My Favorite Class: Teaching Concepts of Dance in Physical Education [VIDEO]

Mackenzie Saber dancing with a partner inside of Esby Gym

This story is a part of the “My Favorite Class” series.

Interested to see what it’s like to be part of the health & physical Education major? Check out this feature on this upper-level course “Teaching Concepts of Dance in Physical Education.”

“Teaching Concepts of Dance in Physical Education” (HPE 00316) is a course that teaches students how to integrate social dance and culture dance inside of a physical education classroom. This course occurs once a week during a 3-hour block. During the first part of the class, students learn about different dance styles and methods of instruction. During the second part of the class, students actively engage in executing the dances that they’ve learned. They review between three and four dances per class period.

As students are learning these dances, they have the opportunity to practice their teaching methods on preschool students, at the on-site Rowan University Early Childhood Demonstration Center housed within James Hall, the education building. “It’s learning how to be hands-on, which goes into depth on how to teach step-by-step so a preschooler can understand,” says junior health & physical education major Rachel Dubois of Cherry Hill, NJ (Camden County.)

This course is usually taught by Professor Merry Ellerbe-McDonald. “It is a required course for health & physical education majors because students are required to take teaching concept classes during their last two years in the program,” shares Williamstown, NJ (Gloucester County) junior Mackenzie Saber, who was a dancer for 15 years. 

Senior Nicholas Seibel, of Mount Holly, NJ (Burlington County), shares: “I don’t have a background in dance. I never danced before. I’m not a great dancer to begin with, so this course gave me a lot of confidence.”

This class allows for students to be goofy with each other, while accomplishing work and having fun. Teaching Concepts of Dance in Physical Education gives student a chance to get an active education with an encouraging professor. 

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Written by: Jordyn Dauter, junior double major in dance & elementary education

Alumni Success: Special Education Teacher Creates Special Needs Sports Organization [VIDEO]

A view of Spectrum Sports with people working out.

A glimpse into a former special education teacher’s career pivot After graduating and launching his special education career in 2011 and teaching for 10 years, alumnus Dan Minko noticed a gap in available recreation and athletic opportunities for people who are a part of the special needs community. To fill the gap and serve the […]

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 […]

#PROFspective: Student Leader Arianna Granda Talks Clubs, Music Education & Faith

Arianna Granda lays on the grass with musical scores surrounding her.

Today we feature Arianna Granda from Morris County, NJ. She is a rising senior studying Music Education with a vocal concentration and pursuing a CUGS in Jazz Performance. She currently serves as the president of both Rowan’s NAfME (National Association for Music Education) chapter and Profecy A Cappella group, as well as a leader of […]

Co-Founder of Interdisciplinary Learning Lab for Creatives and Entrepreneurs Shares Her Experience

Isabella Shainline posing in a work space.

Today, we hear from Isabella Shainline, a junior English Education major, Photography minor, and John H. Martinson Honors College student from Pitman, NJ (Gloucester County). Isabella co-founded Business Hall’s Creatives 230, which is an interdisciplinary learning lab for creatives and entrepreneurial students. “Last year, my photography professor Jenny Drumgoole and I went over to Business […]

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 









#PROFspective: A Closer Look at Music Education and Jazz with Jovan Rivera

Rowan University student Jovan Rivera posing inside of Wilson Hall with a saxophone sitting in front of a piano.

Today, we are hearing from Jovan Rivera, a junior Music Education and Jazz Performance major and transfer student from Trenton, NJ (Mercer County). Could you share a few on-campus activities, clubs, sports, or events that you’ve attended so far? What was your favorite, and why? I am a part of the Photography Club, Esports Club, […]

From High School to Showbiz and Back Again: Rowan Alum Janine Edmonds Tells All on Her Career as a Guidance Counselor

Janine poses in front of a mural.

Today we feature Janine Edmonds, a graduate of Rowan University’s class of 2001 with a degree in Radio/Television/Film and a 2006 graduate of Rowan’s M.A. In Counseling Educational Settings program. Here, Edmonds tells us about her path returning to higher education and her experience as a guidance counselor for Oakcrest High School. Did you always […]

#PROFspective: Student Athlete Kristiina Castagnola on Her Record-Breaking Season and Graduate Assistantship

Kristiina Castagnola poses in front of James Hall.

Today we feature Rowan Global graduate student and student athlete Kristiina Castagnola (she/her) from Voorhees, NJ (Camden County). Off the field, Kristiina is a commuter studying for an MA in Higher Education and works as a graduate assistant for the College of Education. On the field, she has become one of Rowan’s most decorated student […]

#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. 

See our video with Adrianna here:

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Story produced by:
Lucas Taylor, English education graduate student

Connecting with Kids: An Elementary Education and Literacy Studies Student’s Story

Rowan College of Education student Isabella stands next to the Reading Clinic room inside James Hall.

Today we feature Isabella Muchler, a junior in Rowan University’s College of Education. Isabella, a dual major in Elementary Education and Literacy Studies, hails from Franklinville, NJ (Gloucester County). She enrolled as a transfer student, having attended Rowan College of South Jersey at Gloucester. Could you share a few on-campus activities, clubs, or pre-professional activities […]

#PROFspective: An Introduction to Tammy Nguyen, Leadership and Social Innovation Major

Rowan Leadership and Social Innovation major Tammy stands in front of James Hall.

Today we feature Tammy Nguyen, a junior in Rowan University’s College of Education. Tammy, of Camden County, NJ, majors in Leadership and Social Innovation and is also pursuing a Certificate of Undergraduate Study (CUGS) in Access, Success, & Equity for Educational Innovation. Please share an “aha!” moment you’ve had within your major that made you […]

Paving Her Own Path: Breanna Kiger’s Experience as a First-Generation Student

Exterior shot of James Hall.

Today, we introduce you to first-year student Breanna Kiger, who hails from Cape May County, NJ and majors in Elementary Education. Breanna is not only the first of her family to attend college, she is a first-generation high school graduate as well. She shares her first impressions of the campus community in her first year […]

Faculty PROFile: Dr. Adrian Barnes on Music Education through a Social Justice Lens

Music Education Assistant Professor Dr. Adrian Barnes sits outside Wilson Hall.

Today we feature Assistant Professor Dr. Adrian Barnes, coordinator of Rowan University’s Bachelor of Music Education and a key architect behind the school’s new Master of Music Education program, which launched this fall. Here, Dr. Barnes details his research and teaching, shares more information on the new graduate program and explains why he believes education […]

Rowan Alumnus and Band Director Mike Massaro on Music Education

Music education alumnus Mike Massaro plays the trumpet wearing a red polo shirt.

Today we feature a Q and A with 2020 Rowan Music Education graduate Mike Massaro, the middle school band director at Kingsway Regional Middle School and coach for the Rowan Youth Jazz Orchestra. Music is a passion of Mike’s, and it all started for him at an early age. He talks about the journey he has been on with the art, his teaching position and the importance of learning music.

Where did your passion for music stem from?

I can think back through my life of how I got progressively more involved with music, but it all started back when I was a little kid. When my grandmother would be driving me in her car, I’d be in the backseat. And she put in this cassette tape. The first track on it was “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong, and I would sing along in the back and I’d hum along.

I always knew that I liked music a lot. As I got older, eventually I joined band when I was in elementary school, got in the jazz band when I was in middle school.

But it was really when I got into the high school jazz band and my high school band director believed in me a lot, that I knew that this was something that I wanted to spend a life in.

What was the exact moment that you were like, this is what I want to do for my life?

The moment that I realized I wanted to go into music was actually the moment that music had gotten taken away from me. When I was a sophomore in high school, I always used to come right home from school, and I’d go up to my room and I’d practice trumpet right away.

One time that winter break, I was hanging out with a bunch of my friends and we were just being silly sophomores in high school, throwing stuff around the basement. I got hit in the face by a toy and my lip busted, which is not good for trumpet players. I couldn’t play trumpet for about a month or two. So, I would come home and in that time where I previously used to practice, I would just go up and sit, and just keep an icepack on my face, and not do anything. And it was boring. It wasn’t fun, it was depressing.

I realized, if this is what my life is without music, why would I go into anything but music?

Mike is sitting down and looking off to the left.
Mike Massaro (above) wrote a piece for Rowan Blog while a student; read that here.

Why did you choose Rowan for music?

There were a lot of factors that went into me choosing Rowan for music, but ultimately what it came down to was the professors that I knew I would be studying under, and the individual attention that I knew I’d be receiving.

I can tell, looking at Rowan, that every single professor truly cares about every single student that is involved in their program. Through my time learning with all these professors, I was able to get to know them all so personally, and so closely. Looking at myself now as a teacher, I’m able to look at anything I do and pick apart almost sort of where I got that from, which professor kind of instilled that in me and how it’s grown ever since that.

You knew that you wanted to continue with music, but when did you decide that you wanted to teach it?

So for me, I realized I wanted to go into music in a very finite moment. However, realizing that I wanted to teach music was more of a progressive thing.

It was probably around my junior year in high school, I had gotten a lot more opportunities to teach other students. I was running sectionals, I was just getting to work with a lot of younger students, and I started to really like that feeling of knowing that somebody was getting better at music because of something that I was able to share with them.

I started to fall in love with that feeling so much. I realized it was really what was keeping me going. It was my big spark in life and I knew that I wanted to live with that for the rest of my life.

Mike is sitting in a tree playing the saxophone.

Can you talk a little bit more about the relationships that you have with the students and the inspiration that their growth brings?

Sure. I believe in all of my students, I believe any one of them can truly achieve what they want to, especially in music. I can look at all of them and see so much of my past self and see so much of my past friends from when I was in their shoes. But I can also see so much new in all of them. There’s so many new ideas that they all bring to the table, so many new things that they want to try, and new things that they’re able to accomplish.

Every student is at a different level. I don’t expect all of my students to achieve the same things. We all start at different levels and we all end at different levels. But ultimately, what my relationship with my students is based off of is progress, and seeing that we’re all able to grow together at the same time.

Music education seems to be one of the first programs that always gets cut. Why do you believe music education is vital to help students build on their skill set?

To anybody that’s asking why music should be in schools, why is music education important? I ask the question, what would your life be without music? it’s something that surrounds us everywhere that we go. We’re in the car, we’re in the store, we go to concerts, we can hear these birds around me right now. Any sound can be considered music.

I think establishing a relationship with that art is one of the most important things that any young student can experience, because it truly exposes them to the world that is around them in a more personal and connected way than, in my opinion, any other field that is out there.

Mike is sitting and looking off to the right with a slight smile.

Can you kind of talk about how music can additionally teach kids math and language?

I definitely believe that music is a universal language. It encompasses so many of the other fundamental skills that we see. Math, rhythms are all math. Everyday pitches are all math, and in that same realm of math, it’s all science. Everything that we do is based around physics, It’s all based around acoustics.

In terms of language arts, English, literature and any other language you could possibly dream of, everything that we do is storytelling. It’s all based and structured around the same types of forms that we see in literature and stories. And, I mean if we’re talking history music has such a diverse and extensive and beautiful history throughout all of mankind. It truly does bring every single subject into play all at once, and you can take moments to isolate down and work with those specific subjects.

A side profile picture of Mike sitting and talking.

Whenever it comes to like the band, the orchestra, the jazz band, everybody has to be on the same page or the music fails. How is each individual person important, no matter if they’re the first chair with a big solo, or they’re the last chair?

Ultimately, our job as musicians in an ensemble has to pay respect to the original work that was written, that was composed. That composer wrote that work for a very specific purpose, for a very specific reason. Every single member of our team matters when it comes to making sure that reason can come to life. Whether it’s some situation where there’s one student on a part, like there is in a jazz ensemble, or there’s many students on a part, like there is in a wind ensemble. Every student matters, because again, we’re trying to pay respect to these words.

Ultimately, the melody doesn’t mean anything without the harmony. The harmony doesn’t mean anything without the melody. The drumbeat doesn’t mean anything without the melody and the harmony. It takes every single student to really create the story that we are trying to tell in there. And if you look at an activity like marching band, there’s nowhere to hide on the field. Every single student has a role. There is no bench, all of our students are on 100% of the time.

As a music education teacher, how do you keep everybody engaged evenly?

When it comes to keeping all of the students in the room engaged all the time, I’m constantly asking myself what their skill set is in three different perspectives. I’m looking at the individual skill sets, the skill sets of their sections. Like the trumpets, the alto sax is the percussion section, and then the skill set of the full ensemble.

I think the hardest part about being a band director is finding the balance between managing those three skill sets increasing all at once. ‘m constantly asking myself, is this challenge enough for this student? Is it too much? I want to push the bar for everybody individually, just how I can at the right pace.

The same goes for their sections, they grow together through their sections and ultimately ensemble goes together. So, I’m constantly listening and assessing their growth on those three levels. 

Mike is smiling and holding his saxophone.

What do you feel is the importance of having somebody to guide the students? What was the importance for you to have professors that show you the way and sparks your love for music?

I tell my students all the time, the most important thing that I could ever teach them is how to teach themselves. I always want to be there to give them the material that they need when they are ready for it. And when they are ready to take those next steps, I will push them to do it. But ultimately, I’m not the one playing the instruments. That’s them. I’m not the one sitting in the group playing that is that is them.

I want to constantly be giving them the skills that they need to take any inspiration in any musical knowledge that they can, and use it to make themselves be the best version of themselves that they can.

You touched on this earlier, but could you dive deeper on the overall experience that you’ve got with your professors and how they’ve shaped you as a musician?

One of the most important interactions that I had with a professor when I was at Rowan, was with one of my professors who was actually a middle school band director at a local middle school. This was the day that I realized I wanted to teach middle school.

I went out there on one of my practicums, which was through the ED major, and I saw what he was doing with his students and the level that they were performing. I was completely unaware that middle schoolers can perform at that level. That was the moment where I said, I want to be able to do this.

I was able to talk with this professor for a while afterwards and he talked to me about being a musician, being a teacher, and how important it is to teach to my own musicianship. Everything that I learned in my ensembles, at Rowan, whether it was in jazz band with Denis [DiBlasio], wind ensemble with Dr. Higgins, or my trumpet lessons with with Brian [Appleby-Wineberg], no matter what it was that I learned, these were all things that built my musicianship up.

Ultimately, as a teacher, I’m constantly teaching to what I know. As a musician, I’m constantly pulling from those experiences. So, how did my experiences at Rowan shape myself as a teacher? They built my musicianship. They made me who I was, as a musician. They exposed me to so many different situations and types of music and opportunities, that I was able to take all these things, and now share them with my students who can now evolve on them themselves, teaching to my musicianship.

Another shot of Mike playing the saxophone in the same location.

What is the importance of being able to teach music for grades K-12?

Like I said earlier, music is universal. I think in music, having experience teaching every single grade level can only be beneficial for you. One of the time periods of my most intense growth was during my student teaching, when I was actually teaching kindergarten. I taught K through five general music and it was so much fun. I learned so much more about the teaching process in that time period, through working with kindergarteners, first graders, and second graders. Seeing how they received information and seeing how important structure was.

