jersey is the third smallest state in the country, but at the same time, we have 564 discrete municipalities and so 564 different towns, making their own decisions about what happens in those towns. For situations decided by mayors and officials that are on two- and four-year terms, they often make decisions about what’s good for their town in the most immediate time frame and it can be very short sighted. What happens is that the next administration inherits what the previous administration’s already done and it sort of bleeds into each other.

Part of the reason that it’s so difficult to tackle things like warehouses is because we need to take a more regional approach. Not even just regionally in New Jersey, but regionally in the Northeast. How do we do this better, how do we make it more efficient? And how do we bring about the policy, regulation and/or votes to make these changes happen?

In this portrait, Katrina is standing in front of the camera with her arms crossed.

You’re clearly passionate about the subject. But with that passion, how did we get from the little girl who liked looking at maps and books to where you are now?

I think that when I transitioned into geography, like I said earlier, I realized this is actually a discipline with discourse that is able to shape the modern world. Going through the process of creating and maintaining NJ MAP really engrossed me in the power of maps to communicate change and bring awareness to matters often unseen in day-to-day life. Then when I committed to going back into this graduate program, I realized that it’s not healthy for elected officials and planning boards to be in this reactionary state when development proposals are put forward. There needs to be advocacy and understanding for the people living in these places. It starts with engaging in the community. You start to question, “Is this happening where I live? Is that happening where you live?” You start asking yourself: Where does the change actually lie? How do we change the status quo? How do we flip the script, change the dynamic, and make it so that there are more people coming into this field?

When I was in high school considering what you could go to college for, I never thought about planning. I mean, I don’t know who would because it’s not really introduced in such a way. And it’s not a really appealing field like others. Planning doesn’t exactly present itself as a riveting field. But when you really dig into it, you start understanding that there is so much to it that impacts your daily life. You start saying “We can have a say. We can figure out how to build momentum for these different initiatives.”

What was the hiatus that you mentioned earlier? 

After I graduated in 2009 with a degree in geography, I worked at an engineering firm. I was just mapping signs on roadways on a computer that was updating a road centerline inventory. It was just grueling, mind-numbing work. After that I came back to work on a project in the Geography, Planning, and Sustainability Department. We kicked off what was called the NJ MAP, which is an environmental resource atlas that we developed. Like I said earlier, a lot of the planning in New Jersey happens at a local level in these 564 municipalities. What we realized is we wanted to be able to provide data and information to people to make better decision making for their towns and what we questioned was, “How do we know where the threatened and endangered species are? Where are the stream corridors? How do we protect the wetlands? How do we not allow development in areas where development shouldn’t occur?”

We thought that we could catalog all this data because of how New Jersey is so fortunate to have a really strong program through the Department of Environmental Protection that produces so much data.

We can document and we can show where these things are. So we thought if we take all this information and we can put it out there on a publicly accessible map, people will be able to use it in the field and then bring it up at a public meeting and say, “Where is this location where would they want to build this warehouse? And is there another location that might be more suitable, where there might be a willing seller? Is there a site that isn’t going to build on prime farm soils but instead redevelop abandoned lots?” Typically all this information isn’t readily available but NJ MAP bridges that divide. We wanted to take this data and make it publicly accessible so that everyday people can use it. That’s been going on for around 11 years now, and this type of thought process is still going strong.

Katrina is sitting at a desk with different plans arrayed inside Robinson Hall.

Do you ever feel as if there’s an immense pressure with your work? Do you think it might be too much at times? 

Whenever you build something, especially if it’s open source like NJ MAP, I feel like people could use it for nefarious purposes. It’s kind of out of our control, you just hope that more people use it for good than bad. Being able to take data and put it down to a parcel level, a place where you can measure it and see where things are, I think that that gives a lot of power to make more informed decisions and support grassroots advocacy efforts.

When did you start your master’s program?

I started the master’s program in fall of 2020, which is when the program began. So I was part of the first cohort to start the program.

With you being in that inaugural program, what kind of skills have you learned during your bachelor’s that are now being tested for your masters? 

I’m a lot more focused on the question: “How do we make planning more regenerative?” For a long time planning was this one way, just kind of how humans build up the landscape to be able to accommodate automobiles. The United States was largely built for the automobile, which, if you look at Europe and other places, it’s glaringly obvious that we did it all wrong. But now we’re starting to figure out how we can get it right, undoing some things and deepening the involvement of the community. You follow practices that are regenerative.

I feel like coming through the program, there’s a real emphasis on what’s called the triple bottom line, which means doing things that are good for the economy, but also society and the environment. How do we set our sights on that as our goal and create strategies that achieve tangible results? What is the best situation for the mental, physical and social well being of a community? I think that’s a big part of planning today, as well.

With this master’s program, do you have to have a final thesis that you came up with?

No. There’s no requirement for a final thesis, per se. There is a capstone Planning Studio course that is immersive in applying planning techniques in a real-world project. We partnered with Frederic Byarm of Invincible City farms to gain a better understanding of community perceptions of food insecurity in the city of Camden, NJ. Mr. Byarm is passionate about cultivating nutrition, economic growth, and dignity in his mission to eradicate food insecurity in Camden and wants to create a service where local food may be produced and delivered by local employees. We worked together to conduct a semester-long project that included conducting focus groups, one-on-one interviews, surveys and a food environment scan and created a final report and presentation to the community stakeholders.

We’ve done many other interesting projects, and definitely a lot of writing, just to document different research methods. We also did a lot of qualitative research methods. For example, we did another project where we looked at the Chamberlain Agora that’s being developed right now. During this process, we knew the plans were already in motion. They’re already going to expand the building and it’s one of the places on campus, that’s an iconic campus hub. It’s one of the places that everyone goes and is a meeting place that connects all these other places on campus.

So we wanted to get some information from the people that use this place every day. We were trying to figure out what was missing and what should be there when the expansion is complete. We were looking at the seating options, charging stations, sustainable materials, water features and greenery. Mainly we were trying to figure out how to make the site functional for humans and nature. That was a really fun project that was done collaboratively (three-student team).

What is it like working with your degree here at Rowan? What is it like working on your own university, so to speak?

I had a great experience. I think that there is definitely room to build the Rowan MSURP program relationships with campus planning and other offices. Like I mentioned earlier, this program is quite young, it just started in the fall of 2020. So I think that there’s a huge opportunity for this cohort of grad students coming through to interact with the campus landscape architect, planning office and sustainability leaders. There are so many things going on, there’s initiatives that some of my colleagues are working on like Re:wild (a movement to build a world in balance with the wild) and accessibility on campus, not just for physical impairments, but for any kind of other accessibility consideration.

Katrina is standing in front of a brick wall and smiling outside Discovery Hall.

What job opportunities are out there for people that have a degree in urban planning? 

With job opportunities, the work ranges. You can work as a community developer or for conservation organizations, you can work at planning firms, whether they be urban, regional or rural. A lot of planning is done at the local level, but it’s generally done by a planning firm.

In this area in particular, planning firms might cover Camden and Gloucester counties. You can also go into fields like transportation or historic preservation. I have a colleague in the grad program who is really interested in historic preservation and vintage motels, specifically in Wildwood, and he was able to intern with their Historic Preservation office over the summer.

If you’re interested in working on climate change, mitigation and adaptation measures are being put in place now but need a lot more support from working professionals. Developing and implementing green stormwater infrastructure and practices, for example, is a huge field. With that being said, there’s a lot of different directions that you can go.

How accessible is the program going from here to there?

I say that it’s so accessible, and that’s why it can be hard to nail down one niche aspect. For myself, I could say that my niche has been conservation planning because I’ve worked in an adjacent capacity for the last few years. You have people like [faculty member] Megan Bucknum who is a professional that works really deeply in food systems planning. A lot of people wouldn’t think about urban planning and food systems, but urban areas need food and they don’t have a huge farm base, so that is another major branch of the planning field.

Why Rowan? Was it opportunity that you spoke of or was Rowan one one of the firsts to have this program?

There is one other planning  program in the state at Rutgers called the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. It is a well-established and highly respected program. I think that it’s really important for Rowan to be able to enter this space because, as a public university, Rowan has the ability to provide an accessible education to people, especially in South Jersey. With this program, I feel like it offers a flexible way to gain an understanding and entry into the field of urban and regional planning. The undergrad program is in Community and Environmental Planning, and really so much of what urban planning is comes from well-executed community engagement. There is also a 4+1 program to help streamline undergrads into the program if planning becomes their passion.

What would you say to encourage someone to look into urban planning? 

It depends on where your niche lies. If you’re a really technically minded person, you can dive deep into GIS. GIS once upon a time was using a limited software program to be able to draw polygons and points lines on a map. It was very straightforward. Now, if you want to dive into GIS and really get into the data and information, you have to be almost a software programmer to be able to do it, but you will also be able to pair that with a passion for places and spaces. If you manage to synthesize the two it will bloom even more. If you enjoy writing or graphic design those skills are strongly needed too. So it just depends where your niche lies.

Even if you enjoy traveling, then I feel like it activates something inside you. I have always loved to travel. As of now, I don’t travel as much anymore, because I have two young kids. But at the same time, being able to get lost in a map is something that will never get old to me. And I can do it anywhere in the world. I am never not intrigued by what I find. No matter where you are, just go for a walk and observe; there’s something so enjoyable about that. And if you enjoy that, you would enjoy geography, you would enjoy the discipline, you would appreciate all that goes into the field of planning.

Is there any pride that you feel having been part of this inaugural class that’s going to graduate with this master’s program? 

I’ve had a long history with Rowan. Like I said, I started my undergrad program here back in fall of 2005 which is scary to say out loud. I graduated in 2009. And I’ve been a proud Rowan alum and I will be a proud Rowan alum after I leave this program.

It’s cool to see Rowan plant its flag in this field because we need more urban planners, we need more young people realizing that they can do something about the urban and physical landscape around them and they can make a difference.

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Beyond the Classroom: How Two Students Blend Art and Science

Naman and Terry are sitting on the stairs of Bunce Hall.

In this edition of Beyond the Classroom, we discuss the founding of the ArtSci Symposium with Terry Nyugen, who recently graduated from the Biomedical Art and Visualization program, and Naman Srivisvatra, who recently graduated from the Biological Sciences program. While at Rowan, Terry was president of the Neurodiversity Club; Rowan Blog featured her in this interview. In our discussion with Terry and Naman, we learn of their ambition to blend the lines between art and science in order to create a more inclusive and understandable message within research exhibits.

What drew you to Biological Sciences? How do you think your program helped you transition to Biomedical Art and Visualization? 

Naman: For me at least, I picked biology mainly because I had an interest in it for such a long time. I mainly picked biology because it serves as an intersection point between a lot of different fields. I was mainly interested in the ecological and environmental side of it. At some point, I had chosen to pursue medicine but at the same time keep the same interest in environmental and ecological sciences.

With the medicinal aspect, there are parts of it that involve a lot of complex molecular biology along with other aspects that deal with organic chemistry and various other “hardcore” sciences. The Biological Sciences major presented the opportunity for me to get both of those things without having to compromise schedule or taking multiple majors.

The reason I ventured into Biomedical Art and Visualization was because of Terry. Terry had introduced me to the program back in our freshman year. I always had an interest in visual arts, so to me it seemed like a perfect fit where I get to practice science while also working in visual arts and communicating science. At the time I had thought this to be such a unique opportunity that I would not get anywhere else. 

How did you two meet? 

Terry: We met each other freshman year and quickly became friends. Naman just so happened to be in a practice room in Wilson Hall, and I just so happened to be getting ready for a concert that day. We started to introduce ourselves and we found out that we were both pre-med students and an untold bond was formed! That’s how we just got to know each other.

I didn’t really have a lot of pre-med friends at the time and I was looking for them. Naman and I got acquainted and we started signing up for classes together. From there our friendship just kept growing as we started involving each other more in each other’s lives. 

Terry is sitting on the ledge of a nearby building with flowers all around her.
Terry Nyugen, of Burlington County, is a recent graduate of the Biomedical Art and Visualization program.

How did you introduce Biomedical Art and Visualization to Naman? 

Naman: The way that I had found out about the program was the day we met when I was in the practice room. I did a lot of musical work as well, I was heavily involved with the Jazz Studies program and Terry was in Classical Piano. The day of that concert I was looking over the program booklet of the concert. In that booklet, it showed all the different names of the students that were involved in the concert as well as the major that they are affiliated with. When I saw Terry’s name and the major next to it, Biomedical Art, I had thought to myself, “I’ve never heard of that, especially at Rowan”. I started to do some research on my own and I found out that it was an entire major. I proceeded to ask Terry about the major and the different types of stuff that are involved with Biomedical Art and Visualization. I found an interest in it and then that following Fall semester I started taking those classes. 

How did you (Terry) and Naman get involved with Biomedical Art and Visualization? 

Terry: In high school I had a lot of different learning issues and curves that I had to overcome. For me, learning visually was a way for me to get the information and ingrain it into my brain. The reason why I specifically chose Biomedical Art was because deep down, I wanted to pursue medicine in high school but I didn’t have stellar performances. I still wanted to stick with science but not commit to it. My strengths were in art and I found ways, especially towards my senior year, to combine the two ideas.

My parents were the ones who found the Biomedical Art and Visualization program. My parents saw my efforts and wanted to find the environment that would put me in the best position to succeed. Even when I took AP Studio Art in high school, my portfolio was based around this idea of combining science and art. It wasn’t until I actually decided to commit to Biomedical Art that I found out it was much broader than I had previously anticipated. It deals with educating and creating different avenues of communication and not just creating beautiful illustrations.

Essentially, I chose Biomedical Art to help teach myself scientific information without outright saying “I go to medical school!” Eventually, once I feel more confident, I’ll say that. I had a love for art but also didn’t want to give up on the rigors of science classes.  

What clubs/projects are you two directly involved in right now? 

Naman: In the past, I was a founder of the American Physician Scientist Association, which was one of the main components of the ArtSci Symposium. Our goal was to help incorporate more vigorous research into medicine. A lot of the time with students that are going through the process of applying to medical school, they really do not have any scientific research experience. It’s not a prerequisite, but it is nice to have.

A lot of my friends, especially during the Covid period, were struggling to find space at labs and weren’t able to get the experience they needed for applying to medical school. And so, I had started working on setting out on an organization on campus that was dedicated towards getting students into research. For a lot of the time, what we figured out what was happening was that it was the students who did not feel comfortable directly reaching out to figures such as research supervisors. With getting into labs, it more than likely comes from word of mouth. It’s direct communication.

Especially since the pandemic hit, research took a huge blow. The pandemic created almost a vacuum, there were students who were actively looking for labs to participate in and you also had students who were leaving; there was no bridge between the two to get students into the labs.

I wanted to create an organization that was dedicated to helping students obtain the research experience that they needed, whether it was for medical school or just if they wanted to pursue science on a deeper level. That was one of the big initiatives that I had here at Rowan. 

Naman is standing profoundly in front of a brick wall with his blazer draped on his shoulder.
Naman Srivastava of Gloucester County, is a recent graduate of the Biological Sciences program.

Naman: Another one was my protein work over at MIT. Although it doesn’t directly involve Rowan, I still did a majority of the work on that here at Rowan as well as using a lot of the skills that I had learned at Rowan as well. What we did was look for new ways to communicate science. In this process called protein solidification, it was becoming more and more popularized by scientists and faculty members at MIT. I took an interest in it immediately.

As someone who has a music and science background, I thought that my perspective would bring an interesting way to communicate molecular biology. What we did was, it was me, Terry and a couple other of my buddies who were actual music majors and we sat down and looked at the different sequences of protein. Proteins are built out of these tiny pieces called amino acids and there are 20 of them total. We were able to categorize all of these different amino acids into musical notes. Each of them correlates to a different note and what we did was string all of the different notes together into a musical composition.

There’s a level of artistic literacy that is needed to get this to work because of the sheer amount of musician skills needed. I will say it was extremely complex mainly because you get a random string of notes and it was our job to make a cohesive composition out of it and make it sound coherent. We did a lot of work on that, the first time we started on it was back in 2020.

That was for the American Society of Microbiology. The society was doing a bit of an art contest. They had expanded the different forms of submissions that they would accept and so my friends and I saw this as our chance. We sat down and wrote up a composition and even filmed a music video for it. We did not win, but we did manage to get into the finalists category; which, I’ll take! After we were done that one, the following year we saw that MIT was hosting a conference that was built around biological communication and new ventures into science. We sat back down and decided to start back from scratch. We went back at it and selected a new protein, solidified it, and got all of the musical data to start writing our piece for submission. We were planning on actually driving up to Boston, but with covid that really put our plans in awry. It was held virtually but it was a really good experience to be able to talk to so many different people from that area and get an idea of their thoughts when it comes to different projects and ideas. I’m planning on going back again this year. Our group really wants to keep our ideas fresh so we’ve been thinking of integrating new ideas with the project like animation or even being able to communicate how our thought process worked. 

Naman and Terry are sternly looking directly into the camera while sitting next to each other.
Terry and Naman cofounded the ArtSci Symposium.

Could you tell us about the initiative, ArtSci, that you two co-founded?

Terry: It started off when we were having lunch outside the student center. I had approached the idea to Naman and said, “What if, and hear me out, we have a symposium where we revolutionize how research posters are presented?” We wanted to figure out a way to change the way in which research posters had been incorporated up to this point because at the time we were learning about having creative outlets for communicating certain things.

With research posters, we wanted to change the foundation of it and have them more focused on communicating the desired message in a more effective manner within the mathematical and graphic design portion of posters. For myself, I remember looking at the examples in classes versus the things that I see in the Science Hall.

I would just wonder what happened if you know, the traditional signs were posted? This mindset was an idea that came up before but it wasn’t as developed as we would have liked it. When I approached Naman with the idea I remember saying, “I really think you can do this.” I knew of Naman’s strengths and I knew that we both had skill sets that would complement each other as well compensate for our own weaknesses. After that lunch we decided to work together from then on. 

Naman: The original idea was something that was proposed a year or two back. We wanted to hold our own research symposium. But at the same time, because we cater to such a broad range of research, we were very self aware and questioned as to how we can make this interesting or something new. The main research symposium that was held on campus had been canceled for the past two years due to Covid, and the person that ran it, Dr. Gregory Hecht, had retired. So there was this vacancy and we saw that kind of as an opportunity to capitalize on.

Naman and Terry pose with campus greenery in the background.

Naman: During our discussions of the research symposium we knew that we wanted to make it unique in some way because a lot of the supervisions that are held on campus are a one-and-done type of ordeal where you make your poster, present and then you’re done. For both Terry and I, we wanted to put some sort of spin on it, something that would help people actually understand the message of what is trying to be conveyed.

If you go to a standard research symposium it has a lot of texts, a lot of diagrams and a lot of graphs. You’ll be standing there and trying to absorb all that information from somebody who’s not from that specific field which only makes it increasingly more difficult in such an arduous environment. If you’re looking at multiple research posters in the same day, that’s a lot of information for anybody to take in; so, we wanted to distill that process down and make it easier for anybody and make it more accessible for people from all backgrounds to understand the work that’s being put forth by the researchers and the artists.

Our rationale for this idea was to pair together scientists and labs with artists and graphic designers so that two to come can come together and sort of create posters and presentations that effectively communicate the type of work that the researchers are doing in a cohesive and synthesized manner. We sat on that idea for a long time. Before we could get to the point where we wanted to be we had to do a lot of pre-planning. Any idea after thinking critically on it is exceptional in theory, but the nuts and bolts of the idea is extremely intensive. For us, we had to think of ideas such as “Where is it going to be held and when is it going to be held? How much is our budget going to be? Where are we going to spend the money? How are we going to spend the money? How can we get other organizations at fault to potentially either help out, either on the artistic or the scientific aspects? What are additional sources of funding? What are other concerns?”

As most Rowan students know, the university is continuing to get larger within the most immediate sense as well as its general presence. We saw this as a potential joining of the Rowan University students and Glassboro community where people of all backgrounds regardless of circumstances can come and appreciate the work that other researchers have done in an accessible manner. For us, we wanted to make it so that anybody can walk in.  Our whole goal was to make it so that even someone as young as a  sixth grader can walk in and understand everything that’s being presented. This is a very unique opportunity for us to get engaged within the local community, specifically Glassboro and the different communities around it.

There was a lot of planning that we did and there were a lot of people that helped us out along the way. The team ended up being close to around 15 people. We had divvied up the work where there were volunteers who were strictly involved with just the planning committee. Thankfully, our head of volunteers, David Lee, did a lot of work in organizing potential volunteers who were there for both setup and teardown. David and his group helped with reaching out to different departments and finding different sorts of researchers, as well as people who can sort of help us out in this heavy endeavor. We did a lot of work in just [getting] the word [out] on our project and letting both communities know that the symposium was happening. 

Naman and Terry are standing on the Bunce Hall stairs.

You previously stated that accessibility is one of your core values. What made you come to this realization that the current standard of art and scientific diagrams are not as accessible as it should be?

Terry: I think one of the core motivators for us that I forgot to mention was this whole thing sort of was born out of the tension that was between health care and politics that sort of arose from the pandemic. With some people, they shared their own opinions such as not wanting to get vaccinated or not wanting to wear masks for several reasons, such as personal values and beliefs. Although people are allowed to think what they wish, there’s also a degree of not really understanding the scientific aspect of why it’s so important to have this certain action be done as a community.

There are some people you won’t be able to convince no matter what, but there are some who are willing to listen, as long as they understand what you’re trying to communicate. There is an abundance of research that’s being done and a lot of times, you don’t hear about it. Because for instance, you either don’t understand the ideas that are being argued or the information just isn’t accessible. For us and ArtSci, we want to sort of have a centralized place where the research was going to be presented in a way that people could easily understand it with no exclusions. 

You two provide an interesting perspective with Biomedical Art, what made you think of incorporating art into your studies? 

Terry: For me, it’s always been about how easily you can communicate things. If you think of an art museum, or even like a location such as the Natural Science Museum, everything that you see there, you’re not going to see paragraphs and paragraphs of texts. Instead, you’re going to see vibrant exhibits, diagrams and models which are all presented to help visually communicate what the researcher is attempting to argue or convey. At these sorts of spots, you’re not going there to read articles on whatever it is that they are presenting, instead it is presented in a physical concept. A lot of these creative disciplines are very linked to the way we think and the way we talk and the way we communicate with each other. If I say the word apple, you’re not going to think of the word apple; you would think of the actual physical object associated with the word.

Things like that are very important. Just in the way that we communicate as people, presenting things in a way that’s like all very technically correct, in terms of, you know, lots of text, lots of figures, diagrams, and statistics, it doesn’t always immediately click in terms of like, what’s actually being presented and it being completely understood. For myself, I’ve had experiences like this happen such as when I was sitting in a lab meeting, and I was being shown tons of graphs and charts. At the time, I was listening to my lab mates discuss the research that they were doing and I zoned out completely. I had no idea what they were talking about, even though everything was written I had retained none of the information. This is something that I face on a day-to-day basis, but with creative disciplines, it delineates from this monistic way of thought.

Naman and Terry are leaning against a railing standing side by side.

How do you feel as if you’re going to adapt and integrate new ideas into the art side? What is the vision like for that right now?

Naman: That’s a great question for our future team. They are very much interested in expanding our original vision. I will say our first plan was a little bit delusional and a little bit naive. We were thoughtful in our planning, but we were overshooting the hell out of it. But I think the new team realizes the mistakes that we made because the people who were on the new team also worked on the old team.

The new team was there to watch which steps we took in order to actualize our original vision. For example, the new team is already aware of hiring more people to help out with communication, because there are plenty of scientists and researchers at the University, but there’s not enough people to actually sit down and communicate the ideas. So being able to have a more diverse group of people to communicate that research to me, is very important. 

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Story by:
Lucas Taylor, graduate English education 

Photography by:
Ashley Craven, sports and communication major

What Hispanic Heritage Month Means for Jeremy Arias

Jeremy is sporting a sweatshirt with his fraternity letters on it and is sitting down in some greenery with his arms spread open.

From Sept. 15 – Oct. 15, Hispanic Heritage Month is not only a celebration, but is also a time of recognition for the many people in the United States and beyond. In our conversation with Jeremy Arias, a junior majoring in Finance from North Bergen, NJ, we learned more of his own unique Rowan experience. In our dialogue with Jeremy we learned more of his leadership qualities as the president of a fraternity on campus (Alpha Phi Delta) as well as what his own Hispanic heritage means for himself. 

What aspects here at Rowan motivated your decision to spend your higher education here? 

The main thing was the environment. All my life I had been going to school with people I know. For example, the same kids I went to elementary school with were also in my high school. I think that’s why most people choose colleges that are so far away.

In my case, I transferred all the way from Indiana. I wanted to be away from home and meet new people. I think that going to Rowan, I was still home in New Jersey but I was still far enough from home where I could be around new people instead of surrounding myself with people I already knew. I still got the best of both worlds here at Rowan University.