Music is cool in the fact that from the time we’re young, when we first experience it, and we’re in our music classes in kindergarten, second grade, and all that stuff, we’re working on what is essentially the same set of fundamentals from then all the way up to the professional level. The only thing that changes is the amount of it that we’re able to receive. And of course, yes, concepts become more and more advanced as you get older, but I perceive that as the amount of information that we’re able to receive. Being able to teach at the younger levels and at the older levels is incredibly beneficial, because seeing how people learn and how they receive this information really helps establish what comes next.

Mike is smiling while holding his saxophone

What is your role in youth jazz? How did you get involved?

I am the coach for the Rowan Youth Jazz Orchestra. This is a brand new program that is being offered through the Rowan Community Music School, to middle school and high school aged students. I got involved through this shortly after I graduated, I got a call from my former student teaching supervisor who had become the head of the Rowan Community Music School, the director of the school. She called me asking if I would want to hop on board with this new group. I said, Absolutely. We did a semester through Zoom and then we just finished our first full year of in person ensemble rehearsals and performances this year. It’s so fun being able to work alongside Skip Spratt, who is just an absolute amazing educator and musician overall, learning so much from it. I’m glad that I’m able to learn and teach these things at the same time.

How do you find a balance between your teaching and your musicianship?

Finding the balance between the teacher side of things, and the musician side of things can be very difficult at times. But again, I always do everything I can to not compromise the music and exchange for the things that come on the teacher side of things such as, the procedures, the logistics, the discipline.

I make sure that my students know my expectations as early and as upfront as possible, so that we can get right into the music as quickly and as efficiently as we possibly can. The more that side of things is running, the easier it can be for all of us to just experience what we want to get out of the music that is in front of us.

Mike is sitting and looking off right.

We know that middle schoolers obviously have a shorter attention span. How do you kind of deal with the different environment of middle school compared to college, where you are just coming from?

In college, the music that we’re performing and practicing and playing is consistently at the highest level that is available. In middle school, for most of the students, that is their first time really getting to experience music in this capacity. I often have to take a step back a lot of times and remind myself that it is the first time for the students going through this and that they can’t be expected to know all of these high-level concepts, or even sometimes, just know what to do in any given situation.

That is my job as an educator, to teach them what to do in these situations. So for me, I have to go back to square one and ask myself if I was in their chair, what would the next thing I would need to accomplish be? And then from there, I step into teacher mode and say, how can I help these students accomplish this next step?

Being there for their sort of first interaction with music, have you had that opportunity where you see a spark for the love of music in a student’s eyes? If you have what does that feel like?

Yeah. So for most schools, our pay days on the 15th, and the 30th. That’s cool and all, but for me, the real pay day is when students have those moments of those big realizations. Those, oh that’s it type of moments when they really get something and it’s clear that it locks in, and they actually understand it. That is my pay day. That is when I really understand and that’s when I really feel the reward of what I’m working for. When the students get to experience and when they take that next step, and when they really love what they’re doing. 

Mike is leaning on a tree while smiling and holding his saxophone to his chest.

How do you describe Rowan for someone to come here to further their music education?

The beautiful thing about majoring in Music Education at Rowan is that you’re going to be constantly surrounded by professors who care about you. Like I was talking about earlier, every single professor that I had believed in me and was patient with me through my learning process, and gave me the tools that I needed to figure it out and to succeed on my own. I had such a different college experience than a lot of my friends. We were all looking for different things. But whatever it was that we were looking for, our professors were able to help us achieve that and find that and live that.

So for any student that is looking into Rowan, no matter what it is that you want to accomplish with your time in college, these professors in this department is there for you to make sure that can happen.

Watch our video feature of Mike here:

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Story by:
Jada Johnson, political science major

Photography by:
Brian Seay, senior sports communication and media, radio/TV/film major

Meet Transfer Profs: College of Education Student Emilie Pretto

A photo of Rowan University's education building, James Hall.

Today we feature incoming transfer student Emilie Pretto (she/her) from Ocean County. Emilie tells us about her major, why she’s excited to start classes at Rowan, and gives advice to future transfer students. Welcome to Rowan! Could you share with us one thing you are looking forward to at Rowan University? I’m looking forward to […]

Meet #Rowan2026: Incoming Profs from the Colleges of Humanities and Social Sciences, Education

Image of prof statue near Robinson and James Halls.

Today we welcome incoming first year students from the College of Education and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Rowan University. Haley Hill (she/they) is from Williamstown, NJ (Gloucester County) and will be living on campus as an Education and History major. Gianna Burgio (she/her) is also from Williamstown, NJ and will be […]

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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Putting Experience into Practice: Clinical Intern to Educator, Mariah Hodge

Mariah holds an apple while standing outside on campus.

Since childhood, Mariah had her sights set on becoming a teacher. Through Rowan University, she was able to graduate with a dual major in Elementary Education and Literacy Studies. Her completion of Literacy Studies has also granted her certification as a Teacher of Reading in New Jersey. Mariah’s final task to achieve her undergraduate degree […]

Why Liliana Ferrara Chose Rowan for her Master’s Degree in Higher Education Administration

Liliana wears her graduation cap and gown.

Liliana Ferrara, a Rowan Global student in the MA in Higher Education: Administration program from Parsippany, NJ (Morris County), shares why she chose Rowan to pursue her graduate degree. 

Liliana is no stranger to Rowan University’s campus. As a proud Rowan alumna, Liliana graduated with a degree in Psychology and two minors in Sociology and Italian Studies. In fact, Liliana was the first person in Rowan’s history to graduate with an Italian Studies minor. During her undergraduate degree, Liliana also served as a resident assistant in Mimosa Hall and Nexus Apartments. 

Liliana grad photo
Liliana graduated from Rowan University with a degree in Psychology.

Knowing that she wanted to continue working in residential life, Liliana looked for programs that not only had a higher education program, but a graduate assistantship that would meet her needs.

“I interviewed at a few other schools through the MAPC conference and even got offered a few other positions. Rowan’s package and program was one I could not pass up,” Liliana says. “I loved Rowan so much during my undergraduate experience so it made the decision to come back so easy.” 

Now that she’s back on campus, Liliana talks about her adjustment into graduate level courses.

“My first semester was a nice introduction into the MA in Higher Education: Administration program. My professors really helped with the adjustment and made me feel comfortable,” Liliana says. “Now that I am in the second semester, it is definitely starting to feel more real. We are starting to talk about our research projects for next year and preparing for that.” 

Liliana and staff

So far, Liliana has enjoyed her time in the program and has connected with her professors. “Dr. Dale, who I had for Higher Education in America last semester, was really great. She gave me so much encouragement and support throughout the semester. I really valued that she was able to share so much of her experience in residential life because that is what I am passionate about. I was really able to connect with her on that level and hope to take her classes again next semester.”

Along with her coursework, Liliana has her hands full being a resident director of Rowan Boulevard Apartments.

“Although it is challenging to manage being a student and an RD, I have had such an amazing experience so far. I love getting to work with the RA’s on my staff and across campus. I wanted this job to help students and develop a close connection with them past the supervisory role. As an RD, I get to do just that,” she explains.

Liliana and staff pointing at her
Liliana (center) poses with members of the resident assistant staff.

Liliana can’t imagine being an RD anywhere else, either. “Being an RD at Rowan specifically gives you such a holistic experience in higher education. This assistantship stuck out to me because we get to do so much as graduate students. Whether it is working with the housing assignments team, supervising a staff, or serving in a duty rotation, this assistantship is so hands on. We really get to put the theory we learn in class into practice,” she says.

When asked to give advice to students who want to pursue a career in higher education, Liliana replies: “You really have to think about the work-life balance you want to achieve. In a field like residential life, it is so easy to get burnt out because there is a stigma that you have to work after hours to be great. I think it is really important to set boundaries so you can be successful in your work life and your personal life.” 

After graduation, Liliana wants to continue to work in residential life and maintain the work-life balance that is so important to her. 

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Story by:
Loredonna Fiore, senior public relations and advertising major

Photos courtesy of:
Liliana Ferrara and Residential Learning and University Housing Department 

Related posts:

Higher Education Master’s Program Sounds Like Sweet Success For Rowan Music Alum Ben Wilner

Rowan Global Student Brittany Passano: Paving the Way for Latina Women in Higher Education

Rowan Global Student, SJICR Grad Coordinator Alondra Martinez on Bringing More Students of Color into Higher Education Spaces

#PROFspective: A Support for Students, Paige Bathurst

Paige sits on Bunce Hall steps.

Today we feature Paige Bathurst, who has a passion for leadership and helping people. Paige is a double major in both Supply Chain and Logistics from the Rohrer College of Business and Leadership and Social Innovation in the College of Education with a minor in Management Information Systems. She is a sophomore from Mantua, NJ […]

Prof Pairs, Love is in the Air: The Story of Scott and Kevin

Scott and Kevin pose together on Rowan's campus.

Kevin: “The Rowan Music Department is pretty small and close-knit, so we always knew of each other. I always thought of Scott as… a little intimidating. He was the choral librarian, the choir section leader, the upperclassman. He was a HUGE part of the music department! I was accepted into Rowan as a saxophone player, […]

Removing Deficit from Disability: Rowan Minds Reframe College Success for Autistic Students in New Book

John Woodruff and Dr. Amy Accardo seated together with a copy of their book.

The steady increase of autistic students entering higher education coincides with schools creating programs and services to meet this growing need. But are these supports working? Autism researchers at Rowan University set out to learn more, and they’ve published their findings in a new book. Read more about their research, recommendations for college success and […]

Volunteering with the Glassboro Food Bank

Just a stone’s throw away from Rowan University sits the Samaritan Center, a shining pillar of light in the community. Rowan Blog contributor Bianca Gray shares: “As a Rowan student, many of us are volunteering in many different places around the state, but maybe we should take the time to learn more about how we can volunteer our time to the community we all call home.”

The Samaritan Center, also known as the Glassboro Food Bank, is a nonprofit organization located on 123A East High Street. For years, they have been dedicated to providing food and clothes for the low income residents of Glassboro, and Rowan students are starting to get involved in a major way. The Samaritan Center is happy to accept help and donations from any Rowan student looking to make a difference; here are some ways that you can get involved. 

Inside the Glassboro Food Bank, shelves stocked with cans and bags stuffed with food
A look inside the Samaritan Center

Volunteering is a must for any Rowan student. It’s a great way to get involved around the community and help a good cause at the same time. Students looking to volunteer with the organization could be given a couple of different tasks. They could help with distributing and packaging food, organizing food and clothing within the center, or help to maintain the center’s garden. Senior Writing Arts and Marketing major Melanie Kosick volunteered with the organization during the fall Thanksgiving Turkey Drive. 

“We mainly just packaged bags with cranberry sauce, stuffing mix and other Thanksgiving foods for families, handing out a turkey and a gallon of milk with each bag,” Melanie tells us. “Honestly, I really enjoyed the entire experience. Not only did I enjoy working with the staff, but it was a nice way to give back for the holidays.” 

Ingres Simpson stocking the shelves of the Glassboro Food bank
Ingres restocking the shelves!

Melanie’s not the only Prof lending a helping hand though. The organization’s president, Ingres Simpson, is an adjunct professor at Rowan in the Elementary Education program. Simpson first joined the organization back into 2014 after retiring from her previous job as a Supervisor of Instruction at a local public school. She works alongside other retirees to help achieve the Samaritan Center’s primary goal: providing food and clothing to Glassboro residents in need. 

“I am totally committed to our work at the Samaritan Center,” Simpson shares. “It is especially rewarding to be able to help people within my community who struggle to feed themselves and their families.” 

Along with helping those in need feed their families, the Samaritan Center also provides clothing through their Clothing Closet. The clothing is priced anywhere from 25 cents to $3.00. As stated earlier, volunteers could be asked to help organize the clothing, but for those who don’t have the time to spare and would still like to give back, the organization is always accepting clothing donations. 

The Samaritan Center's Clothing Closet
The Clothing Closet

The Samaritan Center is open from Monday – Thursday from 12 p.m. – 3 p.m. On Mondays and Wednesdays, volunteers may help with distributing government-issued food to families and individuals who meet the federal guidelines for low income status. From 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, the Center provides gently used clothing for men, women, and children, which is especially necessary this time of year.

Anyone interested in working with the Samaritan Center should visit the Center’s website where they can not only express their interest in volunteering with the organization but donate anything they have to offer. 

A picture of the Samaritan Center
The Samaritan Center is located at 123A East High Street in Glassboro.

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Story By:
Bianca Gray, senior English major

Photos By:
Stephanie Batista, junior music industry major

Alumni Success: Dr. Janelle Alexander, Director of Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, and Belonging at Washington Township Public Schools

Today we feature Dr. Janelle Alexander, a Rowan alumna who earned a bachelor of arts in Special Education in 2001 and a doctor of philosophy in Education and Disability Studies in 2020. Dr. Alexander was selected as the Washington Township Public School Distict’s first-ever Director of Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, and Belonging this 2021-2022 academic year. 

Why did you choose Rowan to study Special Education? In other words, Why did Rowan stand out to you in your college search?

I initially did not want to attend Rowan to pursue my academic career because my mom went to school there when it was Glassboro State. I felt that I have always been reflective in the mindset that “if Harvard was in my backyard, would I not go?”

When looking at the major I wanted to study and understanding that Rowan was known for education, I quickly realized that not going to Rowan simply because of how close it was to home and because my mom attended the University was foolish.

At the end of the day, I knew Rowan produced quality educators and I saw the impact that Rowan’s education had on others, particularly like my mother who has been an amazing educator who taught in the Camden City School District for many years. I decided Rowan was a good fit for me to pursue my academic goals and to prepare me for my future endeavors in the education field. 

Why did you decide to go back to Rowan to obtain your Ph.D.? 

I always aspired to earn a terminal degree. I had a conversation with Dr. Monika Williams Shealey, who was extremely helpful in guiding me and sharing the positives and negatives of the different paths I could take in furthering my education at Rowan. I learned that obtaining a Ph.D. provided more opportunities in my eyes to being a practitioner from a research perspective.

To obtain and earn a Ph.D. that focused on access, success and equity was appealing to me. Within the Ph.D. program at Rowan, there was something called HOLMES Scholars, and within this component of the Ph.D. program you are connected with doctoral students of color nationally. In particular, there is a small percentage of females of color who have their Ph.D.’s. This created another network in which these scholars can be supported from and attracted me to this program. I wanted to be impactful in this area and grow my skill sets to be able to make a change, and Rowan gave me the resources, support and mentorships to do so. 

Janelle in her doctoral regalia.
Janelle in her doctoral regalia.

When did you know you wanted to study disability studies for your Ph.D.?

My undergraduate degree was in special education. I found that there was not a place that critiqued education. Educators and administration do not always get it right. Disability studies allowed me to question how we socially construct ability. I like to educate those into understanding how everyone learns differently, engage in the world differently, and therefore can learn from each other’s differences. I believe ability is socially constructed and that we have created and put barriers in place. This study allowed me to not only critique but have a voice.

How did you find out about the position for the first-ever Director of DEIB for Washington Township Schools?

The position was posted by … it honestly was not a position that was on my radar. I was recommended by two colleagues of mine that work in the school district and that were familiar with my work. 

Janelle in her doctoral regalia with Ph.D superman shirt.

What does this position entail for you? What does a typical day look like for you?