Jeremy Arias is leaning against the Rowan Barnes and Noble with his fraternity letters on him.

What was the transition like transferring into Rowan? 

I can definitely say it was a decently difficult transition. When I transferred I did end up missing the spring orientation. At this time, Covid was especially prevalent too so I was put into the transfer floor of Holly Pointe on the 7th floor. There was nobody living there except for my one neighbor. I didn’t even have a roommate, I was living in a double room by myself. Even when I went to all the programs like RAH (Rowan After Hours), they would have bingo or other activities but it was still all online so you really couldn’t meet people in the usual way. It was hard to get in touch with people because of everything being online, but it was an experience nonetheless.

Why did you choose to major in Finance? 

The reason that I wanted to get into finance was because I grew up in a town that was across the water from New York. You see a city like that and you see how it’s run all by money, like Wall Street for example. It’s a big corporate town, but I knew that I wanted to be a part of something bigger like that one day. I wanted to be one of those people that have the distinction, the titles and of course, the wealth as well.

I feel like part of the reason that I wanted to be a part of an environment like that was because I’ve always wanted to be a part of a higher purpose. I’ve always wanted to be in places of greater importance and opportunity.

Jeremy can be seen hanging around the boulevard talking with friends.

What have you enjoyed the most about Rowan so far? 

What I’ve enjoyed the most about Rowan has to be the community. It’s not a big school but it feels so big because of the people. For me, it doesn’t matter how large or small a school is as long as the people there are large in personality or attitude. You always feel at home. There’s so many different people out there and they make the world larger than it is. Between the school programs and the boulevards and all the other opportunities that Rowan has to offer, it definitely is a close knit community.

The people here are larger than life itself. They want to involve you so much within the community. Even though you might feel isolated at times, you’ll always find a home in the community. 

Could you tell us a bit more about your Fraternity? 

I’m currently in the fraternity Alpha Phi Delta, which is an Italian heritage fraternity that was founded on Nov. 5, 1914. We chartered here at Rowan University in the 1970s. We were deactivated and then reinstated in 2017. While we may be one of the few fraternities that have been here for so long, we’re still building. As of now, we’re five years strong and excited for the future.

Even though we might not have as many brothers as other fraternities on campus there’s a beauty in it. All of the brothers are so close knit and really know each other. It’s just like a big family.

I definitely think it’s been quite a ride; I came in knowing nothing and then you come out and become a brother and you know everything about everyone. It’s like a circle of life. You have to learn everything about the brothers but eventually they become your best friends. As a new person comes in, you almost feel old. You were in the same spot as them only a few years ago. You become almost like the old wise guy. On another note, rush Alpha Phi Delta. 

Jeremy is holding up a soccer jersey and smiling at the camera.

How did you come into your leadership position within your fraternity? 

During elections, there were a couple of us running but I think that most people felt the most confident in me and my vision for the future. I ended up winning by only one vote but I had all the confidence in the world in myself that I had a shot at it but I understand why people were skeptical. I had just recently become a brother but I had a plan with how I wanted to steer the fraternity. A lot of the guys who had been in the fraternity at the time were involved during Covid, we were just getting out of it and there were certain things that unfortunately couldn’t work anymore.

But I knew the direction that I wanted to take everyone. I won the election by one vote and told everyone of my plans and really won them all over. I was one of the youngest presidents in the fraternity’s history. There’s definitely a learning curve and there is a much needed adjustment period. You think the whole presidency thing is all fun and dandy but there are so many different responsibilities. People depend on you. It’s still fun, but it was an awakening. I knew I wanted to be president. I wanted to shoot for the top. It’s everything I wanted out of it.

Jeremy is throwing peace signs and smiling at the camera.

How has your experience as President of your fraternity changed your framework of mind? 

I definitely feel like my leadership has steered the fraternity in the right way internally. There is a lot more work to be done, especially in the upcoming semester, but there’s a lot of things that we’re all really excited about.

My leadership is built upon a lot of values that I really believe in. I think that with hard work it gives you a sense of satisfaction. You work hard and when the job gets done you can sit down, reflect and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

What motivated you to take up a leadership position in your fraternity? 

My mentor in the fraternity was the previous president of the fraternity. I saw all the work that he had done and all the leadership qualities that he exhibited. At one point, he told me that he had “picked me because he thought that I was worthy of this.” It resonated with me. I always want to be a part of a higher purpose and that was my calling. It was great for my confidence and I knew I had people who knew that I had potential.

Could you tell us a bit about your hispanic heritage?

My mother is Venezulean, she grew up in Caracas. My dad is Colombian, he was born in Bogota. He moved with my Aunt and Uncle to Venezuela where he eventually met my mother. Together from there they made their way to the United States.

Jeremy is holding up a book and pointing to his families home country of Venezuela.

How has your family incorporated aspects of your hispanic heritage into your life? 

In every aspect of my life. The language, the values, the prevalence of family. Of course, especially the food as well. I’m a huge fan. I think everything really when it comes down to ethics and values. I attribute a lot of my drive and hard work to that type of upbringing. Everything they taught me was all I’ve ever known my entire life.

What does being Hispanic mean to you? 

To me, it means being a part and representing an ethnicity that is filled with culture and life. There are so many colorful things that go with being Hispanic, the culture especially. My parents came here with nothing and worked for everything that they have. It’s kind of a representation for the entirety of the Hispanic culture. Some of us have come from nothing. A lot of work, so hard for everything that we have.

That’s the Hispanic way. It’s a hardworking and yet such a loving, family-oriented community.

How do you involve your Hispanic heritage into your daily life? 

I think that I involve it in every way possible. For example, every morning I make a Hispanic breakfast. When I’m in class, I’m working as hard as I can so that eventually I can go home and show my parents, “Look at my grades, this is all for you guys.” The way that I’m around people, I treat them all like family. I love being around people, it’s amazing what happens when you treat people the way that you want to be treated.

Jeremy can be seen in the Rowan Barnes and Noble holding up books that discuss about different countries flags.

What are your favorite parts about your Hispanic heritage? 

It has to be the food, the language and the people. What I love the most about the Hispanic culture is that there is no such thing as one “Hispanic.” Even with dialect as well, Colombian Spanish isn’t the same as Venezuelan Spanish or even Ecuadorian, Dominican and Puerto Rican. They are all so different but at the end of the day there is one root for it all. There’s still enough similarities where you can understand what the other person is attempting to convey. We’re all so different but we’re also all the same.

How has your heritage influenced your identity as a person? 

I think that the part of my Hispanic heritage that has influenced my identity the most is probably the family aspects. It’s such a loving community, like I said earlier, I’m a people person, I treat everyone like family. That’s just how I am. The discipline and the hard work has ingrained itself into me. In my opinion, every Hispanic has had that ambition and drive at one point in their life. I feel like that’s something that makes up my identity. I’m always striving for better because I always want more out of life. I want that not just out of me, but also everyone around me.

I gotta say though, the Hispanic food has definitely made up a large portion of my identity. It’s my favorite! Lastly, I think the idea of always making someone proud has made up a huge chunk of my own self. With my parents, they continue to work hard and give me everything that I have to help me in life. They still are guiding me down this path for as much as they can. I just want to be in a position of success where I can say “Hey Mom and Dad, I did this for you and I hope you’re proud of me.”

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Story by:
Lucas Taylor, Rowan Global student in Graduate English Education program

Photos by:
Ashley Craven, junior sports communication and media major

    Beyond the Classroom: Finance Major Annabella Halbruner’s Summer Internship “Everything I Could Have Asked for to Prepare for Future Career”

    Annabella is standing in front of the Rohrer College of Business.

    Internships provide a glimpse of what to expect out of the specific field one might be interested in as well as providing a hands-on experience that wouldn’t be possible anywhere else. For senior Finance major Annabella Halbruner from Cape May, NJ, we discussed her experience so far as an intern at HFM Financial Advising as well as how her direct involvement has shifted her perspective with her career. 

    I see that you’re a transfer student, how was your transition from your previous school? 

    It was very smooth even though it was during Covid. I transferred after my freshman year ended in 2020. So coming in, there was no one on campus.  Rowan was pretty much all online. But I got a federal work study on campus and that integrated me really well. I was really able to see how many resources Rowan has to offer, which ultimately led me to choosing my major and deciding what I wanted to do.

    I chose Rowan because of it not being too far from home, the price being right, and it still being a decent-sized school. When I came into Rowan, I still wasn’t sure of what I wanted to do, but Rowan provided me with a plethora of different opportunities to choose from.

    What made you decide to transfer to Rowan? 

    I honestly think the student body really affected my choice. I have a close friend who had been going to Rowan for a while, so I had been on campus quite a bit already. The student body is probably my number one reason. Just seeing the diversity and knowing that you can be friends with people that are so different from you is really inspiring. There are so many different opportunities to meet all of these different people that you really just have to give it a chance.

    Annabella is leaning on the Business Hall sign and smiling.

    What’s been your experience like at Rowan?

    I’ve seen that there are a lot of different opportunities. I’ve said this already, but it’s something that I really harp on for Rowan. At Rowan, there’s always going to be something that you’re going to be interested in as long as you open your eyes and look for it. For example, if you take a look there are a lot of adjunct professors that share similar sentiments where they might be totally different things than what they originally majored in for school. There are so many different unique perspectives and stories at Rowan it’s very telling that not everything is what you expect. 

    I’m also a part of the Rowan Real Estate Group; that group of students has been great for me. The students have been so helpful with just reaching out and trying to get more people involved on a daily basis. I feel like being a part of that club has really helped me branch out and meet new people. It’s great to hear you’re doing a great job from professors, but getting to hear it from another student is something else entirely.

    I’m also a part of the Rowan Equestrian Team. I think that a lot of my confidence has come from that team just because it really is such a supportive group of people. It’s a club sports team, so we’re all competing on a daily basis. It’s not just a group of friends hanging out — we do have our moments of just having a good time, but at the end of the day we always have each other’s back. The sport itself, horseback riding, is also just tough and hard on your heart. You have to accept the days where you’re not doing your best. Eventually though, all of the hard work pays off.  

    Annabella is turning her body towards the camera and smiling.

    What drew you to finance? 

    I transferred into Rowan not really knowing what I wanted to do. Even with that, I still had an idea and knew that the business world would be a good safety net with the many different avenues that it has. In my opinion, I think that business is in every industry in a sense. I started off in pre-business and worked my way from there. I started exploring the different classes that were offered that I would be intrigued in. I started to narrow into Finance because of how interesting it was. I’ve always been good with money, and I thoroughly enjoy math. Accounting was also an option I was thinking of pursuing. For the Finance major you have to take a course called Statistics 2. I had a professor that I had in another class that was great for me and if I was able to take the course with her, Mrs. Catherine Dickinson, I figured it was meant to be. I’m really glad I went through with it.

    I’ve been able to attend the Finance and Accounting Expo that happens every fall. I was able to talk to employers to see what the world was like. The department that I’m a part of right now is responsible for helping people achieve their financial goals and find satisfaction in life. I really like helping people, especially with money, because of how many people don’t know what it means to manage wealth.

    Why did you select your current internship? 

    The final thing that really drew me in was that they had a woman as the head of financial advisors. They also had a bit of a younger crowd; my direct supervisor is only 24 years old. We have two other full time employees who are both 22. Both of them are graduates from Rowan. There is also another intern who came shortly after me who is 20. From there we have a bit of a diverse crowd from 30 to 60 years old. I think that is what drew me in the most; it’s not just going to be people who have been in the industry for 30-40 years and then me. It was definitely a good balance for learning.

    Can you describe in detail what your internship entails? 

    It’s a smaller company so the day-to-day does change a little bit. A typical day means to come in and catch up with how everyone is doing personally and work wise. For me, I do a lot of the background work for clients so we’ll have a client come in that day for a review meeting and I have to do all of the prep work. So ahead of time, I’ll go through notes from previous meetings to see if there was anything left open and that we should bring up during the meeting. We’ll also see if there are any documents that we need to request ahead of time, so I’ll send an email around a week or two in advance of the meeting. For example, I’ll send an email inquiring about a document that deals with taxes for the year.

    All of this prep work is done so that hopefully, if they send all that stuff, I can bring it all to the financial advisor before the meeting to see if there is anything else left to do. We show them how investments are doing and keep them heavily involved through the entirety of the process. We always make sure to ask them if they have any questions or need any help with understanding what is going on, which I really appreciate, it’s a very confusing subject but making sure everyone is on the same page is something you won’t find at most places. 