Because I am the inaugural director, I am currently on a listening and learning tour where I engage with administrators, community members and families, and over the next few weeks I will be shadowing students in the classroom. There are 13 schools in the school district in which I work and will be spending a day with one or two students in each respective school. During this time I will be going to lunch with them, going to the bus stop, sitting in on their classes and learning through experiencing school life with the kids. I believe there is no better way to learn on how to do things better in a school than to actually sit down with the kids, observe and start conversations with them. 

From this experience I will gather all my data, along with some general demographic data, propose a strategy plan, and then use all the work that is happening now to propel goals and objectives to the district to move closer to the goals of being more diverse, inclusive, equitable, and a place where everyone feels they belong. 

What is your overall goal as working in this position? What do you hope to gain from this experience?

Overall my goal is to set the ripple. I want to set the ripple of a space where students, staff, administrators and all people in education feel seen, valued, and heard. I say “set the ripple” because a ripple starts a wave and a wave leads to a tsunami. As the first director of Diversity, Inclusion, Equity and Belonging, I want to make a difference and influence others to make a difference as well. 

Janelle Alexander.

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Story by:
Natalie DePersia, junior public relations major

Photos courtesy of:
Janelle Alexander

Related posts:

Alumni Success: Stephanie Ibe and How She Became a Teaching Assistant in France

Alumni Success: Catherine Chambers ‘16, Where My Music Education Degree Has Taken Me

Rowan Global Student Makes History as First to Earn Diversity and Inclusion Certificate of Graduate Study

Studying Abroad in Japan: The Best Decision I Have Ever Made

Dominique attending an event in Japan.

Meet Dominique DiGiacomo, a Rowan Global student pursuing her master’s in education. She graduated from Rowan with her bachelor’s in English last spring. Dominique had the amazing opportunity to study abroad in Japan during her fall semester of junior year.

I lived in the city of Machida, a suburban area located just 45 minutes outside of center city Tokyo. My typical days abroad consisted of a delicious breakfast (either homemade or from a convenience store), classes anywhere from 9am-5pm (three completely taught in Japanese and two in English), a workout at the on-campus gym, study sessions with my friends, and a night out in the city with my friends! My time abroad helped me to realize that I was indeed in the right major.

Dominique and two friends overseas in Japan.

As an international student at JF Oberlin University I had the opportunity to apply for a job at their Brown Bag Cafe, an area in which Japanese students could go in order to learn and practice English. It was there that I confirmed my love for teaching English as a second language, loving every moment as I had the opportunity to talk to my Japanese classmates and help them break down the language barrier. This opportunity confirmed for me that I was on the right path and that my future dream of teaching English in Japan could become a reality. 

Rowan has set me up for my professional goal of teaching English abroad by giving me the experience of student teaching and education classes that have helped me to study to become a better teacher. My experience abroad has helped me to work toward my goal of teaching abroad, especially since I received the opportunity while I was there to teach English to non-native speakers. I am hoping that my combination of skills I have learned from Rowan as well as abroad will help me in my endeavors to get a job teaching English abroad in Japan. 

Dominique and her friends in front of a futuristic statue in Japan.

My time in Japan is one that I will cherish in my memories for years to come. Studying abroad in Japan was such an amazing experience and despite my slight nerves of living all on my own in a country half way across the world, I absolutely loved every moment I was there and am already counting down the days until I can hopefully return. The transition I had from going to college in Japan instead of America was honestly seamless, the only difficulty being adjusting to the time difference which was something my body eventually just got used to.

Besides my three years of study beforehand of the Japanese language and my experience traveling there once before, I still had some nerves when it came to studying abroad on my own so the on-site staff were super helpful during my transition. There was staff at the airport to pick us up and bring us to our housing, staff constantly on duty throughout the building to help us with anything we needed, and staff throughout campus helping to direct us when we were lost or confused.

Studying abroad in Japan was one of the best decisions I have ever made, and it opened up so many doors for me both academically and professionally. I encourage anyone who is interested in studying abroad to take the leap and go for it! It will be an amazing experience that you will never forget! 

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Photos courtesy of:
Dominique DiGiacomo

Transfer to Transformed: Five Students Share

Exterior shot of a walkway near Wilson Hall.

Rowan Blog celebrates National Transfer Student Week and partners with the Office of Student Success Programs in spotlighting five students who have found their new college home at Rowan University. Victoria (Tore) Butler, Elementary Education and Literacy Studies major who transferred from The University of Scranton in fall 2019 Why did you select to transfer […]

Rowan Global Student, SJICR Grad Coordinator Alondra Martinez on Bringing More Students of Color into Higher Education Spaces

Alondra stands in front of Bunce Hall.

Alondra Martinez’s coursework and on-campus position both align with her passion to see more students like her, from underrepresented backgrounds, “achieve anything they want.” Alondra, a Rowan Global student in the M.A. in Higher Education program, works as a graduate coordinator with the Social Justice, Inclusion, and Conflict Resolution (SJICR) office. Alondra is a first […]

Faculty PROFile: College of Education Adjunct Professor Sherry Knight

Sherry Knight is an adjunct professor for the College of Education in the Interdisciplinary and Inclusive Education department. She received her bachelor’s degree at Mississippi State University and her M.A. at Cheyney University. 

Share an “aha!” moment that you’ve had within your discipline that made you feel passionate about your field. 

My “aha” moment that makes me feel passionate is when students state that my storytelling about real educational experience is eye opening and sheds light on what their future may look like.

Sherry Knight outside James Hall entrance

Share with us one aspect of student engagement that you enjoy most, and why?

Listening to their apprehensions. I enjoy sharing with them how to overcome them and how important the job of a teacher is. I reiterate the impact they make in the life of their students and I encourage them to build relationships with the students.

What is your area of expertise?

My area of expertise is Early Childhood/Elementary Instructional practices.

Sherry sitting inside James Hall.

What is one thing you wish people knew about your academic discipline or your research focus?

The one thing I wish people knew is that I have a passion for perpetuating high-level practitioners to foster engaging learning experiences. When I start my doctoral program at Rowan University, my research towards my dissertation will be on active engagement and relationships.

When are you starting your doctoral program at Rowan? 

I am planning to start my doctorate in the fall 2021.

 Why did you choose to complete your doctorate at Rowan?

I chose Rowan because of the stellar doctoral programs in Educational Leadership that will enhance my skills and pedagogy. This program will also give me the opportunity to be a better professor for our future teachers providing them with research and data to drive instructional practices. 

Sherry Knight inside James Hall.

What made you become interested in pursuing a career in education, both primary and higher?

I pursued a career in education because I wanted to make a difference in the world. I believe that teachers are the catalyst to all professions and I wanted to be one who educated the future lawyers, doctors, and/or other educators.

Do you have a favorite lesson or topic you teach your students? If so, why is it your favorite?

My favorite lesson to teach is a lesson on how to build an amazing lesson plan using a menu. It’s m​y favorite because it teacher the students the key elements to develop a solid lesson plan with components of an effective lesson.  

 Is there anything else you’d like to add?

It is a pleasure to teach higher ed to future teachers. I prepare them for the next level of getting a job and being a master teacher. 

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Story by:
Caitlyn Dickinson, public relations and advertising graduate

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Faculty PROFile: Experiential Engineering Education Department’s Dr. Kaitlin Mallouk

Welcoming Incoming LGBTQIA+ Students to the Rowan Community

Students carry a Pride flag outside Bunce Hall.

Though we approach the end of Pride Month, we will soon usher in a new class of Rowan Profs. Here, faculty and staff offer their tips for incoming LGBTQIA+ first-year and transfer students. 

Headshot of Brent Elder.

I think Rowan’s proximity to Philadelphia and the queer community is a wonderful asset to new students. In addition to the support and services Rowan has to offer, there are exciting events that happen annually in Philadelphia like Philly Pride in September and OutFest held in October. Also, I’ve personally attended the socials/lunches provided by the LGBTQIA+ Center and have found that to be a fun way to connect with the queer community on campus. 

Brent Elder, Ph.D. 
Interdisciplinary and Inclusive Education Department, College of Education


Headshot of Drew Tinnin.

For new students, I would just encourage them to get involved and explore their new community! We have many LGBTQIA+ student organizations and resources, and they should not hesitate to check them out no matter how they identify.

Drew Tinnin, Ed.D.
Associate Vice President for Student Life
Division of Student Life

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Queer Voices: Rowan Global Student Denzell Moore

This interview was originally featured on the Queer Voices Instagram page @queer_voices. 

Biomedical Art and Visualization major Emerson Harman created the Queer Voices Project, which is working “to amplify LGBTQ+ student, faculty, and alumni voices at Rowan University through portraits and interviews.” You can also find more of their content here.

Denzell smiling and posing for a photo outside the engineering trail.

Name, pronouns, and identity?

Denzell Moore, he/him, bisexual 

What is your year in school and your major?

Graduate student in Higher Education Administration

When did you come out and why then?

I feel like I’ve never formerly came out because I was outed. Since then I choose when and who I come out to on my terms. Now that I am more comfortable with myself, I see sharing my identity with people as a privilege for them to further understand me. 

Has being LGBTQ impacted or influenced your education in any way? If so, how?

In regards to my education being bisexual has made notice a lot of the extra steps LGBTQ+ folks have to take to feel and respected in their learning environment. In class discussions around sexuality, I often contemplate whether or not to out myself and how that will change how my peers and professors will see me.

Has LGBTQ culture/acceptance at Rowan changed throughout your time here?

Initially when I arrived at Rowan I wasn’t sure about Rowan’s LGBTQ acceptance. It wasn’t until homophobic/transphobic protestors made their way onto campus (spring of 2019) that I was able to see how accepting Rowan was regarding LGBTQ+ people. While this was taking place many faculty, students and staff of all backgrounds displayed their rejection of these protestors’ ideals by verbally counter protesting and posing with the Pride flag in support. It wasn’t until then I was able to accurately see how accepting and supportive Rowan’s campus can be.   

Selfie of Denzell in Campbell Library.

 
What is something you would like to see changed at Rowan with regard to LGBTQ life?

While I was pursuing my undergraduate degree at Rowan, I served as Public Relations Chair for Prism (a LGBTQ+ advocacy group at Rowan). During this time I heard the grievances of a few trans students regarding making sure they were not addressed by their dead name by professors (even after telling their professors their preferred name). I would like to see a change in Rowan in which trans students do not have to endure this uncomfortable situation.

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Senior Reflects: 4+1 Student Mia Fondacaro

Mia stands in front of Bunce Hall.

Mia Fondacaro recently graduated with a degree in Biological Sciences through the Combined Advanced Degree 4+1 program (CADP) along with minors in Sustainable Studies and Psychology. She is now working toward her master’s degree in STEM education. She reflects on her time at Rowan and offers some advice to incoming students.

Could you please share your favorite moment with a faculty member or a favorite experience in one of your classes?

Not sure if this counts but I had this one professor who was super connected with her students. If you missed a class but did not inform you, she would check in on you to make sure you’re ok. She was/is a great professor, and her class was always really fun.

Mia smiles on the steps of Bunce Hall.

Could you please share your favorite social memory?

My favorite moment as a student has to be my junior year Homecoming. This is where I really went out of my comfort zone and met a lot of new people.

What are your career aspirations?

Finish my +1 year, work in a high-need school, get my doctorate, work in higher ed.

Mia stands in front of a white spring flowering shrub on campus.

How did the people or programs at Rowan help to support you with your professional growth or career aspirations?

My program is unique. For your three years as an undergrad you are only taking classes for your subject matter (for me it is biology) then in your fourth and +1 year you are taking graduate courses for education. With this set up I feel like it makes getting certified being a teacher easy because I do not have to double major in my subject matter and then education, here it is a program that is already set up.

Also with this accelerated program, yes I graduate a year later than my peers, but I graduate with a MA, which will have me entering the job market with higher income. To employers I think I will look like a valuable employee based on this program and my education from Rowan.

Who is your favorite professor? What class did you take them for? And why is this person your favorite?

Dr. Courtney Richmond, Intro to Marine Biology, connected with her students, really knew how to teach, and was well educated in the subject.

Mia stands inside a gazebo on campus.

What advice would you give to incoming freshmen or transfers about making the most out of their college experience?

With me being a senior and having Covid take away my last year at Rowan, I’m thinking back to all the amazing memories I had at Rowan and wish I could have been able to make more this year with my friends and professors.

To the incoming students at Rowan, please make the most out of your time here. Join clubs, go to events, live in a resident hall, eat on campus, sit in the student center pit, sunbathe at Bunce Green, go to the REC center. Be an active student on campus because you never know when it is all going to be taken away. What seems like a normal day on campus might end up being your last, so appreciate every moment here.

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Story by:
Bianca Torres, music industry graduate

Photos by:
Brian Seay, junior sports communication and media major

Meet Transfer Profs: Future History Teacher Joseph Leonard

Stock photo of books.

Meet incoming transfer student Joseph Leonard! Joseph is an aspiring History Education major from Gibbsboro, NJ (Camden County) who transferred from Camden County College. He shares more about what he’s looking forward to at Rowan University and he gives advice to other transfer students.

A selfie of Joseph smiling while in the car.

Welcome to Rowan! Could you share with us one thing you are looking forward at Rowan University?

I’m looking forward to getting back to in-person learning and being able to meet new people again.

What is one hobby, activity, sport or club that you’re involved in that you’d like to continue at Rowan?

Bowling!

A picture of Joseph holding a bowling ball.

Is there anything you’re hoping to discover about yourself at Rowan?

I’m looking to get involved more in clubs and activities outside of my academics. School comes first, but I want to be able to have fun as well.

What majors are you considering and why?

History education. I want to be a teacher because the excitement I get from teaching others about subjects I’m passionate about and history is a subject I’m very passionate about. I love studying the past, learning about the world’s history and also my own.

Did you tour Rowan or attend any virtual events? If so, which ones, and what did you think?

No I haven’t. I’ve been to Rowan once before for my brother’s graduation, but that’s it.

Do you have advice for other transfers who haven’t committed to a school yet?

Always know there is a college for you. You don’t have to be forced into picking any one college. Pick one that makes you happy and excited to continue your education.

Where are you going to live next year?

Commute from home.

What is one thing about Rowan itself that you liked?

I very much like the diversity of the classes offered and how grand the campus appears to be. It also granted me to come in with a head start on my degree.

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Story by:
Bianca Torres, senior music industry major

Header photo courtesy of:
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Senior Reflects: Leadership and Social Innovation Major Sarah Niles

Sarah outside under a blooming tree

Sarah Niles is a senior Leadership and Social Innovation major, with a Dance minor and a CUGS in Adventure Education Leadership, from Haddonfield, NJ.

Could you please share your favorite moment with a faculty member or a favorite experience in one of your classes?

My favorite class experience was in my Wilderness First Responder class when we went out into the woods behind Rowan Hall and pretended we were injured or sick and had to fake rescue our classmates using what we learned in class. We learned how to make tents out of sticks and leaves, how to administer emergency first aid, and how to survive in the elements. It was the most fun I’ve ever had in a class!

Could you please share your favorite social memory?

My favorite memory is my freshman year Homecoming Lip Sync competition! I was on the Student Center and Campus Activities team and we ended up winning first place! That’s where I truly felt like I found a home at Rowan and with the SCCA. That’s also where I met some of my closest friends. Full circle, I actually oversaw that event in Fall 2020 as the student director!

Sarah with Prof Statue.

What are your career aspirations?

I hope to become a professional in Student Affairs in a higher education setting. I want to oversee college students that have a passion for being involved in student activities and being campus leaders. I’ll be attending University of South Florida for the M.Ed College Student Affairs program and will be the new graduate assistant for Student Support Services there.

How did the people or programs at Rowan help or support you with your professional growth or career aspirations?

My mentor, Megan McHugh, guided me to be as involved as I am today, as well as my best friend, Mia Nardone, who basically made me join clubs with her so I would be involved. Through my work with the names above, as well as the SCCA, the Orientation team, and Admissions, I have found my love for student affairs in higher education and I’m determined to continue to do this in my future. 

Do you want to give a thank you or shout out to your family, friends, advisors or mentors?

Shout-out to my dad, who is my best friend and does everything he can to support me. I got my work ethic and drive from him and hope someday I can be as amazing as him. Also, I’d like to shout-out Maria Arbizo, Melissa Ulmer, Megan McHugh, Serafina Genise, Mia Nardone, Dylan Regan, Ayala Gedeon and Arielle Gedeon for supporting me and loving me unconditionally. 

Sarah sitting down outside.

Who is your favorite professor and what class did you take them for? 

My favorite professor is Shari Willis, who I completed my Adventure Education Leadership CUGS with. She is my favorite because she cares about her students as both people and students and is willing to help you do anything to accomplish your goals. 

What advice would you give to incoming freshman or transfers about making the most out of their college experience?

I would say get involved! Don’t sit in your dorm all day long, get an on-campus job. Get the most out of the money you’re paying for student activities fees. Go to events and get free food and t-shirts (you’ll want to make a t-shirt blanket when you graduate).

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Story by:
Caitlyn Dickinson, senior public relations and advertising major

Photos by:
Brian Seay, sophomore sports communication and media major

Senior Reflects: Art Education Major Bianca Fusaro

Bianca smiles with the top of Bunce Hall in the background.

Today, we speak to graduating senior Bianca Fusaro. Bianca is an Art Education major from Randolph, NJ (Morris County). She shares more about her favorite times at Rowan and offers some advice to incoming students. 

Could you please share your favorite moment with a faculty member or a favorite experience in one of your classes?

My favorite moment with a faculty member is with Doc Appelson in Printmaking. He made the class fun to be in and I learned so much. Almost everything in printmaking I know because of him. he also helped me become a better teacher by giving me tips and tricks on how to create printmaking lesson for little kids!

Bianca stands on the steps of Bunce Hall.

Could you please share your favorite social memory?

My favorite memories I have with clubs is every year TRAC, or The Rowan Arts Collective, participated in Homecoming Banner Competition. It was so fun and exciting to complete a banner in a matter of a couple of hours.

What are your career aspirations?

I want to become an elementary art teacher. I love little children, their love to learn and their drive to want to create.

How did the people or programs at Rowan help to support you with your professional growth or career aspirations?

The Art Education program is very small here, but that smallness created a family. Everyone in the program helps each other when it comes to teaching, even our senior project, which is presenting at the Art Educators of New Jersey conference. The professors in the program have been art teachers throughout their life. They know what you’re going to go through when you get a job. They want you to succeed and they share stories to help you become the best art teacher you can be.

Bianca smiles inside a gazebo on campus.

Do you want to give a thank you shout out to your family, friends, advisors or mentors?

I want to thank everyone in the Art Education program. These professors helped my classmates and I become who we are today as teachers. We learned from the best, and I hope that I can be an amazing art teacher like they are.

Who is your favorite professor? What class did you take them for? And why is this person your favorite?

Fred Adelson is my favorite professor at Rowan University. I took his Art History classes during my time at Rowan. He is so knowledgable about everything he teaches. He makes art history fun to learn about because he is so energetic and passionate about everything he teaches.

What advice would you give to incoming first years or transfers about making the most out of their college experience?

Make friends with the people in and outside of your major. Get out there and join clubs that you are interested in. You may make lifelong friends!

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Story by:
Bianca Torres, music industry graduate

Photos by:
Brian Seay, Brian Seay, junior sports communication and media major

History Graduate Student Shares: Teaching Online and Supporting Distant Students [VIDEO]

Rowan Global student Steven Anderson shares how his history degree prepared him as a high school social studies teacher during COVID-19. Steven recently earned the James Madison Fellowship as an outstanding educator of the U.S. Constitution. This prestigious award is granted to only two history teachers yearly.

 

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Video by:
Adam Clark, senior Radio/TV/Film major
Max Morgan, senior Radio/TV/Film major
Brian Seay, sophomore sports communication and media major

Meet Transfer Profs: Future History Educator Kendra Hahn

Exterior shot of Hollybush.

Meet incoming transfer student Kendra Hahn! Kendra plans on majoring in History Education (BA/MST) Program and is from Sicklerville, NJ (Camden County). She transferred from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Kendra shares with us why she chose Rowan and what she’s looking forward to.

A close up selfie of Kendra.

Welcome to Rowan! Could you share with us one thing you are looking forward at Rowan University?

Here at Rowan I am really looking forward to making new friendships and gaining new experiences, but then also being able to successfully pursue my passion.

What is one hobby, activity, sport or club that you’re involved in that you’d like to continue at Rowan?

In high school I was always involved with student council/government and it definitely made me into the person I am today, so I would love to continue that here at Rowan! I also would love to join the Student History Association and even possibly the History Honor Society since I was in History Club and National Honor Society back in high school.

Is there anything you’re hoping to discover about yourself at Rowan? Grow a new skill? Try a new interest? Starting a new activity, sport or club?

At Rowan I definitely want to join a sorority. I believe joining a sorority will provide me with a lot of learning opportunities and help me gain important skills, such as leadership and communication skills. In addition, I think joining a sorority will help me make connections on campus, meet a diverse amount of new people, and give me long-lasting friendships!

What majors are you considering and why?

This fall I will be in the History Education (BA/MST) Program. Ever since I was a young child, I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. Teachers have a unique opportunity to make a difference in the lives of their students, and I even believe they hold the key to secure our future. This is something I long to be a part of. Additionally, I have always had a passion for learning about history, so I have a desire to pass this knowledge on to others in as well as outside the classroom.

A selfie of Kendra smiling.

Did you tour Rowan or attend any virtual events? If so, which ones, and what did you think?

I have toured Rowan a few times when I was in high school, and I also recently just did the virtual guided tour where you walk around campus yourself with a guide on your phone. I enjoyed it a lot, and it made me very excited to be on campus in the fall!

Do you have advice for other transfers who haven’t committed to a school yet?

I know that transferring to a college can be scary and stressful, but just try and stay as positive as possible! The first couple weeks I realized I wanted to transfer, I won’t lie — I felt overwhelmed and not sure where to begin. However, I took my time and made sure to get as much information as possible so I could make a decision that would help me reach every one of my goals.

What is one thing about Rowan itself that you liked?

I love how many opportunities Rowan has for its students as well as their class sizes. I believe that smaller class sizes will give the professor the opportunity to know me as an individual and not just a student, which I find very important. Also, I am really excited that they offer a master’s program for the history education program that I am in!

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Story by:
Bianca Torres, senior music industry major

Student photos courtesy of:
Kendra Hahn

We are #RowanPROUD to be included on Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society’s 2021 Transfer Honor Roll, which recognizes select nationwide colleges and universities that foster dynamic pathways for transfer students.

Rowan Global Student Brittany Passano: Paving the Way for Latina Women in Higher Education

Brittany stands underneath a gazebo on campus.

Brittany Passano, a Rowan Global student from Elizabeth, NJ (Union County), is earning her master’s degree in Higher Education: Administrative track. Here is her inspiring story. 

Brittany learned about Rowan’s graduate program at her prior institution, Montclair University. The program was appealing to her because of the size of Rowan’s residential life department and the benefits that came with the hands-on experience Rowan offers their grads.

Brittany describes it as “a two-year program that develops graduate students working in academic and student affairs. We are tasked to foster diversity and inclusion within the residence halls by supporting students and their identity. Our goal is to learn how to make universities a better place in the future.” 

Currently, Brittany is the Resident Director of Mimosa Hall, a first-year student residence hall on campus. Her job is to oversee the administrative/logistical process of the residence hall and to manage a staff of resident assistants.

“The best way to describe my job is that I assist the RA’s who assist the residents. I make sure my staff has all the right skills and resources to help our students,” she says.

Brittany leans in front of a Mimosa Hall sign.

When asked about the most rewarding part of her job, Brittany replies, “Seeing the transformation in each RA from the beginning of the semester to the end. I love watching my staff grow and help them to improve from their mistakes. It’s so nice to see how each RA makes the job unique to them.” 

Brittany has had influential mentors throughout her Rowan experience.

“Catie Baxter, who was my direct supervisor and area coordinator, really helped me when I first got here. I felt so tiny but she made me come out of my shell and helped me realize I could do it.”

She also talks about the impact her Student Development professor had on her. “Dr. Wright’Mair helped me to get out of my comfort zone and think outside of the box. I learned how to really think critically in that class. Dr. Wright’Mair challenged me to the professional I want to be. “ 

Britt sitting inside a gazebo on Rowan's campus.

Brittany shared how it feels to be a Latina woman achieving her master’s degree. “It feels incredible. I’m proud to be Latina. I wake up every morning, look at my skin and hair, and am thankful that I have it; I think that goes back to my family and how I was raised.

“Being a part of a minority community does come with personal struggles, but with that comes learning to work with integrity and caring about others. Not many Latina women have a master’s degree, but I am looking forward to being a part of the small percentage that will work to make sure there are more women like us in the future,” she explains. 

Brittany is writing her thesis on the Latina student experience with a sense of belonging. 

Brittany stands inside a gazebo on campus.

After graduation, Brittany wants to continue her career in residential life in a professional position. “I’m currently interviewing for positions and can’t wait to take everything I’ve learned into action and practice.”

When asked to give advice to students who want to enter the field of higher education, Brittany says, “Remember your first leadership position and how amazing it was — that experience brought you to this point. Remember that sometimes we have to unlearn to learn, and live in every moment.” 

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Story by:
Loredonna Fiore, junior public relations and advertising major

Photography by:
Stephanie Batista, sophomore music industry major 

Leadership #PROFspective: Alana Brown of Orientation & Student Leadership Programs

Alana Brown sits outside on campus.

Today we feature Alana Brown, a leader at Rowan University. Alana Brown is a Rowan Global student pursuing her master’s degree in Higher Education with an Academic Advising track. She calls Paterson, NJ in Passaic County her hometown. 

This story is part of a series spotlighting campus leaders during Women’s History Month. 

What is your role in your organization? 

As the graduate coordinator of the Orientation & Student Leadership Programs (OSLP) department, I work with data and administration for OSLP as well as for the Office of Greek Affairs. I help students with program initiatives on campus and serve as one of their advisors. I also work with the Leadership Rowan Program. For this program, I coordinate the Mentor and Mentee Matching Program and also serve as one of the facilitators for the Leadership Seminars. I am also coordinating the Celebrating Leadership awards this year. 

OSLP hosts the orientation events that all new students first attend when they come to campus. We host all of the summer orientations and a few in the winter. We also do some transfer orientations as well. Everything the Leadership Rowan Program and the Office of Greek Affairs do is under the OSLP department. 

Alana sits at the amphitheater on campus.

What have you learned in your role as a leader?

I’ve learned that it is something I should be a part of. I know that I should contribute to higher education. I know how important my role is for the students and how I can be a liaison between students and staff. I think it is very important to advocate for students because some may feel like their voice is [unheard]. Knowing that I have that bridge, I know that I have a voice and that my voice should be heard. I’m going to advocate for my students. It’s very important to at least have students come to me and feel comfortable enough to express how they may feel about campus and life. Students will remember you for a lifetime if you make an impact. 

What’s your favorite memory as a leader or at Rowan in general? 

My favorite memory was connecting with Chase Campbell and Mike Nash. They came to me about an event they wanted to host on campus. The conversation organically flowed and we built a strong advisor and student relationship. Connecting with those two students has made such an impact on how I want to be [helpful] for other students at my next institution. That moment is when I realized that this [path] is definitely for me.

When you’re in grad student as a student and a staff member, you have this scale. You always wonder if you’re a student or a staff member. It always puts me in a place where [I realize], “Wow, I’m making an impact but I’m still learning how to make that impact.” It’s so important for me to be in this role. Without it, I would not have realized what I want in the future. 

Where do you see yourself in the future? 

I see myself still working in education, but also have my own nonprofit. I want to have a program that provides a space for Black and brown people to create art, especially if they cannot afford to create art [my program] is there to support them. I have always wanted something of my own to pass on to my community and others. I see myself owning my own business and also still advocating for students. There are limited spaces for Black and brown people; it’s okay to chase your passion. You don’t have to just go to school, sit in a classroom for four years and just learn a skill because you need to make money. It’s ok to want to be an artist. Your art and your passion will bring you clientele. Art keeps me going. 

Who inspires you and why?

My mom is very supportive of my dreams. As many times as she wanted to give up, she always found a way to get it done. My mom has sacrificed a lot for me and my brother. There are not enough “Thank You’s” in the world I can say to her. She’s the best.

Alana sits inside James Hall.

What’s the most significant barrier to women today? 

That’s a hard question because there are so many. We still are not allowed to have a voice. We are told to “let things be how they are.” You step into spaces that may not be diverse. Many times, I’ve been the only Black woman in the room. If I were to speak up, I would be pictured as the “loud, angry Black woman.” I still struggle with this. I want to use my voice, but when I speak people say “she may be angry.” I’m not angry, I’m passionate.

Showing up as your whole self is key. It’s hard being a Black woman. I have to show up in spaces and sometimes keep my mouth shut because I don’t want to be perceived as angry or upset. I don’t regret anything that I have to say. That just makes me, me. I am a bold, Black woman and that’s never going to change. 

What advice would you give to the next generation of leaders?

Always own yourself, [your voice]. Always advocate for what you know is right. Be the change that you want to see. If you don’t like something, speak your voice. That voice should never be silent. Anything that you’re passionate about, your voice should never be silent. 

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Story by:
Marian Suganob, senior public relations and advertising double major

Photos by:
Jabreeah Holmes, senior radio/TV/film major

TRANSFERmation Tuesday: Future High School Teacher Gianna Venturini

Stock photo of sunflowers.

Meet Gianna Venturini, a Secondary Education and History major and Psychology minor. Gianna is a transfer student from Monmouth University but is originally from Rockaway, NJ (Morris County). She shares with us why she chose her major and why she chose Rowan!

A selfie of Gianna holding a sunflower in a sunflower patch.

What are your professional goals? And how is Rowan (your program, faculty, etc.) helping to support you in those goals?

I am currently a senior in the College of Education studying to become a high school teacher. The COE has provided me with so many opportunities to be hands-on in real classrooms, and has continued to support me as I do my clinical practice this semester!

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

I truly believe that becoming a teacher is one of the most important and impactful career fields that a person can get into. As teachers, we are responsible for educating and cultivating the next generation of thinkers and leaders. There is nothing I want more than to inspire and encourage my students to pursue their passions and be there to support them during such an important phase of their lives.