    Annabella is in front of the Rohrer College of Business giving a slight smile at the camera.
    Annabella Halbruner is a senior Finance major from Cape May, New Jersey.

    I also do a ton of recapping and follow up afterwards. So a lot of the time clients will come in with inquiries like “I’m thinking of buying a house, what is feasible for that?” or even “We just had a kid, do we need life insurance now?” Whatever it may be, I do the research on what they might want to do and then present it to the financial advisor. I then draft up the follow up email and if they approve of it, I can send it out. We also do a lot of retirement funds and 401ks. It deals with answering questions and presenting all of the different options that they have.

    With being so heavily involved even as just an intern, it makes me feel extremely excited, and I appreciate the company so much for it. A lot of internships wouldn’t get you facing clients as quickly as mine did. I’ve learned a lot and I think that they do it because you can learn from watching and paying attention in those meetings and doing all the follow ups. You’re going to have a ton of questions mainly because you don’t know everything. 

    What have you taken away so far from your experience as a financial advisor intern?

    The biggest thing is that you’re always going to be learning. You do not know everything and you will not know everything. It’s ok to say that to a client; they appreciate honesty more than you would expect. For example, “I’m not 100% sure off the top of my head, I know a couple of things but let me do a bit more research before I give you a final answer”. It’s completely appropriate and not even just for clients, to your bosses or anyone. It’s okay to be wrong or admit that you don’t know everything but still have the motivation to do the necessary research. HFM (HFM Financial Advising) is such an empathetic and understanding company, and I’m so grateful that I’m in an environment like this. 

    Annabella has her head down and studiously writing.

    How do you think this internship will help you prepare for your future career? 

    I think it’s absolutely everything that I could have asked for to prepare for my future career. I do want to go into financial advising, so I plan on taking the CFP exam after graduation. There are a couple of courses I want to take for it as well but Rowan doesn’t necessarily have it. At HFM, there are three or four advisors that have already passed it and gone through it, so I’m really relishing the idea of picking their brains about it. Getting the knowledge that I’ve learned while doing the career so far has been great.

    What words of advice would you give to another student looking for an internship and the expectations that come along with it? 

    My biggest advice for coming into an internship is to not only be on ProfJobs, Indeed or LinkedIn. You can actually go around locally and make phone calls to smaller businesses that you’d be interested in learning about. You can still pick their brain even if an internship doesn’t fall through. You’re allowed to ask questions from people about their career and take advice that might resonate with you. Networking is an essential part of any career in my opinion, but sometimes you have to get off the beaten path of applying.

    Annabella is leaning on the railing at the Rohrer College of Business,

    Being proactive with your search and creating the opportunity is such a big thing with internships. A lot of the time these companies don’t even realize how big of a help having an intern on the team does. Once you’re starting, my biggest advice is to have a notebook and digest everything that is going around you. You might think you’ll remember what’s going on at the moment, but everything is complicated. Write down everything now because it’ll help separate you from others.

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    Story by:
    Lucas Taylor, graduate English education major 

    Photography by:
    Ashley Craven, sports communication and media major

    Inclusive Education Prepares Teachers to Meet the Needs of All Students [VIDEO]

    Gabriella Lugo is diligently working with a student in a classroom.

    Junior Gabriella Lugo defines inclusive education as a “special education combined with elementary education to make an inclusive classroom.” The inclusive education program prepares its students by providing them the opportunity to earn a license in Elementary Education as well as having them become certified as a Teacher of Students with Disabilities (TOSD). 

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    Rowan Vocals Provides Students A Support System While Producing Beautiful A Capella [VIDEO]

    “We dance, we sing and yeah, we’re a nice big family and we like to have fun,” says Christopher Scire, the vice-president and music director of Rowan Vocals. Rowan Vocals prides itself on its interweaving community providing connections, lasting bonds, and an escape of the daily grind from people of various different majors.

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    #PROFspective: Noor Baig and Her Journey in Graphic Design

    Noor and a classmate review film.

    In our conversation with Noor Baig, a junior commuter from Cherry Hill (Camden County), we learn of her own career path in graphic design. Noor shares insights on her Studio Art major and details some of the expectations in the various classes offered. 

    Why did you pick Rowan? 

    For the most part, I had picked Rowan because it was nearby and commuting is really important for me since I have an older parent. Besides that, as an art major, I had gone through their website and viewed student work which was definitely super interesting for me, along with the fact that Jan, the (now retired) head of Rowan’s Graphic Design department was emailing me through high school during my application and interview process and was incredibly helpful, friendly and personable. I had really felt that Rowan would give me the best chance to become a better student and artist.

    What aspects here at Rowan made you know that this was the place you wanted to be?

    Rowan was super welcoming from the start as I had met and communicated with multiple professors before my acceptance. The professors really accepted me and believed in my potential to become a better artist. I was able to build a really great rapport with a lot of my professors as well which makes the learning environment super friendly and helps to build a great community within the studio.

    When I started attending classes, which usually for any studio courses are relatively small with 10-20 people maximum, I noticed how the professors are really open to learning about your artistic processes. The professors don’t just talk at you and expect you to just work, they really pull the best out of you and try to inspire you. 

    Noor is reaching for an item to help with her developing some film.

    What have been your favorite moments so far on campus?

    There are so many cool things to go and explore on campus. You’re coming out of high school, you’re a kid who was probably driven around everywhere and everything is really close by. With coming to Rowan and everything being so big you kind of realize you’re on your own now. I think that having that realization was cool but I think a lot of my favorite moments were the smaller ones. When you build up such a rapport with your professors and peers the class becomes more personable. You look forward to going to these different classes every week.

    Seeing people of similar interests and working together with them builds inspiration within the class. The camaraderie that I had with my classmates is something that I always look back fondly on. It’s really nice to have such a community and have it reinforced with everyone involved.

    Noor and a classmate review photo negatives.

    What drew you to Studio Art?

    Since I was young, most likely 11 or 12, I’ve been infatuated with art. Even now at home I have art in every room in my house, it’s kind of like an impromptu art gallery from the art that I’ve collected over the years. When I was in high school around my junior or senior year I had some friends who were also getting into the art scene, probably because they had a couple other art friends and we were all influencing one another. I had a couple of friends ask me if I would be interested in buying some of my art or set up commissions for creating art. I started to get into it. I’ve always been passionate about little details like fonts or calligraphy so I started getting routine commissions that dealt with painting or cards. I would advertise locally to my friends and teachers. Selling art was definitely a big thing for me.

    Before, I hadn’t even thought I was going to go to college because of finances and other reasons. But selling art and seeing how art brings people together and its impact was a huge game changer for myself. I started to realize how much I liked it; the entire process of creating something with other people. It just made me want to continue doing more and more. I had found out more about graphic design and what Rowan had to offer. I started to realize that this possibility was within my reach and it inspired me to keep going.

    However, art is always a hard thing. There’s always anxiety with job security but with graphic design, an applied art, it relieves that tension. Finding out about the opportunities that graphic design could give me and my own personal passions with the process of creating and discussing art pushed me forward to major in Studio Arts. The major is so welcoming. I knew that if I went to art school and had professors that were experienced enough, I would learn more efficiently than I would if I tried to manage it all by myself. Getting my degree would diversify my own abilities and make me better prepared to meet the goals I set out for myself. 

    Since the beginning, I always had my foot in every door that I could. I never really stuck directly to one thing. As cool as that was to experience, it prevents you from sticking onto one path. You have half-finished and half-learned skills. By going to college, it gave me the goal that I could run without having to stray from that path. Even that goal, the way that Rowan structures studio art, it’s very generalized, it forces you to try a little bit of everything. I feel a lot more confident in different things in comparison to before.

    Noor is standing in a doorway cupping a camera.
    Noor, a sophomore commuter from Cherry Hill, (Camden County) has recently developed an interest in photography from a class she took this spring semester.

    How do you view your major making a difference for others? 

    I think that art is so critical to culture, especially across time. People left different marks thousands of years ago that let us know so much now. I think that art is a hallmark of specific cultures, communities and people. The art that you make as an artist ultimately defines you. Your own art allows for others to try and peer into the type of vision that you have, what you see or are attempting to see, it marks you and defines you. By being an artist, specifically a graphic designer, I’ve always had this desire to help people out the best way I can. With graphic design, a lot of it has to do with solving problems. We solve visual problems and we help to express different ideas. We push ideas forward and help to conceptualize it and bring people together. Art as a whole is very communal, it bridges different gaps and illustrates solutions.

    What classes have left the biggest impression on you? 

    There’s one class that comes to mind. There’s an Expressive Drawing class with Dr. Appelson, we affectionately call him Doc, it’s like an art bootcamp. Usually, you take it in the spring semester of your freshman year and it’s quite a class. Dr. Appleson has you do a lot of work every single week and he’s teaching you so much as well. It’s stressful in the moment but you realize that it’s never just busy work. Everything that is assigned has you trying or learning something new. Dr. Appleson expects you to put your best foot forward.

    It’s tough, but you learn so much in the class. I really came into myself surrounding my style and everything. Funny enough, Doc has this saying where it’s one thing to see what’s on the paper or canvas, but it’s another when trying to figure out what’s going on in an artist’s head while you’re making the drawing. Doc is helping us to connect the art with the artist. While he’s tough in the class, he’s one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. He’s the unofficial mascot for Westby Hall. He always gave me so much great advice in the class and I made a lot of great work for my portfolio. It’s hard, but it’s so worth it for developing your skill set.

    Noor is preparing some film.

    What are some of the different expectations in your classes? 

    Graphic design especially is really big on expectations. Specifically, the way that the curriculum is structured and organized. Eventually the last thing that you do in Graphic Design is called Portfolio. This is a class where you work together with students and plan the group exhibit. Every senior who is in the Art major has to have their own exhibit but in graphic design it’s more of a collective.

    Everything that you do in graphic design is about organizing yourself and building up your final portfolio. The portfolio is super important for artists because it shows exactly what you’re bringing to the table. You’re showing yourself to your employer. Everything that is in it shows how diverse you’ve become since you’ve started, it shows packaging, typography, infographics, publications and things of that matter. It’s super organized and every little thing almost builds off of one another. 

    Out of all the classes you’ve taken so far with your major, what’s worked the best for you in learning the material? 

    I take a lot of studio classes, it’s more of a work time to try and explore everything. I love a good studio class; it’s super relaxing. I get into a very specific type of energy and just start powering through. It’s very liberating. Of course, professors are around for guidance if you ever need anything but I like to just keep going. Because of my own work ethic, I do have that sense of responsibility when it comes to assignments. So just being able to be on my own and knowing I have someone in my corner is super reassuring. I’m also a big fan of group critiques because of how everyone gets to voice their opinions. You get a lot of different perspectives that you may have not seen. There’s different ways of conducting critiquing but I think that working in a group and getting that extra feedback helps even my own outlook.

    Noor is holding her camera and is looking off.

    Are there any professors that you’ve had that stood out to you? Why?

    I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to build such a rapport with a lot of my professors that it’s kind of hard to pick just one out. They all have their own unique outlook which reflects in the class. I really appreciate a lot of my professors who create such a cohesive work environment. Everyone is so respectful of one another and keeps it all so casual. For example, I had a class called Color Theory with Professor Alicia Finger and everybody was in such deep contact with each other. Prof. Finger is a great communicator and it resonated with the class. It’s casual, but such a friendly work environment. As for teaching style, again Prof. Finger was great. We were able to talk out some of the different theories in class. Being in college, there’s a lot of freedom to come into yourself and discover one’s own interests. The professors understand this in the art sector and allow us to try and explore our own self. With my professors’ help I was able to commit to myself and find my own style.

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    Story by:
    Lucas Taylor, Graduate Education Major

    Managing Your Stress in an Ever-Changing Environment

    Carrie is sitting by the Rowan Boulevard with sunglasses on her face.

    This article is part of a running series with Rowan University’s Wellness Center. This collaboration aims to educate students about personal well-being options. For further updates, follow @RowanUWellness on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. In college, one of the biggest challenges for students is managing stress in difficult times like midterms or finals. With college, there are various […]

    Understanding and Accepting Our Own Trauma

    Lauren stands on the steps of Bunce Hall.

    This article is part of a running series with Rowan University’s Wellness Center. This collaboration aims to educate students about personal well-being options. For further updates, follow @RowanUWellness on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

    What is the first thing that comes to someone’s mind when they hear the word “trauma?” For a majority of people, they most likely think of devastating events such as war, sexual assault, or even a car accident that could forever alter someone’s life.