What inspired you to choose your major?

I always knew that I wanted to be a teacher; I was one of the few kids who always loved going to school and had a true love for learning. When I got to high school, I had a really difficult time struggling with mental health issues and I never felt like I had a true support system in a teacher or counselor at the school.

Once I graduated, I knew that I wanted to become the teacher I had needed at such a difficult point in my life, and that is my number one priority as a future educator.

As a student from North Jersey, how did you become aware of Rowan University?

Many people from my high school had gone to Rowan or were planning to after graduation! I also have a family member who attended Rowan.

How long is your trip/drive “home” to North Jersey?

The trip home takes me about two hours — a very long, straight and boring drive up the NJ Turnpike!

A portrait photo of Gianna wearing her high school cap and gown while holding a Rowan flag.

What are some of the benefits for you, living this distance from home?

I think that two hours is the perfect distance because it’s far enough away that I feel like I am living my own life, but close enough and still in NJ so that I can visit my friends and family for the weekend when I want to go home!

What are a few interesting or new things (to you) about Rowan’s South Jersey area that you would share with future out-of-state students?

Prior to coming to Rowan, I had never been to Philadelphia and I had no idea how close it was to campus! Back home, we always refer to New York as “the city” but when I transferred, I had to get used to people calling Philly “the city.” My best friend and I are actually planning on living in Philly after graduation!

What off-campus, local fun places do you recommend students check out?

As I said before, I love how close Rowan is to Philadelphia, and my friends and I often like to visit the city. As a history major, I love exploring the rich culture and historical significance that Philadelphia holds! There are also so many amazing restaurants and bars to check out, as well as fun shops and public park spaces.

Why did you choose to transfer to Rowan University?

The first time I visited and toured Rowan’s campus, I instantly felt at home and knew I wanted to spend the rest of my college career here. I had such a terrible freshman year, and I was desperately in need of a fresh start. That’s exactly the opportunity I saw at Rowan!

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Story by: Bianca Torres, Senior music industry major

Header photo courtesy of: Unsplash 

We are #RowanPROUD to be included on Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society’s 2021 Transfer Honor Roll, which recognizes select nationwide colleges and universities that foster dynamic pathways for transfer students.

TRANSFERmation Tuesday: Future History Teacher Kaan Aktas

Exterior shot of walkway by Bunce Hall.

Today we speak with Kaan Aktas, a senior transfer student from Bergen Community College who majors in History and Subject Matter Education. Kaan, a remote student from Fairview, NJ (Bergen County), is a first-generation college student.

Kaan poses in front of some greenery.

What are your professional goals? And how is Rowan helping to support you in those goals?

My professional goals are to be the instructor of a history classroom. Rowan, especially my advisor, has done a great job in setting me up for my goals by creating benchmarks for my classes and exams where I can keep track of and complete.

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

My field impacts the world by educating the future. I strongly believe that our students are the future of not just our country, but the future of the world. The work and effort you put into a classroom can completely benefit and alter the student’s way of learning for the future.

What inspired you to choose your major?

My passion for history has always been present. Since elementary and middle school I would find the subject interesting. History isn’t just about memorizing dates and people, but how those dates and people have impacted our current society and so forth.

As a student from North Jersey, how did you become aware of Rowan University?

I became aware of Rowan by doing some online research of the top best colleges in New Jersey. I initially fell in love with Rowan while on a tour of the school. The scenery is beautiful, and class sizes are perfectly arranged.

How long is your trip/drive “home” to North Jersey?

My trip “home” to North jersey is approximately an hour and a half.

Kaan poses in front of some colored lights.

What are some of the benefits for you, living this distance from home?

The benefit of living far from home is the college experience you could not have gotten anywhere else. Also, the friendships I have built and experiences I have had are one of a kind.

What are a few interesting or new things about Rowan’s South Jersey area that you would share with future students that are not from the area?

In every corner, there are lots of spots to eat on campus! The wide variety of food, not just located inside of the dining hall, gives students lots of choices for some grub!

What off-campus, local fun places do you recommend students check out?

Some attractions just off campus include many parks where you can take a stroll, or even study!

Why did you choose to transfer to Rowan University?

I transferred to Rowan University because of many factors. The professors are truly great! They work with you with your classes. Class sizes were also an important factor in why I chose to enroll. Unlike other universities in New Jersey, you are not put into a big lecture hall with a hundred other students where the professor has a lot more to manage.

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Story by:
Rachel Rumsby, sophomore communication studies and public relations double major

Photos submitted by:
Kaan Aktas, senior history and subject matter education double major

Header photo by:
Anthony Raisley, senior history major

We are #RowanPROUD to be included on Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society’s 2021 Transfer Honor Roll, which recognizes select nationwide colleges and universities that foster dynamic pathways for transfer students.

Rowan Global Alum Kristi Lancaster Realizes New Career Goal Through Education Programs

Today we feature Rowan Global alumna Kristi Lancaster, who recently earned both her master’s degree in Learning Disabilities and a Learning Disabilities Teacher Consultant (LDTC) certification. Kristi discovered the programs through the New Jersey Teacher Outreach Program (NJTOP®), which supports state educators by making accelerated, graduate-level programs accessible either online at satellite locations, at a discounted rate. Kristi works as a master teacher for a Cumberland County elementary school district. 

Kristi sitting in a rocking chair on her front porch.

Can you explain what a master teacher is?

A master teacher is an instructional coach. We support the teachers by setting up or delivering  professional development, modeling or co-teaching lessons, and assisting with district programs.  We also analyze and share out on school and district-level data. We assist with the communication between the curriculum, instruction and assessment team and the teachers.

What made you decide to go for your master’s degree?

At that time, I was a general education teacher assigned to teach in an inclusion classroom, and I saw a lot of things going on in the special education program that I thought could be improved. I decided I wanted to get my LDTC certification, and in doing that I needed to get my master’s in learning disabilities. 

Why Rowan?

Well, I wanted to stay local. I have two children, so I didn’t want to be far from them. Completing classes and classwork online really helped. The combination of the master’s degree and the LDTC certification [at the time] helped also. The NJTOP program, with accelerated online classes and discounted tuition, tipped the scales and finalized my decision to pursue my degree at Rowan.  

Has there been a class that has been impactful for you?

There was a class on positive behavior supports that really helped to kind of change the way that I think about behavior issues and offered me a different perspective. 

A portrait photo of Kristi.

What is one thing you wish people knew about your academic discipline?

This is really specific to the LDTC, [but] a lot of times there’s friction between teachers and the LDTC, and I guess the biggest thing I’d like people to know is that we’re all on the side of the kids. It’s about everyone working together for the sake of the students involved, and functioning as a team in the child study team is extremely important. 

Where do you see yourself after earning your degree? 

Right now, I’m in a position that I love. I do love where I am right now, but where I see myself next is I would like to transition from the role of a teacher to the LDTC. So I would be doing more of the testing, child study team meetings, and things along those lines.

I’m also interested in pursuing a doctorate eventually, so that’s something I may be looking into. I may want to one day pursue opportunities in administration.  At this moment, I’m not really sure. It’s exciting to know that there are still unknowns. 

On your busiest day, what academic, non-academic and social responsibilities are you juggling? 

I am a mother of two kids. I’m married. We have an English bulldog named Tank. During the school day, I check in with teachers, answer emails about any curriculum-based questions they may have, and visit classrooms. If I have a model lesson set up, I would go and do that. I may have a meeting with [someone from] administration, whether it’s building level or district level. I have different data-based projects throughout the year that I am responsible for, so I try to keep my school assessment data as up-to-date as possible. I’m also responsible for delivering online professional development for teachings, so I spend time planning those presentations. 

I live about an hour from work, so the commute also takes up a lot of time. My children both play sports, so that takes up the rest of my time after school. My son has a lot of food allergies, so I have been promoted to head chef here at our house. I do a lot of allergy-friendly cooking. I typically work on my academic responsibilities once the kids are in bed so that I can focus as much as possible. 

Kristi holding her English Bull Dog named Tank.
Kristi playing with her dog, Tank.

What is one thing this field has allowed you to do that you either dreamed of or you never thought you’d get to do?

I always saw myself in the classroom. I always wanted to be a classroom teacher, that was my number one goal all throughout high school, college. And then as I matured in my career, I started wondering about other options that were available. My preferences started to change. Rowan really opened up the door for me to explore those other opportunities that I didn’t think I’d be interested in. At this point in my life, showing up in a classroom every day is really difficult to do, but Rowan allowed me to do that through their online degree options. 

Final thoughts?

The reason teachers don’t go after the master’s is they think there’s not a way to do it. You can do this. It’s an accelerated course, it takes eight weeks rather than 16. I went slowly. But if you wanted to go quickly and take your classes back to back, it’s a two-year program if you design it that way. And Rowan, they’ve been supportive with all of my needs, my professors, anything, they’re flexible with deadlines. 

As teachers, we have so much on our plates right now you can’t think about adding one more thing. But our plates are big, and you can add one more thing. Rowan makes it doable. I thought it would be impossible, but it’s not.

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TRANSFERmation Tuesday: Elementary Education Major Mikayla Hiddemen

Mikayla standing at the bridge near the student center with snow behind her.

Today we feature Mikayla Hiddemen, an Elementary Education major from Marlton, NJ (Burlington County). Mikayla is a senior, and this is her fourth semester at Rowan University. Mikayla transferred from Rowan College at Burlington County. Tell us a little bit about your favorite class at Rowan so far. My favorite class at Rowan so far […]

TRANSFERmation Tuesday: Elementary Education Major Paige Smith

Page standing behind greenery.

Today we feature first-generation college student Paige Smith, a junior Elementary Education major from Alloway, NJ (Salem County). She is a transfer from Salem Community College, and this past fall was her first semester at Rowan. Why Rowan? I have always dreamt of going to Rowan. For the area that I live in Rowan has […]

4 Mathematics Education Majors Share Insight About Their Major

Backlit image of woman writing on a white board.

Today, we speak to four students pursuing masters’ degrees in STEM education about one thing they wish they knew about their major or something that was better than expected. 

Reese posing for a portrait photo.

“Teaching is a profession that requires passion. I warn future education majors to really make sure they are passionate about teaching and will love what they do. There are things we do not consider in the future before making the decision to be a teacher. For one, we do not have full control of what we teach and how we teach it. There are very specific restrictions and each school has different expectations.  You must have the ability to save money. The final year of your education will consist of you being a full time teacher without any compensation. It will be a lot of hard work but you will learn to appreciate it as time goes by,” says senior Reese Hart a Mathematics and Education major, transfer from Rowan College of South Jersey (RCSJ), from Williamstown, NJ (Gloucester County)

Tiffany posing for a selfie.

“The staff associated with my education degree have by far been the best, most personable, helpful and considerate people in all of my college career!” says first-generation college senior Tiffany Burke with a B.A. in Mathematics with an M.A. in Education and a minor in Psychology, transfer from Rowan College of Gloucester County (now RCSJ) from Buena, NJ (Cumberland County) 

Stephanie posing for a selfie.

“I love how open all the supervisors are with all of us graduates. They go out of their way to help us succeed and treat us all like a large family. If any questions or concerns are had they are answered immediately by the many supervisors in this field,” says senior Stephanie Gomez with a B.A. in Mathematics, working toward M.A. in STEM Education form Laurence Harbor, NJ (Middlesex County)

Michael posing with a trail sign while hiking.

“I would tell people starting this out to save up some money. You’ll need it come clinical year,” says senior Michael Garber Mathematics, transfer from Camden County College (now RCSJ) from Camden County, NJ

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Story by: Bianca Torres, Senior, Music Industry major

TRANSFERmation Tuesday: Michael Grabowy “You Put Heart into This School, You Get Heart Back”

Michael sitting on a stone outside.

Today we feature senior Michael Grabowy, an adult learner double major in Physical Education and Health Studies from Vineland, NJ (Cumberland County). Michael transferred to Rowan from Cumberland County College.  Tell me about your experience at Rowan. I love Rowan. If I didn’t I wouldn’t be here. All of the students and faculty here. With […]

Senior Reflects: Subject Matter Education And English Major Christina Bharda

Christina standing outside.

Today, we speak to senior Subject Matter Education and English dual major Christina Bharda from Middletown, NJ (Monmouth County). She tells us more about her Greek life involvement and what she looks forward to doing with her degree.

Christina smiling outside on Rowan Boulevard wearing a white shirt.

Are you in any campus involvement or clubs?

I’m in a sorority! I’m the vice president of programming and ritual for Alpha Sigma Alpha.

What do you want to do with your degree once you graduate?

I want to teach middle school or high school English. Eventually, I want to teach students with learning disabilities.

What favorite class experience or professor have you had so far?

I would say Dr. Glazer is the most amazing Education professor. I’m also student teaching right now, too so that’s pretty cool! I’m teaching at Millville Memorial High School.

Christina posing with a friend.

How would you rate your Rowan experience as a whole?

Ten out of 10. It has been the best. I definitely picked the right place!

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Story by:
Bianca Torres, senior music industry major

Photography by:
Rachel Rumbsy, sophomore communication studies and public relations double major

TRANSFERmation Tuesday: Early Childhood Education Major Mikayla Priscopo

Mikayla sitting outside of James.

Today we speak to junior Mikayla Priscopo, an Early Childhood Education major from Clayton, NJ (Gloucester County). Mikayla talks about her time here at Rowan and how Rowan has prepared her for her field. How would you tell a fellow student interested in your major that they’re choosing a worthwhile field?  I would tell a […]

NJ Children’s Advocate Kelley Michalowski Advances Degree in Rowan’s Ed.D. Program

Kelley is pictured in her home.

Today we feature Rowan Global student Kelley Michalowski, part of Rowan’s Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (Ed.D.) program, P-12 track. Read more about Kelley’s professional career in education and her personal dedication to lifelong learning. 

Kelley Michalowski will soon be a two-time graduate of Rowan’s College of Education earning her master’s degree and ultimately her Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership. 

Kelley started work with the state’s Juvenile Justice Commission as a teacher, then rose to Supervisor of Education. When she first started her career, Kelley taught first-time offenders; her job was to transition them so they can rejoin society. 

You can now find Kelley serving as Director of the Department of Children and Families. In this role, she oversees the needs of those children living in poor circumstances and their educational needs all over New Jersey. She visits 18 schools ranging from Cape May County to Bergen County. 

Kelley is pictured outside her home.

When asked about how the Ed.D. program will help her in the future, Kelley replies: “It already has. The kids I serve are so underserved and had [few] resources when I got there. So even just the contacts I made and the different roads the districts are doing … we can get them back into districts easier because of the contacts I’ve made, with not only the other students but professors. It’s been fantastic for our schools.”

Kelley started her program with a research theory in mind. She also wants to focus on the impact that can be made on teachers. Her overall goal is to motivate educators who serve underserved students and keep them from getting “burned out.” To do this, she plans on creating a teacher mentorship program to pair teachers together to talk and collaborate.

A class that Kelley regarded as being beneficial to her was her diversity class. She feels as though this class informed her enough to educate others. She and her staff would later be inspired to form a racial equity committee based off of the information that Kelley got from her Rowan class.

Like many, Kelley and her family had to learn how to adjust to a work-at-home environment. In addition to work, Kelley served on two of the state’s COVID committees and continued to work on her program while also attending to her family needs, Kelley has been staying strong and pushing hard to complete her program and help others.

Kelley poses outside her home.

“I always promised my father I would continue,” Kelley mentioned as a part of her inspiration to complete this program. Her father always wanted her to do well in whatever she wanted to do and was excited to learn she would be earning her Ed.D.

Some advice Kelley would like to give to prospective doctoral students is to stay calm and do everything slowly so you won’t stress out. She also wants to let you know that Rowan has very caring professors who only want to watch you succeed.

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Story by:
Cam Hadley, senior public relations and advertising major

5 Early Childhood Education Majors Share How Their Major Interests Them

College of Education student Cheyenne holds a pennant on campus.

Today, five Early Childhood Education majors tell us why their passion lies in teaching and why their major interests them!

Jordyn posing for a picture in front of a scenic waterfall.

“I’ve always wanted to major in special education. My cousin has Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of ASD. I began working in a special services school district and realized how much I loved doing what I do. Once I fully made my commitment, I transferred to Rowan.” – Jordyn Briner, senior, Early Childhood Education major, Psychology minor, transfer from RCBC, Burlington Twp., NJ (Burlington County)

Cheyenne holding a Rowan flag outside on Rowan's campus.

“I knew I wanted to be a teacher when I began working in a daycare center and felt like I was in the right place. It was then that I wanted to learn more about this field.” – Cheyenne Smith, senior, Early Childhood Education major with a Africana Studies and American Studies dual minor, transfer from Camden County College, Somerdale, NJ (Camden County)

Alicia posing for a selfie.

“I’ve always been interested in early childhood education!” – Alicia Bramble, junior, first-generation college student, Early Childhood Education major, transfer from Camden County College, Vineland, NJ (Cumberland County)

Tyra sitting on a yellow bench on Rowans campus.

“For my whole life, I have been surrounded by early childhood education from my mother. After babysitting and looking after my neighbors and friends, I fell in love with helping children learn.” – Tyra McCombs, sophomore, Early Childhood Education and Liberal Studies major, Swedesboro, NJ (Gloucester County)

Grace posing for a photo outside Robinson Hall.

“I have known I wanted to be a teacher since I was very little. I would always play ‘teacher’ in my basement and would write on the walls as if it was a classroom.” – Grace Badillo, senior, Early Childhood Education and Literacy Studies major, Orangeburg, NY (Rockland County)

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Story by:
Bianca Torres, senior music industry major

Photos not submitted by:
Stephanie Batista, sophomore music industry major

Doctoral Student Erica Watson Brown Believes Time Management is the Most Important Part of the Ph.D. Pursuit

Erica Watson Brown stands outside of a playground.

Today we feature Rowan Global student Erica Watson Brown, who’s pursuing a Ph.D. in Education at Rowan. Learn more about her journey, research focus on urban studies and insights on work/life balance. 

Full-time Rowan employee, Erica Watson Brown, is currently in her second year of earning her Ph.D. in Education with a concentration in Urban and Diverse Learning Environments. On top of her doctoral and full-time work, Erica is also a mother and a wife. She is interested in civil rights relating to education, which is evident in her research on diversifying the teacher workforce. 

Having the ability to balance family, work and school was an important factor for the timing of when Erica would pursue this degree. Erica grew a strong interest in Rowan’s Ph.D. program four years ago when she attended an information session. There she asked if it was possible to do the program part time, and they told her not at the time. Erica had been working as a teacher full time in South Jersey, and at that point Erica thought the timing was not right. She said she “wasn’t going to drop any responsibilities in her life.” 

Fast forward a few years later, and Erica landed a job at Rowan University as the Program Coordinator for Elementary Education. After working at Rowan for about a year, she decided it was time to look into the Ph.D. program again. For a number of reasons, she decided that this was a good time to go after the degree. 

Erica Watson Brown stands outside in a playground.

Erica’s concerns about having enough time for all her responsibilities were definitely warranted as she describes the most vital aspect of graduate school is time management. When asked about this, she explained: “The one thing that is the most challenging is all of the reading you have to do. There is a massive amount of information you need to know about different theorists because it will then inform your research at some point in time.”

Erica’s research focuses on diversifying the teacher workforce. This is an issue that hits close to home for her because she went to a school where she was “one of two women of color.” She went on to say she had many good friends and meaningful relationships at school, but it was not always easy. 

“Oftentimes I felt like I was the voice of people of color,” Erica explains. “As a woman of color I have certain insight into situations that relate to social justice.” 

Erica Watson Brown stands outside in a playground.

Her research is extremely prevalent today since it has been made clear there are questions about race that must be asked in every aspect of American life. Erica seems passionate enough about this subject to institute impactful change. 

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Story by:
Luke Garcia, junior music industry major

9 Elementary Education Majors Share What Excites Them About Their Major

Elementary education student poses outside on campus.

Just what excites Rowan’s Elementary Education majors about their program? Today, 9 majors from five counties reveal their answers for Rowan Blog. 

Sandra posing with her graduation cap that says "Ms.Dominguez".

“The thing that excites me the most about my 2 CUGS is being able to create a welcoming and supportive environment for my students. It makes me happy to know that I will be able to value their culture and language in a way that they might have not experienced before. I also enjoy teaching others about the value of emergent bilinguals and how to better support them in all types of settings.” – Sandra Dominguez, senior, Elementary Education major with dual majors in English & Writing Arts, CUGS in Bilingual Education and ESL, Transfer from RCBC, Willingboro, NJ (Burlington County)

TJ sitting on a bench outside on campus.

“What excites me most is being able to go back and teach in my hometown in Camden.” – TJ Jones, senior, Elementary Education and Liberal Studies Major and Writing Arts and American Studies minor, transfer from Camden County College, Camden, NJ (Camden County)

Sara sitting with her family on the steps of Bunce Hall.

“Being able to inspire others to reach their goals, just as I have. I am a first-generation student who was considered an “at risk” student. My parents were immigrants from Mexico who had no education and worked as field workers trying to survive and support their family of ten. I was an emergent bilingual learner and struggled with my academics and had no support at home. School was challenging for me, and I now know how to help other students who share the same background as I did. I want to support them in their journey in school and help them set high goals and achieve them.” – Sara Giron, senior, first-generation, transfer from Cumberland County College, Elementary Education and Literacy Studies major, Bilingual CUGS, Vineland, NJ (Cumberland County)

Tyler sitting outside Wilson Hall.

“Field Experience. There is nothing I love more than being in a classroom and working with students. It is a great change of scenery from a typical college class and I get to learn directly from my experiences.” – Tyler Davis, senior, First-generation, Elementary Education major with a minor in American Studies, Marlton, NJ (Burlington County)

Catherine posing for a picture on a boat dock.

“I love feeling like I have all of the knowledge to support and understand the people I am surrounded by. This CUGS program gives me the tools to actually be able to support future emergent bilingual students with real, substantial tools and suggestions instead of just basic “support” that doesn’t always help as much as it could be.” – Catherine Klinger, sophomore, Elementary Education and Literacy Studies major, Moorestown, NJ (Camden County)

Michael posing for a photo outside on campus.

“I’m excited to take courses pertaining to instruction, specifically, my choice of CUGS, which is ESL education. To gain the knowledge to teach ESL students excites me!” – Michael Keser, junior, first-generation, Elementary Education major, transfer from RCSJ at Cumberland Campus, Vineland, NJ (Cumberland County)

Cameron posing for a photo outside on campus.

“The idea of meeting both students and their families and being one of the biggest factors in the beginning stages of their lives. There are many challenges that are presented to kids during the course of their educational careers, but for some, it is more diverse and harder than others. Some have special needs and special experiences in which they can bring valuable perspective to the table. I was one of the kids. I have Auditory Processing Disorder, so I know the ins and outs of both the 504 and IEP experiences. I know where especially these kids are, and their challenges that both they and their parents may be still trying to explore together. I have been in their shoes, and I can easily relate to them and derive strategies that can work for everyone.” – Cameron Dubrow, senior, first-generation, transfer from Camden County College, Elementary Education and Writing Arts major from Voorhees, NJ (Camden County)

Ashley posing for a photo outside on campus.

“The incredible sense of community! I formed a Rowan family of preservice teachers once I completed my general education courses and moved into core classes. We’ve been able to lean on each other through coursework, Praxis test prep, and the student teaching process. Education is truly a major that will make you feel at home.” – Ashley Mosley, junior, Elementary Education and Literacy Studies (Salem County)

Cait posing for a photo at the Sugar Factory restaurant.

“I’m most excited about being able to teach and also helping kids grow.” – Cait Braun, Sophomore, Elementary Inclusive Education with a minor in Psychology, Hammonton, NJ (Atlantic County)

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Story by:
Bianca Torres, senior music industry major

Photography, if not provided, taken by:
Stephanie Batista, sophomore music industry major

#PROFspective: Combined Advanced Degree Program (CADP) in Subject Matter Education: English Major Dominique DiGiacomo

Dominique poses in front of a stream.

Today we feature Dominique DiGiacomo, a rising senior in the Combined Advanced Degree Program (CADP) in Subject Matter Education: English program, minors in International Studies and Asian Studies, and a Certificate of Undergraduate Studies in Japanese.  Dominique is a commuter student this coming year from Atco, NJ (Camden County).

Dominique poses in her Rowan attire.

On your busiest day, what academic, non-academic, and social responsibilities are you juggling?

On my busiest day, I am juggling two to three classes along with an opening shift (6:30-11 a.m.) for work as a building manager at the student center, an hour workout at the gym/kickboxing, an hour meeting for my second job, and a club meeting in which I am the vice president. 

Did you ever have a moment of uncertainty within your major? How did you get through the challenge?

Yes, I have experienced a moment of uncertainty within my major. There was a time in which I was not enjoying my education classes as much as my classes that were going towards my international studies minor. In order to get through this challenge, I talked to my teachers as well as those who I trusted to confide in them and ask for their opinions. This moment helped me to rediscover my passion for education and it also helped me to combine both my passion for education and international studies into one. 

Dominique poses with some friends in front of a "Rowan University" banner.

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

After my freshman year, I had the opportunity to work as a PROS (Peer Referral and Orientation Staff) member for Rowan orientations, as well as an SCCA staff member in the game room. The moment I started these two jobs was the moment I felt I really belonged at Rowan University. Through these jobs, I not only met new friends, but I also formed new families within the Rowan community. Working for Rowan really helped me to feel at home within the university.

Tell us about your transition into college and how you pushed through any challenges

Transitioning into college was definitely a nerve-racking situation. It was my first time living away from home, as well as the first time I had so much freedom in my life. These nerves, however, only lasted for the first week of school. Overcoming these nerves proved to be a lot easier than I had expected. I made sure to be social, interact with my roommate and my classmates and joined a few clubs. I also realized that every freshman in college was in the same boat; they were all nervous and looking to make friends. After realizing this, my transition to college became a whole lot easier. 

Dominique poses with some friends in the ballroom.

What advice would you give your high school self about choosing a college?

Don’t feel pressured by your friends to choose a certain school. Go on tours, interact with students, and get excited about going to college. Choose the place you feel most at home because college truly does become your second home. 

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Story by:
Rachel Rumsby, rising sophomore communication studies and public relations double major

Photos contributed by:
Dominique DiGiacomo

Beyond the Classroom: Music Education Major Mike Massaro Directs Two Local High School Bands

stock image of a trumpet player against a red background

Meet Mike Massaro, a recent Music Education graduate and commuter from Swedesboro, NJ (Gloucester County). He had the great opportunity to take his musical skills outside of the classroom and was able to direct the jazz band and marching band at a local high school. He tells us more about his experience and his passion for music education.

Four years ago, every single person I knew was telling me, “All of the opportunities and resources are there, you just have to choose to use them.” Genuinely, it probably took me until my 7th semester to truly understand what that meant. However, I had been surfing the opportunities of Rowan University since the first day I stepped on the campus.

Music Education is considered a double major at RU — music and education. Because of this, my program involves being a student of both the College of Performing Arts and College of Education (two degrees, two commencement ceremonies, etc).

The most amazing aspect of this has been being able to learn from and collaborate with my student colleagues and the incomparable faculty from both colleges. Being around other people who want to see you learn is what truly can put your college education to the next level.

I’m going to be very real here: more than likely, you will graduate. You will get the paper. At the end of the day, many will earn that paper, but the paper isn’t what matters in the end. It’s the education that went INTO the paper. What can YOU do to make what is very likely to be your most enriching 4+ years of education as educational as possible for YOU?

As an educator, my belief on this is very firm and was inspired by one of our CPA adjunct professors, Mr. Gerry DeLoach. The passion for what it is that you are teaching is what will drive you forward as an educator. Your knowledge and ability in your specific subject or field is what makes you tick. It is so important to keep that flare to learn alive. What you do in your field sets your ability for what you can do as a teacher. How tall will you let that ceiling be?

Mike Massaro playing trumpet with a high school band on the bleachers.

Here’s a short story. I was offered a very rare opportunity to direct a marching band and jazz band at a local school, Woodstown High School, while still completing my undergrad. By my sophomore year I was directing the jazz band, and junior year I was directing the marching band. It was a dream come true come early — teaching real students.

The program showed success very quickly. One of my beliefs when it comes to teaching is that the best way to learn how to teach is to teach. I wanted to do as much as I could for this school’s music program. It seemed like every day I was at Rowan, speaking to my professors about teaching strategies, learning more about music, and sharing and listening to stories; then in the evening, I would go put it all into practice when I taught for real. One of my biggest focuses through my undergrad was on making this program grow, because I knew that the more I was able to learn as a musician and a teacher, the more I would be able to teach these students. I think it is very important as a teacher to learn from your students, as they can teach us far more than we can teach them. I certainly learned so much from them.

Rowan let me learn from these students.

If it wasn’t for the education that I received every day, the conversations and performing experiences that I had, I would have never had anything fresh to offer my students. I’ve had professors come out to Woodstown on their own time to give clinics to the bands and watch me teach. What the faculty has to offer is truly unmatched. Rowan is a growing school that still has a small school feel where it matters the most — in the classroom.

The professors here care for you and want to watch YOU learn. We don’t have massive educational lectures. We have conversations about the real world and how you can make it better. In my teaching, I can directly categorize aspects of individual professors that have molded so many aspects of my musicianship and teaching.

Mike Massaro sitting with a trumpet

Thanks for making it to the bottom of my text blob. I have one more blurb. My trumpet professor, Dr. Bryan Appleby-Wineberg, once said, “You can’t change the whole world at once, but you can start by changing your corner of it.” Dr. AW’s belief about education is one that should resonate with all of us. Educators are at the center of any community. The educators teach the students, the students graduate, the students get jobs, contribute to our workforce, grow the economy — the students become the doctors, entertainers, designers, chefs, researchers who allow our community to grow. It all starts at the educator.

The educators are the students. The students are the educators. Be the best one you can be and take the opportunity. We are profs. Eruditio spes mundi — education, hope of the world.

If I knew my last time riding back from the student center on my skateboard holding my box of hot pulled pork with a piece of cornbread and a cup of red Gatorade would be my last time, I probably would have done it again. Remember that when you get nervous, it’s because you care.