    Although all of these events fit the criteria for traumatic experiences, this is far from the defining limits of it. In actuality, trauma can be described as any distressing event that impacts one’s ability to cope and control what is going on in their lives (Barbash, 2017). 

    Lauren is sitting on the stairs of Bunce Hall.

    There are two general categories that trauma can be divided into, which are “Big T” Trauma and “Little t” trauma. “Big T” Trauma can be defined as the type of trauma that aligns with the examples that were aforementioned. It is associated with one significant event that often leaves the individual in severe distress and feeling powerless because they don’t have control over their immediate environment. “Big T” Trauma can be debilitating and may also be the precursor to a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (Barbash, 2017).

    On the other hand, “Little t” trauma is formed by a congregation of events that over time result in emotional disturbance and difficulty coping. This type of trauma covers a wide variety of situations such as infidelity in a relationship, financial struggles, and bullying. Specifically, an example of someone experiencing “Little t” trauma would be hearing negative comments about themselves over a long period of time. This could impact their own self-image, their framework and control over their life and result in emotional damage, which are key characteristics of trauma responses. 

    Lauren is leaning against the Bunce Hall building and smiling.

    Recognizing one’s own trauma may be difficult, especially in the case where one’s own hardships have been normalized through repeated exposure. Here are some steps to take to begin the process of realizing trauma and healing from it.

    To start off, the process can best be begun by taking a moment to recognize the feelings one is experiencing.

    Once those feelings are identified, one should accept these strong emotions and allow themselves to feel them. Now it is time to investigate these emotions into a deeper analysis by thinking about the specific sensations, thoughts, images, and feelings that arise (Firestone, 2017).

    The final step in the process is to not let these thoughts, feelings, and experiences define oneself; what someone went through in the past may impact the way they are able to cope, but the reality is that these events are not a defining factor of one’s identity and worth.

    Lauren is sitting on the grass smiling directly at the camera.

    This part, along with the other steps in the process, can take a long time and that is perfectly fine. Everyone’s experiences are different and it would be unfair to compare one’s healing process to another because none of them have dealt with the same thoughts and feelings. Remember: no type of trauma will be easy to cope with and taking the time to accept one’s trauma is an important first step in the healing process.

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    Story by:
    Lauren Vitale, Senior Psychology Major, French Minor, Honors Concentration, Wellness Center intern

    Photography by:
    Ashley Craven, Sports Communication and Media Major

    Produced by:
    Lucas Taylor, Senior English Education Major

    Unplug and Live a Great (Offline) Life

    Rachel is smiling upwards and is in-between some shrubbery.

    This article is part of a running series with Rowan University’s Wellness Center. This collaboration aims to educate students about personal well-being options. For further updates, follow @RowanUWellness on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

    It’s no secret that people spend time on their phones. It just so happens that it is a lot. However, how much of it can be considered a bad thing?

    Considering the fact that excessive time spent online, specifically with social media, has resulted in increased mental health issues and distorted views on real life (Robinson & Smith, 2021), it can be wise to say that how a person uses and the amount of time spent online and through social media can impact their emotional health.

    Rachel is standing out front of Bunce Hall.

    Even if it’s for 30 minutes or an hour a day, there needs to be effort to unplug routinely. However, one might find it difficult to fill in the time spent online with something new.

    That being said, here are five tips on living a great (offline) life! 

    1. Develop a hobby: Feeling the need to check those social media notifications? Replace it with finding a new hobby to enjoy. Whether it’s a current hobby or something new to try out, focus on that hobby whenever there’s that compulsive need. 
    2. Go outside: Another simple tip is to just simply go outside. While spending time online frequently, spending time in nature is a great way to unplug. Even a simple walk can help lead to increased mental health benefits (Weir, 2020). 
    3. Spend time with friends and family: While it’s easy to connect with friends and family online, nothing can compare with connecting in person (Robinson & Smith, 2021). Whether it would be catching up over coffee or having a game night (safely, of course!), the time spent together can help foster an improved emotional and social well-being. 
    4. Learn to improve time management skills: Be intentional with spending time both online and offline by mastering time management. Try to divide up time between time spent online or scrolling through social media with dedicated times to unplug and just be. 
    5. Practice self-care: Trade in that screen time with self-care time! Several of the mental health issues can be helped with practicing mindfulness and self-care (Robinson & Smith, 2021). Recognizing that can help make better improvements on how a person can manage their screen time and live their best life. 

      Rachel is sitting on the Bunce Hall stairs.

        References

        Robinson, L. & Smith, M. (2021, October). Social media and mental health. HelpGuide. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/social-media-and-mental-health.htm 

        Weir, K. (2020). Nurtured by nature. Monitor on Psychology, 51(3), 50. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2020/04/nurtured-nature 

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        Story by:
        Rachael Owen, junior public health and wellness major, Wellness Center intern

        Photography by:
        Ashley Craven, sports communication and media major

        Produced by:
        Lucas Taylor, senior English education major 

        Spirituality: Discovering Your Own Faith

        Leah is sitting outside on stairs at Rowan.

        This article is part of a running series with Rowan University’s Wellness Center. This collaboration aims to educate students about personal well-being options. For further updates, follow @RowanUWellness on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

        Religion has always been an integral part of human culture and continues to be present in the lives of many, providing a sense of community, faith and purpose. While religious practices can be very beneficial, there are still many people who do not feel connected to or welcomed by various denominations and instead, seek out an alternate path.

        Spirituality and religion, though they may seem interchangeable, are completely separate, with spirituality focusing more on an inward journey and understanding rather than external worship. Christina Puchalski, MD, a leader in incorporating spirituality into healthcare, explains, “Spirituality is the aspect of humanity that refers to the way individuals seek and express meaning and purpose and the way they experience their connectedness to the moment, to self, to others, to nature, and to the significant or sacred.”

        Leah is sitting down outside on campus.

        Spirituality is an inclusive approach that embraces connectivity to forces larger than the self, and without the rigidity of traditional religious institutions, gives individuals the freedom to worship in the way that works best for them. Often called the “pathless-path,” spirituality is unique to each individual and may involve connecting to a higher state or resonating with the belief in a higher power.

        Leah is leaning against a wooden fence and smiling at the camera.
        Leah Mahon a senior psychology major, is from Ocean County, NJ.

        Spiritual practices including meditation, yoga and contemplation allow individuals to explore a consciousness-based worldview that values love and kindness above all. Studies have shown that individuals with any form of belief in a higher power were shown to use their religious or spiritual practice as a way to cope with life stressors. This form of coping is very beneficial, improving feelings of well-being, decreasing stress and depression, and even decreasing one’s fear of death and dying.

        Leah is standing outside with her hands in her pockets.

        Spirituality not only serves to improve one’s overall health and wellness, but provides a path based on one unifying force, where everyone has the freedom to discover their own faith and where no one is left out.

        Story by:
        Leah Mahon, senior psychology major, Wellness Center intern

        Photography by:
        Stephanie Batista, junior business management major

        Produced by:
        Lucas Taylor, senior English education major

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        What Rowan Offers: Accepted Students Day

        A family is posing in front of the Accepted Students Day setup and is smiling.

        From this past Accepted Students Day, Rowan University welcomed hundreds of future students to experience what the campus has to offer with a vast array of different events, information on clubs and student life, and opportunities to meet other potential students. In our interviews with these prospective students, we uncovered their reasons for why Rowan could be their future four-year university and what college means for them. 

        The next generation of Rowan students brings an exciting perspective eager to take on new challenges. Whether they are freshly graduated high school students or transfers, many of these students are still pondering their own choices as to where to head for their higher education; but in our conversations, we learned of their own dreams and aspirations. 

        An array of accepted students are posing in different positions.

        For some of the students when asked “Why Rowan?” or “Why college?,” they had an immediate response in regards to their future careers. In the case of future international transfer student, Sophie O., she was drawn to Rowan’s Psychology program. Transferring from Delaware County and originally from Nigeria, Sophie is fueled to help others and future teenagers who do not have the resources to cope with their own mental health issues. 

        Sophie is posing on Bunce Green with her Rowan goodie bag in hand.
        Sophie O., is an international transfer student from Delaware County and Nigeria who is planning on majoring into Psychology at Rowan.

        Already, students are preparing their own core values for their future career and are motivated by empathy in creating a better environment for all. 

        In another conversation with Vivianne N., an accepted student who was drawn to the university due to her family’s own heritage with the school, we learned of Vivianne being unsure as to what to expect for the future. But as she says in her own advice to students, she believes that “students should make a stable plan and live accordingly to it.” Vivianne is a future Rowan student who is entering the Graphic Design program. 

        Vivianne is giving a peace sign and smiling on Bunce Green.
        Vivianne N. is a future Rowan student who is planning on enrolling into the Graphic Design program.

        Outside of thinking of their careers, many students are ready to embrace the college lifestyle and eagerly awaiting the different opportunities that can be found in extracurriculars. For accepted students Stephen L. of Collingswood, NJ (Camden County) and Skyler G. of Wayne, NJ (Passaic County), both are anticipating exploring the different intramural and club sports that the campus offers such as tennis and field hockey. 

        In our conversation with future Engineering student Colvin A. and and Physics major Victor A., we learned of their shared excitement in finding out about the different activities that Rowan has. Specifically, Colvin and Victor are especially looking forward to seeing the Robotics Club and possibly joining an intramural sport. 

        Victor Aretegra (pictured on the left) and his friend Colvin Abdaulkander (pictured on the right) are enrolling in the Physics and Engineering program respectfully.
        Victor A. (pictured on the left) and his friend Colvin A. (pictured on the right) are enrolling in the Physics and Engineering programs, respectfully.

        Outside of these factors, many students are also paying close attention to the financial portion of college. Many students are choosing Rowan due to it being close to home as well as the price of tuition. These components bring out difficult conversations, but many students are ecstatic over the various opportunities that Rowan has to ease the financial burden that comes with college such as in grants and scholarships. 

        For Dylan S. of Pittsgrove, NJ (Salem County), our interview with the future Education major with a concentration in Mathematics provided insight as to his own viewpoint on what scholarships mean for himself. We learned of his welcoming of these different chances of scholarships and treating more as challenges for himself. 

        An accepted student is posing with her mother in front of the balloon archway.

        During the Accepted Students Day fair, there was a reoccurring sense of pride in all of the students and parents attending. Even if Rowan won’t be their home for university, students and parents were enjoying themselves, happily checking out all of the different booths and venues at Bunce Hall. Students and parents were, and are, welcomed with open arms by Rowan University, allowing them all to enjoy an afternoon on campus and experience Rowan even for only one day. 

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        Story by:
        Lucas Taylor, Graduate Education Student
        Loredonna Fiore, public relations graduate

        Produced by:
        Lucas Taylor, Graduate Education Student

        Tapping into our Internal Monologue

        Maria is standing in front of a fountain smiling at the camera.

        This article is part of a running series with Rowan University’s Wellness Center. This collaboration aims to educate students about personal well-being options. For further updates, follow @RowanUWellness on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

        For the majority of people, it is safe to say that we have an inner dialogue in our head that goes off throughout the day. That little voice can be perceived as our self-talk, which is the given name to our internal monologue.

        Internal monologue is described as a combination of both conscious and subconscious feelings, thoughts and beliefs. 

        Maria is sitting with her legs crossed on the ground smiling at the camera.

        Self-talk is a natural process. Often, it can be seen as playing the role of many characters in our minds such as the critic, motivator and the conscious/ego. What we say to ourselves in a given moment, helps us frame or shift perspectives from ourselves as well as others.

        According to Psychology Today, whether your self-talk appears to be positive, negative or instructional, it still  affects our actions and behaviors. This can be seen as dependent on the different formations of evidence that aligns with our own personal values and beliefs, but the evidence that you choose to focus on is what helps influence and reinforces that said belief.

        Maria is leaning against a railing with her arms crossed.

        We make ourselves believe in certain notions; for example, that those around us think we are “weird.” Well, what’s the evidence for that? If we haven’t done anything “weird,” there’s nothing to back that thought up. In fact, the truth may be that the reason we haven’t been approached by a person is because they are just as anxious to make conversation as we are.

        So, what are we really telling ourselves? Think of it this way: choice of words matter. Whether it’s the dialogue going on in our head or if we are communicating with someone, the same way we may hurt someone’s feelings by making a negative comment can also hurt our own feelings as well.

        Instead of “I’m so stupid I did that and didn’t realize,” maybe try “I made a mistake, that’s okay — it’s part of being human. Next time, I’ll be more cautious.” It’s both the concept of reframing and allowing ourselves some grace that will help us maintain healthy self-talk. 

        Maria is leaning against a wooden fence and smiling.

        Story by:
        Maria Espejo, senior psychology major, Wellness Center intern

        Photography by:
        Stephanie Batista, junior business management major

        Produced by:
        Lucas Taylor, senior English education major

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        Period Poverty is the Unspoken Crisis

        Logan is posing on a bench in front of one of Rowan's buildings.

        This article is part of a running series with Rowan University’s Wellness Center. This collaboration aims to educate students about personal well-being options. For further updates, follow @RowanUWellness on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

        At any given moment, around 800 million people are menstruating. From this, we can determine that about 26% of the human population are menstruators. In addition, this number is trending to increase as the onset of puberty continues to occur at younger ages.

        Period poverty can be defined as a public health crisis that refers to the lack of access to menstrual hygiene and care products each month as well as inadequate education about the menstruation process.

        These deficiencies lead to unhealthy, or even dangerous, menstrual hygiene practices. The lack of menstrual products in circulation also leaves the well-being of millions of menstruators unable to execute their day-to-day tasks comfortably and even possibly lead to crucial harm to the body. As a result, menstruators across the globe are missing out on school or work activities, sometimes for the entire duration of their period. 

        Logan is sitting on the floor with her knee in between her hands while smiling at the camera.

        Period poverty is typically caused by menstruators being burdened with harsh impurity stigmas as well as suffering from economic inequalities. For example, in Pakistan, a 2017 poll indicated that 49% of young menstruators had no knowledge of menstruation before their first period. It is also common practice in Pakistan to use rags and cloths to take care of menses which are often shared between family members, leading to high risks of infection. In Ethiopia, 75% of menstruators do not have reliable access to products leading to 25% of menstruators simply going without using any. For most Ethiopian menstruators, sanitary products cost an entire day’s pay. The Period Poverty, which is already burdening Scotland, has undergone an increase due to the COVID-19 emergency, with 1 in 4 menstruators having experienced infection due to the lack of access to sanitary menstrual products. 

        A common misconception is that Period Poverty is a “far away” problem that only occurs in developing countries. In reality, Period Poverty is just as much of a public health crisis here in the United States with the main cause being due to impoverishment and economic inequality. In fact, 27 out of 50 states currently enact a luxury tax on menstrual products. As of 2020, 1 in 4 American menstruators struggle to afford period products leading to 1 in 5 menstruators missing school, work and day-to-day activities. COVID-19 has undoubtedly only inflamed these statistics along with the national poverty rates. 

        Logan has her arms crossed and her head tilted.

        So, what can be done to combat Period Poverty? There is a lot more to understanding why Period Poverty happens, such as policies, legislation, systemic and economic inequality, that complicate the process of rectifying these problems.

        Currently, there are countless organizations making efforts to ease the burden for impoverished menstruators. Some exceptional ones include Happy Period, Hate the Dot and Code Red Collective. Period Equity is a notable organization of lawyers who are dedicated to eradicating the tax on period products in the U.S. through policy, which would be a huge stride towards economic equality efforts.

        Logan is leaning against a railing in one of Rowan's buildings.

        Menstruation is such a common and relatable process that menstruators are typically told they should be ashamed of. Yet, it is quite literally the essence of human life that gave everyone existence. With that, everyone should be encouraged to remember that menstruator rights are human rights, and the unspoken burdens of Period Poverty are humanitarian issues that deserve to be heard.

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        Story by:
        Logan Johnson, junior biological sciences major, Wellness Center intern

        Photography by:
        Stephanie Batista, junior business management major

        Produced by:
        Lucas Taylor, senior English education major



        #TRANSFERmation Tuesday: A Conversation with Music Industry Major Emileigh Zane

        In this edition of #TRANSFERmation Tuesday, we learn more of Music Industry major Emileigh Zane of Penns Grove, NJ (Salem County). In this exchange, we learn more of her own experience as a transfer student as well as what motivated her to pursue a career inside the music industry. 

        Why did you pick Rowan? 

        I mostly picked Rowan for their music industry program. There are not that many schools that do have a music industry program. I know that in the state of New Jersey, only [two other schools] have one. So because Rowan is so close to me, I went through with it. I only live 40 minutes away from here, so I liked that aspect here that was somewhat close to home but still far enough away where I’m not too tempted to go home all the time (sorry Mom and Dad!). I really liked the program and what they were offering. I know a lot of people who have gone to school here and I’ve heard a lot of great things about it, so that kind of pushed me to go forward with that direction.

        Could you describe the journey it took you to get to Rowan? 

        The transfer process was actually super simple because I went to Rowan College of South Jersey, which is the school that Rowan is associated with. The transfer process was super easy, I just had to apply to Rowan. I’m pretty sure all of my credits transferred over because of that affiliation between those two schools. It was super simple and I didn’t have any problems.

        Emileigh is looking at a computer while typing on a keyboard.

        What aspects here at Rowan made you know that this was the place you wanted to be? 

        I like how many opportunities there are for involvement at Rowan. There are hundreds of clubs and Rowan After Hours. I’ve always been the type of person who’s been super involved at school, especially at high school. I was the girl that was in every club. I went to a very small high school so it was okay that I was involved in a lot, it was like a sense of community with everyone. I was a part of clubs that were focused on the arts, athletics and even academic-oriented ones. Looking back, I can say that I was really involved over there.

        When I got to community college I knew that I still wanted to be involved. So, at RCSJ (Rowan College of South Jersey), I was on the track team and it took up most of my time there. It was really fun, I met a lot of great people there. 

        When I got to Rowan University, I knew that I wanted this type of place where I can be involved and meet a lot of new people from it. I also really like Rowan’s campus. It’s a great medium-sized campus; it’s not too big and not too small. The fact that there are a lot of good food places nearby is great too!

        With being a transfer student, how included do you feel with the different events/clubs here on campus? 

        I feel super included, I’ve never really felt different as a transfer student. The only real disadvantage was that people have had more time to explore on campus than I have. Sometimes it takes me longer to discover new things on campus, but for the most part I feel like the school does a pretty good job about advertising all of the opportunities for students. I had an easy time just coming right in and finding clubs and groups that I wanted to be a part of on campus.

        Emileigh is sitting down on some gross with her legs crossed and smiling at the camera.

        What drew you to your major?

        I would say the big event that drew me to my major was when I was at Warped Tour in 2018. I was with my cousin and her girlfriend and they had entered this raffle to win backstage passes for one of the performers. They ended up winning the drawing so all three of us got to go backstage at Warped Tour and I got to see what happens behind the scenes, like the walkthrough location or the area where everybody is eating. During the tour, our guide showed us where even the green rooms were at and then we got to be backstage while 3oh!3 performed.

        Just seeing the environment with everybody working backstage like the lighting crew, the audio crew, the guitar technicians, just seeing it all from that perspective and seeing them perform with the crowd had captivated me. I knew that I wanted to do this and this was what I wanted to do with my life.

        Emileigh is standing out front of a sign at Warped Tour.
        After her experience with Warped Tour, Emileigh Zane became aware of how a career in the musical industry field could be her calling.

        How do you view your major making a difference for others?

        I think my major is very helpful, especially to people that are already trying to pursue it. If they are an artist themselves, you really get to see all of the behind the scenes things that really aren’t talked about. It’s not the fun stuff so it’s not what people are usually talking about. The music industry is a very traditional type of business. It’s really easy to get screwed over in the industry and make mistakes such as in the case of ambiguous contracts or labels. It’s started to change a little bit but just knowing how it works and learning how to take advantage will really boost your career with which I consider as super helpful. For example, there’s this one class called Music Publishing and it has to do with ownership of a song and how licensing and rights work with your song.

        I think that my major teaches you a lot of things that you would have to learn the hard way if you didn’t take the college route. You can take the proper precautions for starting your career or even if you just want to work on the business side of things, the teachings that we learn all deal with preventing common mistakes and setting ourselves up for future success. Just learning how to get the most money possible for yourself and your artist is great, but also learning without the whole trial and error experience is even better.

        Emileigh is standing in front of a brick background smiling at the camera.

        What has Rowan done to prepare you for the future, aka, post-academia? 

        I think that my major in particular has done a great job of giving me a lot of hands-on, relevant experience. I’m currently in a touring and concert promoting class, and it teaches us what it actually takes to put on a show. But then the other part of that class, and what I think is most helpful, is that we get to put on two shows as a part of that class as a part of our grade. 

        For our capstone projects, we have the freedom to do a lot of different things, whatever you’re interested you can do for the most part. For example, a lot of artists that I’m friends with do an EP (Extended Play) or album and other people have started artist management companies. For my capstone project, I’ve decided to do a one-day music festival called Better Now Music Festival. Currently, I’m looking for a local venue to book the show at as well as looking at many different local and semi-local artists. There’s still a lot to plan, but I also really like the idea of having a lot of activities, food trucks and some tables with helpful resources. It’s like my own little homage to Warped Tour in a way, I guess.

        What have been your favorite moments so far on campus? 

        My house shows with Rowan Alt (@rowanalternativemusic) are the most fun and enjoyable thing that I do on campus. I also went to see the Rowan jazz concert that they have every winter and spring. I went to one in the winter and it was really good. I was really surprised, I didn’t realize that the students were as good as they were. That jazz festival was really fun. Just getting to be involved with Rowan Music Group, that was really cool by itself too. If I could describe it, It’s like the Rowan record label that a lot of people don’t really know that we have, but we have. I have a lot of fun just hanging out with my roommate too, we’ll just be hanging around at our apartment.

        Emileigh is leaning on a railing and smiling directly at the camera with the sunset at her back.

        What’s the most interesting thing that you had learned during the transfer process?

        Most things that you may need help with are a simple ask away. I feel like a lot of people don’t realize that there are people out there willing to help you. Knowing how to ask for help in a nice way can get you pretty far.

        With everything that you know now, what advice would you give to your high school self in regards to college?  

        To just stay organized. I’m already a very organized person, but I think staying organized is really important because there are so many things that you’re trying to juggle between school, taking care of yourself and being involved. Just make sure that you are aware of all of the opportunities and that you take advantage of them. It’s very important to the entirety of the college experience.

        Story by:
        Lucas Taylor, English Education major

        Photography by:
        Valentina Giannattassio, first-year dance and marketing double major

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        The Often Overlooked Importance of Sleep

        Rob is pretending to be asleep on a couch.

        This article is part of a running series with Rowan University’s Wellness Center. This collaboration aims to educate students about personal well-being options. For further updates, follow @RowanUWellness on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

        College can oftentimes be perceived as an extremely stressful and busy point in a person’s life. More often than not, students can find themselves overwhelmed with an ever increasing workload. Between home life, classwork, employment outside of school and personal free time, it can be very difficult to find time in the day to fulfill all of these responsibilities while also attempting to find a balance with one’s personal life.

        Robert is attentively typing on his laptop.

        As a result, more students have been making the effort to make more time in the day as many students have been sacrificing their nightly amount of sleep to find more time. While this can increase available work time, decreasing the nightly sleep duration in actuality can become detrimental to every aspect of a student’s life and potential career in academia. 

        To state the obvious, sleep is a necessary component of our overall health. During sleep, our bodies release toxic wastes, restore energy and repair cells. These basic bodily functions serve as a refresh button for our bodies, allowing for that newly found energy after a refreshing night’s sleep.

        Robert's body is facing away from the camera but he is smiling directly at it.

        Not only does sleep benefit our physical health, but it is very closely connected to mental health as well. Inconsistent sleep patterns can cause strain on social activity and ability to focus on daily tasks and activities. The recommended amount of sleep for persons over the age of 18 is between 7-9 hours nightly; however, this can vary depending on the individual.

        Existing research on college students and their sleep habits suggests that a lack of sleep can be a common factor in increasing depressive symptoms. In addition, people suffering from depression also tend to have disrupted sleep patterns, leading to a cycle of worsening already existing depressive symptoms (Dinis & Bragança, 2018).

        The focus on the camera is panned on some academic material while Robert is in the background studying.

        Although college can be a busy time for the majority of students, time management is an important skill to have. Regardless of how tempting it can be, cutting down on nightly sleep will only cause more trouble than it’s worth.

        References

        Dinis, João, and Miguel Bragança. “Quality of Sleep and Depression in College Students: A Systematic Review.” Sleep science (Sao Paulo, Brazil) vol. 11,4 (2018): 290-301. doi:10.5935/1984-0063.20180045

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        Story by:
        Robert Zoroiwchak, junior psychology major, Wellness Center intern

        Photos by:
        Stephanie Batista, junior business management major

        Produced by:
        Lucas Taylor, senior English education major

        The Perspective and Path of International Student, Sarah Atai

        Sarah is smiling at the camera while being outside.