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Passing the Torch: Master’s Graduate, Teacher Offers Advice

Megan Pfizenmayer stands outside of Bunce Hall in her cap and gown

Meghan Pfizenmayer, who recently earned her master’s degree in Special Education, advises future graduate students to learn “time management, between working and school online, not waiting until the night before to get things done.

“I would do a lot of school work after my own school day was over. I might be there until 8 or 9 p.m., but it helped me keep everything going and not doing things the night before,” she explains.

Megan Pfizenmayer stands with her mom and a graduation sign outside of Bunce Hall

Meghan, from Gloucester County, NJ, works as an elementary school resource room teacher for the Washington Township School District. She says her Inquiry in Special Education Settings class, a capstone course she took her last semester, was among her favorites.

“It was a research-based class. It was interesting, too, because we had to shift due to coronavirus. It helped me a lot to learn how to do online teaching,” she adds. 

While celebrating her graduation with family, Meghan realized just how long she’s really been part of the Rowan community. 

Megan Pfizenmayer stands outside of Bunce Hall with her family

“I grew up on this campus. I went to Kids Rule summer day camp here from the time I was 6. Just walking around the campus, we would have field trips out here. It’s a [surreal] end to my journey,” she says. 

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20 Classes at Rowan to Further Education on Race & Social Justice

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As the Division of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion stated earlier this month, “Universities are not exempt from facing issues that plague our society and threaten our democracy.” It is extremely important to recognize these issues and take the necessary steps to educate ourselves and those around us on the dangers of racism, to start making the changes the world needs to see.

These courses* are available to Rowan students, focusing on the history of race, the dangers that racism instills in society, and ways that we can prevent racism as a community. 

  1. Black Lives Matter: An Ethnographic Perspective of The Movement (AFST 11350)

Oppression, injustice, and violence has plagued black and brown lives through a history of colonization in the United States. Beyond the black nationalist movements of the 19th and 20th centuries, the New Jim Crow has given rise to the #BlackLivesMatter movement. The #BLM Movement has erupted as a platform that has fueled social media activism and creates space for grassroots organizing that emboldens narratives of rupture and resilience and asserts the voices and dignity of all.

This course will cover topics related to the socio-cultural, political, legal, and education foundational aspects of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Students will gain real-life perspectives on the impact of the BLM Movement on America’s current social justice landscape as well as their own personal assumptions. Students will engage in critical reflection, in-class discussion and debates, as well as an analysis of the constructs of culture, race, and class in order to gain a better understanding of their identity and social categorizations in America’s established systems of oppression.

Two students wearing Rowan t-shirts sit on a ledge overlooking the Engineering Pond.

  1. Anthropology of Race and Ethnicity (ANTH 02275)

This course focuses on the historical development and current status of the race concept, a purported descriptor of human diversity and potential. Using the perspectives of four-field anthropology, this course covers the historical development of the race concept as well as current scholarship, controversies and consequences of race. Students will read relevant texts from biological anthropology, linguistics, cultural anthropology and archaeology.

  1. Examining Intersectionality in Critical Theories of Race, Class, Gender, Sexuality & Citizenship (CASE 90512)

This course provides an overview of intersectionality and selected theoretical lineages which intersectionality often draws from including feminism, critical theory, critical race theory, ethnic studies, queer studies, nationalism, and de/post-colonialism. Beyond studying and summarizing relevant work, the course challenges students to critically synthesize and apply these frameworks to the study of urban education and communities.

  1. Race, Ethnicity, Class & Justice (CJ 09532)

This course will include an in-depth study of race, ethnicity and class, and their evolving impact upon the U.S. criminal justice system, as well as the system’s impact on minorities, the poor, and their communities. A major focus of this course will be a critical examination and analysis of how race, ethnicity, and class have impacted the nature, content, and quality of justice that is rendered within the nation. One major purpose of our study is to provide students with an opportunity to gain sophisticated understanding of the inequities that minorities experience within our system of justice and in the wider community. Students will learn to critically assess significant research concerning race, ethnicity and class and the criminal justice system, and understand the practical applications of this research.

Three students talking outside Chamberlain Student Center

  1. African American Literature I (ENGL 02354)

This upper-level survey course examines African American literature from its beginnings in the colonial period through the Harlem Renaissance. We will engage in close readings of seminar vernacular, autobiographical, poetic, creative, and critical tests, exploring the relationship between literary expression and the highly charged American social, cultural, and political histories that form its context.

  1. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in U.S. Literature (ENGL 02530)

This class explores the ways literary texts enforce, subvert, or otherwise complicate constructions of race, ethnicity, class, gender, age, physical ability, religion, and/or sexual orientation. The course will address topics such as the formation of identity, both personal and cultural; privilege and exclusion; assimilation and the myth of the melting pot; immigration; geographical and metaphorical borderlands; and the complexities of ethnic, religious, and political nationalism.

  1. Hip Hop Culture: Music, Lifestyle, Fashion and Politics (MUS 40344)

The main objectives of this course are to discuss the origins of Hip Hop culture and study its influence around the world. Students will explore the key elements of Hip Hop, understand the importance and necessity of entrepreneurship and analyze how the Hip Hop Culture has evolved into a dominant force over the years. Students will examine the impact that Hip Hop has on fashion by helping to catapult the sales and positioning of major fashion and sneaker brands as well as creating independent clothing lines by way of entrepreneurship. The course will discuss and analyze the unprecedented effects and influence that Hip Hop has on global lifestyles, language, and politics.

Students sitting at the picnic tables outside above the Student Center Patio.

  1. History of American Education (FNDS 21150)

This course provides an in-depth study of American education from 1600 to the present, covering preschool through post-secondary education. It focuses on the social forces, sources of conflict, major educational figures and patterns of schooling during each period. In addition, the course will highlight the ways in which diversity has been accommodated, marginalized, or rejected in American education. Students will be able to identify and discuss ways in which diversity has been accommodated, marginalized, or rejected in American education.

four students sitting next to each other outside, wearing Rowan t-shirts.

  1. Songs Of Praise/Protest (INTR 01172)

This course will examine the ways in which music has served as an instrument for social change. African-American music in the form of Spirituals and Blackface Minstrelsy will provide a mechanism for exploring social change, tensions between races, confused dynamics of racial identity, and stereotypes. Hymns of the late 18th and early 19th century will demonstrate how women used song as a means of self-expression denied them in other spheres. Finally, the civil rights and protest songs of the 60s and 70s will provide a backdrop for exploring issues of race and social culture.

  1. Minorities, Crime And Criminal Justice (LAWJ 05205)

In this course students critically examine the involvement of minorities with crime in the U.S. both as perpetrators and victims. Additionally, they will be afforded the opportunity to understand, critically examine, and apply significant theoretical perspectives for the study of minority criminality. They will develop an understanding of the impact of race and class within the law-making process, the content of the law, and the quality of justice afforded minorities within the American criminal justice system.

  1. Philosophy and Race – WI (PHIL 09327)

This course will explore philosophical issues related to “race,” including the role of modern European philosophers in the development of the concept of ‘race’ and historical and contemporary critical examinations of ‘race’ and racism.

  1. The Politics of Race in American Society (POSC 07324)

This course examines the central role of race in American political culture and American politics at large. We will examine concepts through the use of interdisciplinary resources including film, biography and scholarly materials. The course will approach the study of race through an intersectional lens.

  1. Psychology Of Racism And Ethnocentrism: Causes, Development, Consequences, Solutions (PSY 01310)

This course provides an opportunity for students to develop critical understanding of psychological perspectives regarding the root causes, complex patterns, and the individual, group, and societal consequences of racism and ethnocentrism in the United States of America. The course will draw upon comparative data regarding the psychological factors involved in historic or contemporary race and ethnic relations within selected international contexts to explore parallel and unique cross-cultural phenomena.

  1. Environmental Justice: Race, Class, and Gender (SOC 08442)

This course examines issues of environmental equity and social justice. It examines the rights of people to live in a clean environment free from hazardous pollution or contamination and to access the natural resources necessary to sustain health, safety, and livelihoods. A primary focus of this course will be the topics of race, class, and gender as they relate to environmental disputes.

Biology student studies in Science Hall

   15. Critical Race Theory: Social Justice, Advocacy and Intervention (SOC 08488)

Students will explore the social construction of race and the subsequent implications this phenomenon has for particular members of this society. Building upon the origins of the Critical Legal Studies Movement and Critical Race Theory (CRT), students will examine their own dispositions for significant issues from the centrality of race to better understand the need for becoming social justice advocates while learning a variety of social justice intervention strategies.

  1. Critical Race Theory: Application and Intervention (SOC 08578)

Students will explore the social construction of race and the subsequent implications this phenomenon has for particular members of society. Building upon the origins of the Critical Legal Studies Movement and Critical Race Theory (CRT), students will examine their own dispositions for significant issues from the centrality of race, class and gender to better understand the need for becoming social justice advocates while learning a variety of social justice intervention strategies. Specific attention will be focused on the medical/clinical setting where issues of race, class and gender can pose barriers to culturally competent care for clients.

  1. Black Americans and American Politics (POSC 07324)

This course examines the role of Black Americans in the political system, the forms and changing nature of their participation and a review of judicial and administrative decisions affecting the political and social status of Black Americans. This course may not be offered annually.

  1. African American History to 1865 (HIST 05376)

This course surveys the major social, economic and cultural developments of the black community from Africa to the Civil War. It emphasizes a comparison of the transition from Africa to slave culture and studies the contribution of blacks to the making of America.

  1. African American History Since 1865 (HIST 05377)

This course studies the development of the black community from emancipation to contemporary America, tracing such major themes as the pattern of migration and the various methods of black protest developed and employed in the 20th century.

  1. Sociology of Minority Groups (SOC 08230)

This course analyzes the nature of the relationships among ethnic, racial and other groupings in our society. It examines and tests sociological theories by the study of specific past and present minority group situations.

Two students dressed in labcoats and goggles, holding vials in a science laboratory.

*Disclaimer: Not all of these courses are offered this fall, and some may already be full; check for availability when it is time to register. 

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#Rowan2020 Instagram Contest Winner Jodi Heady

Jodi holding her decorated Graduation cap that says, "It takes a big step to shape little minds."

Meet #Rowan2020 Instagram Contest winner and recent graduate, Jodi Heady! Jodi graduated in Literacy Studies under Subject-matter Education with two minors in Education and Psychology. Jodi commuted to Rowan during her last semester from her home in Mantua, NJ (Gloucester County). She’s a first-generation college student who transferred to Rowan University from Rowan College of South Jersey. She reflects on her time at Rowan and tells us where she’s headed next.

How does it feel to be an official college graduate?

It feels great! I am a first-generation college student, so to be able to have this accomplishment for not only myself but for my family as well is a great achievement. I worked very hard to graduate, and although I loved my time at Rowan, I am excited to see what is next for me.

What was your most memorable experience at Rowan?

My most memorable experiences at Rowan are the times I was able to work with the amazing students and staff in the Reading Clinic and the Rowan University Early Childhood Demonstration Center. The Reading Clinic is where I had my classes School Reading Problems and Supervised Clinical Practice in Reading. In those classes, I was able to tutor children with reading comprehension, fluency, writing and word study. I loved seeing how much the children’s literacy skills grew by the end of each semester.

In this class, I worked with amazing people who guided me in my journey to become a teacher. Those people include my classmates, Kelly the secretary, and my professor the amazing Dr. Valarie Lee. I also loved my time at the Rowan University Early Childhood Demonstration Center. The children and staff there were all so sweet, and it was the best way to either start or end my school day! I loved seeing how creative the children could be. And I loved having little dance parties with the children. I do not think I ever had a day there where I was not laughing or smiling.

What are the things you will miss the most about Rowan?

I will definitely miss the staff and students at Rowan University Early Childhood Demonstration Center. I will also miss my advisor (April Ellerbe), and my professors I had throughout my years here at Rowan. I will also miss HollyBash, it was always something I looked forward to during the Spring semester.

What’s next for you?

I have been applying to many daycares to become a teacher lead, and I am just waiting to hear back from them. I heard back from one daycare, and they told me when they are open again they will get in touch with me!

Any advice for those who are graduating next year?

Be proud of this accomplishment no matter how long it took you. I am graduating with my bachelor’s in Literacy Studies after six years of college, and I am very proud of myself. No matter if you graduate in four years or six years or more than that, what you have done is amazing and I want you to celebrate this milestone. You deserve it!

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Senior Reflects: Future Elementary School Teacher Kimberly Hanson

Kimberly poses with her daughter.

Today we feature Elementary Education and History dual major and recent graduate Kimberly Hanson. Before campus closed due to COVID-19, she commuted from her home in Williamstown, NJ (Gloucester County). Kimberly transferred to Rowan from Camden County College. 

What is your favorite moment with a faculty member or a favorite experience in one of your classes? My favorite moments are when I Kimberly poses for a selfie in sunglasses and a baseball cap.spent one-on-one time with my professors. It gave me the chance to ask questions that I didn’t feel comfortable asking in class. I’ve had some pretty amazing professors!

What was your favorite or most meaningful personal moment at Rowan? I’m a full-time mom and live off campus, but a while back I had joined club swimming. I had left because it didn’t fit my schedule anymore. But while I was there, it was a great experience! It was great to get back into the sport and to meet some new people!

What are your career aspirations and how did the people or programs at Rowan help to support you with those aspirations? My overall aspiration is to become an elementary teacher. All my professors have been helpful but my advisor, April Ellerbe, has been so helpful will my class choices and giving me all the tools I need to succeed! 

Kimberly Hanson poses for a photo with her boyfriend.

Do you want to give a thank you shout out to your family, friends, advisors or mentors? Thank you to my family and friends for supporting me through this, but a huge thanks to my boyfriend who has been a huge support system for me. He has been so understanding and helpful when it comes to school, work and our daughter.

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Senior Reflects: Early Childhood Education Major Already Making a Difference

Stock image of close up of adult hands guiding child's hands drawing.

Meet Candice Gavin, a first-generation college student, transfer student, commuter and Early Childhood Education and Literacy Studies major from Mount Ephraim, NJ (Camden County). She reflects on her time at Rowan and tells us some of her favorite experiences and where she’s headed to next!

Tell us about your favorite moment with a faculty member or a favorite experience in one of your classes:

I would have to say that my favorite experience was tutoring in the Reading Clinic during School Reading Problems and Supervised Clinical for Reading. I would tutor students in reading and writing who were struggling. It was rewarding to see such progress from the students. They would come in struggling and by the time the semester was over they had made great strides. I wasn’t expecting my student to master every topic because it was a short time spent with each other. Knowing that I made a little difference was a great feeling! It was fun to come up with engaging lessons and activities to use. It was just a great way to practice what I have learned and a great feeling to help students.”Candice Gavin stands with hands on her hips, on a sunny day.

What was your favorite or most meaningful personal moment at Rowan?

I have had many moments that had a significant meaning to me during my time at Rowan. One of my favorites was when I participated with the Early Childhood Club for the Haunted Student Center. This was where I really connected with a lot of club members and had a lot of fun! We transformed a classroom into a circus theme and children would walk through and have a chance to do different activities. It was nice to have an opportunity to do something for children and have a lot of fun with club members while doing it.”