        With today’s feature, we highlight Sarah Atai, an international student from Uganda studying at the Rohrer College of Business. Sarah is in the works of completing her certificate of graduate study (COGS) for the business school and has aspirations of pursuing her MBA in the fall semester. In this discussion, we learn of Sarah’s non-profit work in her native country of Uganda, which formed her decision as to why she selected Rowan, as well as what the College of Business means to her.

        I understand that with you being an international student you must have had a wide variety of choices as to where to spend your higher education, what aspects here at Rowan helped you make your decision?

        So I originally wanted to do my MBA, but while I was looking at all the different schools of course there’s so many factors that hindered my going there, but I liked the fact that Rowan had this particular business certificate and according to them just from just reading the website they clearly put it out there that the certificate would give you an insight on the MBA/MS would entail. I think to me that is what I was looking for because as much as I wanted to enroll for the MBA, I was quite hesitant as to what I wanted to focus and major in. So I thought this would give me time to play around and grab a hold of myself to understand and make sure of what I really wanted to do. So, I thought the certificate would be the best alternative at the moment and that is why I enrolled. From the time I enrolled I was very grateful for the decision because of how great the professors have been and how informative the classes are.

        Sarah is sitting down and smiling directly at the camera.

        When did you realize that you had an interest in business?

        It was after working with the ministry that I got to fully realize that I think my passion for business is something that I can use later and to actually help out with non-profits. That is what pushed me to go back to school again because I really wanted to help out different ministries. I wanted to go out and be a part of the solution instead of waiting for it to come.

        In what ways has the College of Business prepared you for the next step in your professional career?

        Just sitting through the classes has really opened up my mind into the actual business world. I like the way that all of the classes that I’ve attended relate to the day-to-day world, like the actual career path. Of course there’s a point in time where we learn of the different elements of business but compared to learning and gaining some of the knowledge and relating that to current events, it has helped me realize and fully understand as to where business is actually made. I chose to opt for the certificate because I didn’t want to get into the MBA and get frustrated. But I think the certificate was the best blend for me to get the confidence to get the actual MBA.

        Sarah, with the sun at her back, is smiling at the camera.

        How was your experience with your non-profit in Uganda? 

        So the ministry that I used to work for, the Children Alive Ministry, is a non-profit and it is a part of one of the communities in Uganda. We work with children and run school programs. The afterschool model was based off of one of the organizations in the United States called Avenue Promise from somewhere here in New Jersey. We borrowed that model and tried to edit and integrate it into our own culture and see how it could fit for the community that we work in. Just choosing to work with these children was great to see how happy they were just going to school. We wanted to empower the parents through us looking after the children and have them create their own small businesses while we are giving their children different avenues of opportunity.

        What is your fondest memory here at Rowan?

        My fondest memory I would say would be my time that I have spent here with the business state programs. So the past semester the department had held different networking opportunities for the college of business. I think I would say that I loved each and everyone of them that I got to attend or had the opportunity to attend. I mean it’s unfortunate that I didn’t get to attend all due to the schedule or if something came up but I would say that I loved each and every networking event even when it was online. I appreciated talking to the different analysts or the guest speakers that came who spoke of their wisdom and experiences.

        For me, it is something that I could never have and was more than I could have asked for. Especially the people that were brought in for the panels; these were people who had really done so well with their lives as far as careers are concerned and just getting to hear from them was great. I would say that to me, it has been the most memorable just attending all of the different events and getting more wisdom and insight into what I really want to do. Hopefully, if I continue the MBA I hope to learn from the different people that are involved.

        Sarah is standing behind a wall with an intricate design.

        What words could you offer to other international students that are thinking of choosing Rowan for their higher education?

        I would say if anybody was confused and did not know what to do, I think that if they gave Rowan the chance that they would never regret it. Rowan has a great support system. I’ve looked at the different organizations and clubs and haven’t had the opportunity to look at them all but looked at the different websites and was amazed at all of the information and how they reached out. I’ll say that Rowan has great resources, the professors are very supportive and willing to work with individuals regardless of their situation.

        In my experience, my professors have been extremely open with communication and how they reached out to find an understanding of my perspective. From the very first class I loved how the professors had stressed how communicative and willing they were to help or listen to me. To me, this handling of these highly accomplished people to just talk and share insight to help us students move forward is something that I had not experienced before. The different resources and all the stuff to understand who and what you are is always available. It just depends on yourself to take the keys and start up the ignition and give Rowan a chance.

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        Story by:
        Lucas Taylor, English education major

        Photography by:
        Valentina Giannattasio, dance and marketing double major 

        Putting Ourselves First

        Erika is holding her hat with the Rowan logo plastered on it.

        This article is part of a running series with Rowan University’s Wellness Center. This collaboration aims to educate students about personal well-being options. For further updates, follow @RowanUWellness on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. With the life that we are given, it is easy to want to do tasks for the benefit of others. But, as […]

        #PROFspective: A Dialogue with English Education Major Lucas Taylor

        Lucas is smiling and staring away from the camera. There is a large blue sky behind him.

        With Rowan Blog’s latest release of #PROFspective, we converse with Lucas Taylor, a commuting senior English education major from West Deptford (Gloucester County). In our discussion with Lucas, we learn of his unique Rowan experience with his new job as a producer for Rowan Blog as well as his own motivation for pursuing higher education in English.

        What inspired you to choose your major?

        I originally didn’t want to be an English major; I didn’t really find it all too interesting until my senior year of high school. I was always good at writing and analyzing texts but never really took an interest in it until my teacher at the time had seen how proficient I was at it. She saw through me being lazy, and I suppose in a sense, that resonated with me. I wanted to do well to make her proud and at the end of the year I kind of realized that teaching was something I could spend my life doing. I owe a lot of my college career to that teacher and hope she’s doing well with her own life.

        How does your field impact the world? What impact would you like to have on the world in your field?

        I think teaching is a very admirable occupation. My mother is an art teacher herself, and I learned all of the different tribulations that she goes through with teaching almost hundreds of kids a year. Yet, she’s always so happy and proud to teach all of them. Mainly, I want to be able to reach out to kids like me who really didn’t have an ideal path for the future and show them the different paths that they could take.

        Lucas is walking towards the camera and smiling.

        How are you involved on campus?

        I’m a newly hired producer for Rowan Blog and I have to say it’s pretty exciting. With Covid indirectly wiping out 2-3 years of my college career, I really haven’t spent all that much time on campus. I’m a commuter so I don’t really get around to traveling so much around campus. So far, this job has had me go into buildings that I’ve never even seen and meet with people. It almost makes you feel like a first year all over again.

        Could you share a moment you’ve experienced in which you have felt that Rowan is a welcoming environment for you?

        Coming into Rowan, I already knew that I had a lot of really close friends that were also going to be attending. I wouldn’t say that there is a specific moment but I guess you could call it a collection of experiences. Whether it was my buddies and myself going to grab a pizza and goofing off in one of the buildings at Holly Pointe or just meeting different people with every new class I take, it’s a different ordeal every time which I find pretty fascinating.

        Lucas is sitting down and smiling at the camera.

        Tell us about one moment that made you feel like Rowan was the right fit for you.

        Honestly, there was this one moment where I had just bought a new car to start off my first year here at Rowan. If I remember right, it was like a 1998 Camaro and I had thought it was the coolest thing, especially since it had that retro looking t-roof. I was going to pick up my friends and grab something to eat as a first trip with the car and it didn’t start for some reason. While I was calmly freaking out I was surprised over the amount of students that actually were coming up and asking me if everything with the car was alright. It was a very humbling experience but something that made me feel really included with the entire population.

        Lucas is holding a notebook that he was writing in and looks off in the distance.

        What would you share with a future student interested in your major?

        You really have to appreciate the different classes that are offered in the major. There are so many different welcoming professors such as Professors Falck, Meadowsong and Tucker that really make you invested in what you’re learning. I think with English there’s always something new to learn or even just interpret based on what you think a source is trying to convey which makes it almost tailored to however you want to believe. All in all, I would just say to keep up with reading and not to slack off too much.

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        Story and Photography: by Ashley Craven, junior sports communication and media major

        Produced by: Lucas Taylor, senior English Education major



        Doing Hobbies in Exchange For Our Own Mental Wellness

        Serina is turned towards the camera and smiles directly.

        This article is part of a running series with Rowan University’s Wellness Center. This collaboration aims to educate students about personal well-being options. For further updates, follow @RowanUWellness on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

        As a content creator, I have experienced burnout and disinterest when I have used my hobbies for profit. When money becomes a driving force for an individual to begrudgingly continue their hobbies, it may lead to issues that affect the creator’s mental health. Due to this, the line with which a hobby is enjoyable and that of a tiring job can get rather confusing. 

        When it comes to health, we should prioritize and understand aspects of our own life that can be considered as hazardous. It’s perfectly normal to enjoy the hobbies that we choose, but we also have to acknowledge the premises of overworking. We often look over this idea, but the overworking of our hobbies could potentially put a toll on our own mental and physical health.

        Serina is staring in-between two bookcases with her hands on her hips.

        However, having a healthy relationship with our hobbies and allowing ourselves to have rationale for it can be perceived as being especially beneficial. Daniel Hövermann, a writer for Medium, discusses the dichotomy of stress and hobbies and how it could potentially alleviate some of the anxiety that we feel throughout our days. In one of his published articles, Hövermann states that “…hobbies can help to calm your mind and reduce your stress level. Besides that, they grant you valuable times with friends or things you love.”

        One of my own favorite hobbies is fixing furniture with my family. We love to thrift-shop shabby items and refurbish them with the intent of showcasing our own specific creativity. Since repainting and reconstruction are physically tiring, we do not overwork ourselves by taking on more than our bodies can handle.

        For myself, I have just recently changed my own perspective on the matter as I have returned to treating my hobby as a creative outlet and not just as a money making side hustle. Mainly, I had to reflect on my own thoughts when I had prioritized money over my own well being. I found myself begrudgingly doing work and not enjoying it for those simple enjoyable moments that it had once brought me. I had to reassess: “Is the hobby unenjoyable because it is fueled by making money?”

        Serina is smiling while looking down and reading a book.

        Due to the premise of money, many people sacrifice their own wellbeing and happiness over the pursuit of accruing more. As we all know, life can become exceptionally difficult because of money. Due to situations such as paying for education, paying for daily necessities or even personal expenses, the main idea still remains the same — life can prove to be difficult.

        Using our own creative hobbies as a financial outlet can temporarily alleviate some of these hardships that we feel, but just as Hövermann says, “Change the job instead of stressfully trying to turn your positively distracting hobbies into cash-cows. Otherwise, you will cripple both. You end up with a job you hate and with a hobby that lost all its lightness.” Sometimes, turning a hobby into a second job will only hurt our own health.

        Serina is sitting down on a colorful bench and looking off in the distance.

        We must understand why hobbies are so helpful for stress relief and when it becomes detrimental to our physical and mental health. The bottom line: hobbies should not cause stress because their sole purpose is to provide happiness.

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        Story by:
        Serina Gonzalez, Rowan Global student in M.A. in Strategic Communication program, Wellness Center intern

        Photos by:
        Ashley Craven, junior sports communication and media major

        Produced by:
        Lucas Taylor, senior English education major

        #PROFspective: Life Behind the Camera with Sports Communication and Media Major Ashley Craven

        Ashley holds a DSLR camera with a long lens inside Business Hall.

        In this edition of #PROFspective we learn of junior Sports Communication and Media major Ashley Craven. Ashley is a transfer student from Camden County College who commutes from Sicklerville, NJ (Camden County). Showing great tenacity, Ashley is a single mother rising up to achieve her degree. Recently, Ashley was hired for Rowan Blog and exhibits a passion for photography. In this dialogue, we learn of Ashley’s own journey through academia as well as an inside look at her unique Rowan experience.

        What drew you to your major? 

        Being an athlete, I wanted a job in the sports industry. I was actually going to nursing school and when I got in, I realized it wasn’t for me; so, sports came to mind.

        I recently discovered my passion for photography. I thought of connecting the two. Now, I am taking on more cinematography and production assignments for the Rowan Blog. It just feels right.

        Ashley works on a laptop with her camera at her side inside Business Hall.

        How does your field impact the world? What impact would you like to have on the world in your field?

        Combining photography and cinematography is like conveying a story in silence, which I think is pretty powerful. It allows athletes to showcase their talents and emotions. Whether they’re winning a championship or so forth, I really want to emphasize the talents of other athletes. It is a form of storytelling, so those who weren’t at these events can see bit by bit.

        On the professional side, I want to get a job with the NFL or WWE. I’d feel a big sense of accomplishment if I got to do that because I would see my photos being out there around the world. I want to be an asset to a company and provide them with quality pictures to benefit them as well. It’s cool to think that photos are one of the only ways you can actually look back at the past. 

        Ashley sits and holds her knees on a bench inside Business Hall.

        Describe for us an experience you’ve shared with a Rowan professor in which you felt like you were working with a visionary in your field. 

        I have Neil Hartman to thank, without a doubt. I even kept in close contact with him even when I was still at Camden County College. It took me a year and a half to come here, and I still keep in touch with him. He has just been so influential. Neil Hartman provides all the students networking opportunities, keeps up to date with upcoming events and job fairs. He definitely wants me to succeed because he saw how passionate I was. He even reached out to ask me to do a lacrosse tournament just because he knew I was willing to do anything to succeed in the world of photography. He is definitely great with guidance and he is going to be the one I thank at my graduation speech.

        What’s your fondest moment here at Rowan that involves your major?

        The best would have to be when Brianna McCay, who is involved in The Whit, asked me to photograph the Brian Dawkins interview. Because of her, I was able to take some awesome photos of an icon. Two of my pictures made it into the newspaper, and I realized that I wanted to keep doing it.

        I think photographing with the newspaper and seeing my photos published for the first time was one of the greatest moments. That was just an opening door to my future success. It’s still a new hobby of mine but it’s already got me here.

        Ashley is smiling with her two kids around her.

        Any words you want to give to someone interested in your major?

        Really, when you talk about the sports industry it’s all about who you know. You have to network, you have to promote yourself, you have to preserve. Every no will lead to a better yes. Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is everything, it is the preview to life’s coming attractions.” That really resonates with me. What you put out into the universe is what’s going to attract to you.

        How would you describe your academic journey so far? 

        So I absolutely love school now. I actually did not complete high school. Then, about eight years later, it kind of just came to me that I wanted to go back to school again. I wanted to better my life my kids and for myself, so I got my GED. I have worked relentlessly ever since. I wanted to get the degree, and I’ve just been so motivated.

        With my kids, it’s hard to get work done but I’ve always believed in self discipline and I think it’s huge. So I set up times where I wake up at five or six in the morning when they’re still sleeping just to get an assignment done. Or I’ll even get them to bed by 9:30 and stay up until midnight to do my work. It’s very challenging for sure.

        Because of them and how I want to better myself as an individual, it encourages me to stay on top of my assignments, get things done and get good grades. I value that, especially from someone who originally hated school.

        Ashley stands with her hand on her hip inside Business Hall.

        Is there any specific club or organization that has helped welcome you here at Rowan? 

        Pizza with the Pros, there you feel the togetherness. It’s just awesome the people that you get to meet. Everyone just wants to help — whether it’s a student, a professional in the industry or in my case, Neil Hartman. Those events are all about networking and hearing perspectives of people in the industry. The all give great advice. Those events really just make me feel welcomed and supported. 

        What has been the biggest challenge in transitioning to Rowan? 

        Learning where all of the buildings are located! I just think being new is the most challenging. Other than that, everything has been pretty easy to navigate, especially with Canvas. 

        Any final words you would like to give? 

        You’re never too old, and it’s never too late. Prioritize what’s most important to you and put self-discipline first. I’m huge on being mindful. I would also suggest writing everything down. It’s really important to write down all your thoughts and ideas just to reflect on them after. Don’t forget to date them as well!

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        Story by:
        Lucas Taylor, senior English education major

        Photography by:
        Valentina Giannattasio, first year dance and marketing double major

        The (Abridged) Beginner’s Guide to Communication Studies

        Brandon is smiling and gazing at the camera behind a forest.

        This article is part of a running series with Rowan University’s Wellness Center. This collaboration aims to educate students about personal well-being options. For further updates, follow @RowanUWellness on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook

        When I first entered college, I was unsure about what I wanted. My friends all seemed so solid in their paths to becoming mechanical engineers, accountants or even psychologists. For a long time, this made me insecure about my own choices and, more often than not, my inability to make them. However, even with all of the trouble that I had faced with indecision, I realize now that I found my place in one of the broadest majors Rowan University has to offer: Communication Studies.

        Brandon Simon is sitting on swing in the forest.

        The most elusive thing about my major is its definition. What is communication studies? According to the University of Otago in New Zealand, communication studies can be described as “a study of how we communicate differently to various audiences/users and communities. It understands that communication is social, political, and media-based, and occurs in different contexts” (University of Otago).

        This idea can be applied in countless different ways across two major tracks: Rhetoric/Cultural Criticism and Interpersonal/Organizational. This major gives students so many options when it comes to specializing in the specific fields of communication that they would like to study. While this freedom may sound like a good thing, students often can feel restricted when it comes to narrowing down their concentration and looking for a job.

        Brandon is squatting down and smiling at the camera.

        A graduate of communication studies can do anything with their degree. Some students in the Interpersonal track may find a job in human resources at a large company, while students in the Rhetoric track may go on to graduate school and conduct their own research. A minor or certificate of undergraduate study can also help guide students through this process. The number of opportunities out there can feel overwhelming, but the key is keeping an open mind and knowing how to market yourself and your acquired skills.

        References 

        What is Communication Studies. University of Otago, University of Otago, New Zealand. (n.d.). Retrieved February 3, 2022, from https://www.otago.ac.nz/mfco/about/otago040200.html

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        Story by:
        Brandon Simon, senior communication studies major, Wellness Center intern

        Photography by:
        Stephanie Batista, junior business management major

        Produced by:
        Lucas Taylor, senior English education major

        Faculty #PROFile: Insight on the Perspective of Dr. Alicia Monroe

        Dr. Monroe has a thought provoking look on her face and is looking off.

        During her time here at Rowan University as both an instructor for the Africana Studies department and assistant director at the Office of Career Advancement, Dr. Alicia Monroe can be seen as a beacon for students who are facing uncertainty in their own careers and futures. In her perspective, Dr. Monroe wants to let students know that she understands the trials and tribulations that they might be facing and wants to create a safe space for students to be able to flesh out their own ideas in a safe environment.

        In this Faculty #PROFile we learn more of Dr. Monroe’s thinking on her self-created course around Black Lives Matter as well as her own thoughts on academia for students.

        Dr. Monroe is in a conversation with another person. Using her hands to emphasize her points.

        For Dr. Monroe, education is a pivotal part of the academic journey. By being able to comprehend and understand the perspectives of others, Dr. Monroe would argue is just as important. The effervescence of this idea inevitably gave foundation to Monroe’s Black Lives Matter course here at Rowan University, where it explores different dimensions of society that is often overlooked due to it being controversial or tucked underneath the carpet. However, the current state of the Black Lives Matter course came through not only the preserving of Dr. Monroe, but also through the request of the student body. 

        Originally, the course was a part of a coordinating project used to supplement and help students in poor areas. Although many of the different aspects of the project had drastically helped enrich the education of the students involved, Dr. Monroe wanted to give these students opportunities to gain college credits that would help them further along their academic journey. 

        “[W]e really wanted these students to have opportunities to earn college credits. So, I was asked, ‘Dr. Monroe, you’re the educational guru, you’re the educational wizard, can you develop this course?.’ I already had a lot on my plate but I replied that I would consider it. I was told that I needed the course in two weeks. You don’t develop curriculum in two weeks, especially not a credit-bearing course curriculum. However, I had been doing extensive research on Black Lives Matter, such as the backdrop of Trayvon Martin and all of the unfortunate killings that had increased from there. I noticed that it was finally starting to gain traction and the media attention that it deserved.”

        Dr. Monroe is posing and smiling directly at the camera.

        In Dr. Monroe’s perspective, she had wanted this course to not only be be just subjected to the Black Lives Matter cause but for it to apply to aspects that affected a wider population. Although the course may be titled “Black Lives Matter,” Dr. Monroe reassures students that the class affects the entirety and not just a selected group. This can be seen in the various amount of students and their different backgrounds attending each of her classes as they range from white, hispanic, Black and many other minority groups.

        The course covers a wide range of different subjects that Dr. Monroe considers important to bring up through class discussion such as climate change, the recent rise of the AAPI (Stop Asian American Pacific Islander Hate) or even giving more context to cases such as Ahmaud Aubrey’s that wouldn’t be presented on television. 

        “When there were attacks on the AAPI community, we spoke about that. We don’t only focus on a specific race, we focus on the movement and what it is directed on. We had conversations on climate change. I argue that social media has skewed the overall appearance of the movement but if you look at the content it’s so much bigger. Although the core element is Black and brown lives, it’s so much bigger than that,” she explains.

        In Dr. Monroe’s eyes, she looks at the bigger picture, the ability to have conversations with others and ultimately reach an understanding. This premise of respectability and the ability to have these difficult conversations is something that is primarily not taught in classes. For her, she wants to normalize these conversations and allow her students to be able to format their own thoughts and opinions on core events throughout the country. 

        “When I had offered this idea of the course, I had told the coordinators that the course was going to be focused on the research that I have discovered as well as focus on the constructs of race, class and culture. This is what it was all about, the respect of diverse world views, the respect that everyone has a voice, the respect of what is truly fair and just,” Dr. Monroe says. “We can have that level of conversation and it can develop into a credit bearing course.”

        From her exhaustive research on the subject matter, Dr. Monroe was able to successfully undergo teaching the course in the summer semester of 2016. However, it was not green lit to continue for the upcoming fall semester. As a result, the course was shelved for multiple years until students expressed their desire to have a course that catered to their own feelings in 2019. In her recollection of the moment, Dr. Monroe states: “Dr. Chanelle Rose had approached me with the sentiment of her students. Dr. Rose had said, ‘I need a course, students are asking for a course that really reflects some of the contemporary issues that they are grappling with. They need a space to release but also be guided into the right formats of collective action.’ I replied, ‘There is a Black Lives Matter course that I developed two to three years ago.'”

        Dr. Monroe is having a conversation with another woman across a table.
        Dr. Alicia Monroe works with colleague Altonia Bryant (right) in the Office of Career Advancement

        Dr. Monroe’s harbored no hard feelings as to why her course ultimately was placed on the back burner for some time; instead, she saw it as a reflection of the status of the country and University at the time. During this lapse, Dr. Monroe kept up with her research with most current events that were applicable to the Black Lives Matter movement and bided her time; she says she knew eventually that it was going to be needed to further the conversation on injustice for those that didn’t have the ability to use their voice. 

        It’s with these students that motivated Dr. Monroe to keep upholding her teaching values and instill confidence in students and let them understand their own value and worth. Whether it’s through the classes that she is heading or even students that come to her for advice on their own future, Dr. Monroe places a great amount of emphasis for these students and how they come to mold her own futures through her guidance.

        The education process can be seen as an ever moving and fluid system. Each stage of this system makes up an intricate cog of modern day academia. For Dr. Monroe, she’s played a vital role in almost every phase of learning; she states she is a “Pre-K through 20 educator.” Her experience is invaluable information for any student facing their own academic issues. Instead of treating each unit in the process of learning, Dr. Monroe’s motivation in progressing has been fueled by gaining an entire understanding of the developmental process. 

        “I’ve spent a number of years in pre-k through 12, starting off from the classroom and moving up to every level from department supervisor, assistant principal to a middle school, a principal to a high school as well as becoming an assistant superintendent. I had moved up deliberately because I wanted to identify each role in this whole hierarchy of learning,” she says.

        Dr. Monroe is laughing and pointing her finger.

        As a result of her dedication to her work and her students, Dr. Monroe has exemplified the characteristics of a model educator. Whether it’s through her own spread of her research and rhetoric or through her own unique framework through the educational process, she’s committed herself to create an effect on her students that goes beyond teaching and guidance. 

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        Story by
        Lucas Taylor, Senior English education major

        Photography by
        Valentina Giannattasio, first year dance and marketing major

        Related posts:

        How the Africana Studies Major Changed the Course of Jamar Green’s Studies, Leadership and Future

        Beyond the Classroom: Meet Africana Studies Club President Nafisat Olapade

        Ingredients for a Great Career: The Office of Career Advancement Gives Students the Recipe for Success

        #PROFspective: Senior Communications Studies Major, Sorority President Kate Palozzola

        Kate leans against a brick wall and stares off in a different direction.

        What inspired you to choose your major? I chose to be a Communication Studies major at Rowan University considering this field of study is an intersection of various social sciences, flexible in the creative process, and because of my passion for reading and writing. I came into Rowan as a Psychology major, which I also […]