What are your career aspirations and how did the people or programs at Rowan help to support you with those aspirations?

I hope to be a kindergarten or first grade teacher. Rowan has given me many opportunities to go out into the field and interact with students and teachers. It was a great way to network and learn hands on. In teaching we can read and study, but you really get the full experience when you are in the classroom actually teaching and working with students.”

Shout outs:

“I want to give a shout out to my mom, dad, and sister who have been there since day one. It has been a long ride, but they stuck by my side giving me support and encouragement when I needed it the most! I also want to give a shout out to Brandi White (the former Praxis Lab Coordinator) for helping me during this journey. She was always there as a mentor and friend! My group of friends all deserve a shout out too. They have experienced all the highs and lows of this journey with me too, so thanks for all your help! Lastly, my professors and advisor deserve recognition. They always wanted what was best for me and guided me in the right direction to get to this opportunity. I wouldn’t have made it this far without having the best support system, thank you all!”

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Senior Reflects: Changing Majors to Find Passion

Stock image of black ink cursive on tepia colored paper.

A close-up photo of Genna posing and smiling in front of a busy street in New York City.

Meet Genna Gaskill, a first-generation college student and Elementary Education and Liberal Studies Dual Major with sequences in Writing Arts and English. She is from Egg Harbor Township, NJ (Atlantic County). In her time at Rowan she spent half of her time living on campus and the other half in a house off-campus. She reflects on her time at Rowan and tells us some of her favorite experiences and where she’s headed to next!

What are your career aspirations and how did the people or programs at Rowan help to support you with those aspirations?

I had some trouble when I first came to Rowan figuring out what I wanted to be. I started off as a Civil Engineering major, then I went into Music Education, and eventually Elementary Education and Liberal Studies. It took me a while, but through taking all of these different classes, I was able to realize my passion for education. I want to be an elementary school teacher and, one day, an administrator in a public school district.

The first professor who helped me realize this passion of mine was Dr. Adrian Barnes in my Music Education classes. He showed me a passion for education that I learned from and took with me in my future education classes and I will forever be grateful for his teachings. My other professors in my Education classes, such as Nancy Pagliughi, Arlene Stampa, and Gary Dentino, are who took that passion I had for teaching and shaped me into a real teacher. I will always remember their teachings when I have a classroom of my own. I would be remiss if I did not also mention my Writing Arts and English professors who helped me realize my talent for writing and showed me how to use that to make me into a better teacher. My professors Keri Mikulski, Dr. Jennifer Courtney, Amanda Haruch, and Dr. Yvonne Hammond, all saw my potential and shaped me into the writer and educator I am today. I have had so many amazing professors at Rowan that have given me knowledge and skills that I will be forever grateful for!”

What was your favorite or most meaningful personal moment at Rowan?

My most meaningful moments at Rowan were when I was President of my sorority, Alpha Sigma Alpha. I met so many of my greatest friends there and almost every one of my good memories comes from them. Going to Greek Week, volunteering at the Special Olympics, and recruitment are just a few things that I will always remember and treasure from my time with ASA. My roommates, Rachael, Sara, and Nicole, were with me through three years of being at Rowan and they were the reason I called Rowan my home. Looking back at my time in college in the future, I know I will fondly remember the times I spent with them the most.”

Genna Gaskill hikes in the red mountain region - here she is sitting on a rock with mountains behind her.

Tell us about your favorite moment with a faculty member or a favorite experience in one of your classes: 

One memory I have of my experience in the College of Education that I think I will always remember was being in Professor Gary Dentino’s class. Almost every single day, he would email us a whole letter telling us how proud he was of us and how we will change the world. He took the time out of his day to handwrite personal letters to us as a class almost daily. Even when my classes were getting tough and I felt like I was falling behind, I would read his daily email and feel like I truly had someone in my corner. His dedication to forming a positive and uplifting relationship with his students is something I hope to carry with me when I become a teacher someday.”

Shout outs:

“I’d like to give a special shoutout to my best friends in the entire world: Sara Riegel, Nicole Traeger, and Rachael Kolmins. Thank you for always being there for me through it all. Another special shoutout to all of my ladies at Alpha Sigma Alpha, especially my big Rosie Nanfara and my little Emily Fishman. Keep on joyously living each day to its ultimate good! Shoutouts to other amazing people I met at Rowan like Hersh and Fraidy Loschak from Chabad at Rowan, Celeste DelRusso and Donna Mehalchick-Opal from the Rowan Writing Center, and all of my fellow Edgewood RAs. Thank you for making a difference in my life! One more shoutout goes to my boyfriend, Mark Kozak, for being my rock throughout my years at Rowan. My biggest thanks will go to my parents, who are the reason that I am where I am. Thank you Mom and Dad for everything, I love you!”

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Senior Reflects: Health & Physical Education Medallion Winner Angela Lakatos

Exterior shot of Rowan owl statue on Rowan's Glassboro campus

Today we speak to Health and Physical Education major Angela Lakatos, a new alumna from Pennsville, NJ (Salem County)! Angela is a transfer from Georgian Court University who lived off campus. Angela is a first-generation college graduate.

What was your favorite moment with a faculty member or a favorite Headshot of health and physical education major Angela Lakatos.experience in one of your classes? There are so many favorite experiences I’ve had at Rowan. Some of my favorite memories and moments are from my Physical Education classes! My group of classmates are so competitive and every class was so much fun!

What was your favorite or most meaningful personal moment at Rowan? One of my most meaningful moments was when I was told that I was not only nominated but I was awarded the Cone Award Medallion for Teaching Students with Disabilities. This award means so much to me because I have learned so much from teaching the students with disabilities at my elementary student teaching location and my passion for Health and Physical Education grew even more because of those students.

Health and physical education major Angela Lakatos with her family.
Angela (left) with her family.

What are your career aspirations and how did the people or programs at Rowan help to support you with those aspirations? I hope to become a Health and Physical Education teacher! Every professor has helped me get to where I am today, along with a few of my fellow classmates.

Do you want to give a thank you shout out to your family, friends, advisors or mentors? Shout out to Professor McCall and Professor Lieberman! These two awesome humans have taught me so much as a future educator. They are the best, and I know that all of my fellow classmates would agree with me on that!!! Also, of course shout out to my parents! If it wasn’t for them, I don’t know where I’d be or what I would be doing. They have always supported me and have been my back bone. I believe I have the best parents in the whole wide world (I might be biased)!!!

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Story by:
Rachel Rumsby, freshman communication studies and public relations double major

Senior Reflects: Aspiring Elementary Ed Teacher Shares Her Story

casey and three friends posing for a grad pic.

Meet Casey Urion, a graduating senior from Pilesgrove, NJ (Salem Casey standing in front of the owl statue.County) who double majored in elementary education and literacy studies. Casey looks forward to a career as a second grade teacher and thanks her mentors and friends for years of support. 

Favorite moment with a faculty member: I can’t think of a favorite moment or experience but I do know that one of my favorite professors and classes taken at Rowan was Principles and Pedagogies with Corine Brown. Through this course, I was able to explore different topics centered around multicultural education and student diversity within the classroom. Corine Brown was always welcoming and engaging and her approach to teaching the material was eye-opening. I left that class with a greater appreciation for student diversity and more knowledge on how to create and develop an inclusive, safe, and nurturing learning environment for all students. 

How did you meet your closest friends at Rowan? I actually met my two best friends, Julia Barr and Karlyn Harlow, prior to attending Rowan through a program called RUTA (Rowan Urban Teacher Academy). We attended this program the summer of our junior year in high school and I was lucky enough to come back the following summer, along with Karlyn, to be mentors for the program. Before coming into my freshman year at Rowan University, I signed up for the Freshman Connection Adventure program in order to meet new people and make my transition a little easier. Before official move-in day, the Freshman Connection groups held a picnic and that is where I reunited with Julia as she was in the Leadership program. I was so surprised but happy to see a familiar face and we hung out for the rest of the day. When school started, I bumped into Karlyn on campus and asked her to hang out with Julia and I and from that day forward, we grew to become best friends, roommates for 3 years, and sisters in Theta Phi Alpha. They are a huge part of what made my college experience so memorable and I’m so lucky to have them in my life.

Career aspirations: Casey and a friend in front of the rowan owlMy career aspirations are to become an elementary school teacher (preferably second grade) and go back to school to receive my master’s in education. I hope to get involved as much as possible within the school community and eventually become a dean of students at an elementary school. 

Shout outs! I want to give a special shoutout to my grandparents, Earl and Eileen Urion, for supporting me all these years and giving me the opportunity to achieve my dream in becoming a future educator. I want to thank all of my Rowan professors and advisors, Achieving the Dream Program, and the LLSC Department for the guidance and support. I want to thank Theta Phi Alpha Fraternity for the opportunity to grow as an individual and the amazing people and friendships I’ve made through this organization. I want to thank my cooperating teacher, Elizabeth Schneider, for being so welcoming, kind, and willing to help me succeed in every way possible. I appreciate all of your feedback and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with you. Thanks to my best friends, Dana Terry and Sarah McGoldrick, for always sticking by my side and being my biggest fans since we were in Elementary School. Without you two, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I want to thank my other best friends, Julia Barr and Karlyn Harlow, for being my rocks throughout college. You are both so inspiring and I am so lucky to have you in my life. Last but not least, I want to thank my amazing, hard-working, and caring boyfriend, Brandon Bedilion. You have given me endless amount of support in everything I do and you push me to be a better person. I wouldn’t want to continue on this journey with anyone else by my side. 

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TRANSFERmation Tuesday: Elementary Education/Literacy Studies Major Samantha Shralow

View of James Hall, the education building, with purple flowers in the foreground.

Today’s TRANSFERmation Tuesday features Samantha Shralow, a junior transfer from Camden County College. Samantha is an elementary education and literacy studies major who commutes to campus from her home in Marlton, NJ (Burlington County).

Samantha sits criss cross apple sauce in front of blooming tulips, laughing.

Could you share with us one moment that made you feel inspired or confident that you’re in the right field for you?

Since I have transferred to Rowan, I have felt super confident that I am in the right field. Ever since I was a kid, I have wanted to become a teacher and now that I am taking the steps and am close to fulfilling my goals, I feel very inspired and confident that I can make a positive change in students’ lives. All of my professors at Rowan have been great and truly practice what they preach to make school a positive and enriching experience. They have inspired me to impact others’ lives like they have impacted mine. 

Why did you choose Rowan?

I chose Rowan because many of my friends have graduated from Rowan and have only said good things, so I decided to apply. Rowan was the only school I had applied to, so it was all or nothing for me. Rowan also has a great education program and many graduates I know have become successful teachers. 

What are you most looking forward to at Rowan next year?

I am really excited to start my student teaching next year. I am looking forward to developing relationships with students and helping them in any way I can. This will be the first time that I am actually creating lesson plans and teaching students, so I am really excited to have the opportunity to learn from it! 

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Story by:
Samantha Shralow, junior elementary education and literacy studies major

Senior Reflects: Future Middle School Teacher Jessica Lynn Heady

Meet Jessica Lynn Heady, a first-generation college student and graduating senior who commuted from her home in Mantua, NJ (Gloucester County). Jessica, who majors in Subject Matter English Education and minors in Psychology, transferred from Rowan College at Gloucester County (now RCSJ). Here, Jessica shares her favorite moments from Rowan and thanks those who helped her as she pursued her teaching education path.

Headshot of Subject matter education major Jessica Heady

Tell us about your favorite classroom experience. 

One of my favorite experiences was in Dr. Viator’s Shakespeare class. The class was held in Winans Hall in a room with paper-thin walls, and the class next door was always loud. So one day he was not having it and decided to give them a taste of their own medicine. He shouted as loud as he could at the dividing wall to tell them to stop laughing. Ironically our class howled with laughter. Once we were all settled down Dr. Viator said, “You won’t remember anything from today’s lesson, but you’ll remember your crazy professor yelling at a wall.” And he was absolutely right.

What was your favorite moment at Rowan?

One of my favorite personal moments at Rowan is when I would hang out with my friends after class in the pit or on the third floor of the student center. We would always say we would get together to do homework, but we would really just sit there and people watch, laughing way too loud and way too hard.

What are your career aspirations? How did the people or programs at Rowan help to support you with those aspirations?

My career goal is to become a middle school English teacher to inspire students to learn. The professors and the staff members of The College of Education have supported me to do so. My professors have modeled excellent teaching strategies that I can use in my classroom and created learning environments that encourage and motivate me to do my best. The staff members of The College of Education have given me the guidance and support that I needed to succeed in my journey at Rowan University. Without them, I would not have the resources I need to have a successful future.

Do you want to give a thank you shout out to your family, friends, advisors or mentors?

I’d like to thank my mom, my dad, my sister, and my grandma. Thank you for all the love and support you have given me throughout my college career. Thank you for being there for me when I thought my best wasn’t good enough. Thank you for staying up late with me as I wrote my essay after essay. And thank you for always encouraging me. I love you.

Subject matter education major Jessica Heady and her family

I would like to thank my cooperating teacher and mentor, Christine Neri. Thank you for all your support and guidance during my student teaching journey. Thank you for having faith and confidence in me when I did not have it in myself. I have learned so much from you. And I appreciate all that you have done for me. You’re the best.

I would like to thank Dr. Timothy Viator. Thank you for creating classes that are both educational and meaningful. Thank you for all your teaching and life advice. But most importantly thank you for continued support even in your time of retirement. I am forever grateful for that.

I’d like to thank my friends. Thank you for the laughter and the tears we have shared. Thank you for our late-night study sessions that would always get us sidetracked. And thank you for not letting me be the only person who would jokingly say I was going to drop out at the smallest inconvenience. Without all of you, my college career would have been extremely boring.

Jessica Heady holding a bag that says Miss Heady on it

Lastly, I would like to thank my advisor, Nadia Rahin. Thank you for all the support you have provided me during my college career. Through all the ups and downs you were always there to help me keep my eye on my goals. And thank you for introducing me to classes that I would have never thought of taking. Because of you, my original goals have expanded from being an English teacher to being an English teacher who loves history, psychology, and women and gender Studies. Thank you for all that you have done for me.

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Senior Reflects: Literacy Studies Graduate Jodi Lynn Heady

Rowan University Child Demonstration Center.

MeetJodi posing with a rose. Jodi Lynn Heady, a graduating senior concentrating in literacy studies under subject-matter education with two minors in education and psychology. Jodi commuted to Rowan during her last semester from her home in Mantua, NJ (Gloucester County). She’s a first-generation college student who transferred here from Rowan College of Gloucester County.

Favorite Classes at Rowan: My favorite experiences at Rowan with my classes would have to be School Reading Problems and Supervised Clinical Practice in Reading. In those classes, I got to tutor children, seeing how much they grew from the beginning to end of tutoring was wonderful. They were the best classes to look forward to each week. 

Two sister and their parents pose for a family photo.Favorite Memory: My favorite moment at Rowan was working at Rowan University Early Childhood Demonstration Center. The children and staff there were all so sweet, and it was the best way to either start or end my school day! 

Career AspirationsJodi waving a rowan university flag: My career aspiration is to teach and shape young minds and get them ready for the years ahead of them. The College of Education supported me throughout my journey. They have provided wonderful classes with great professors. 

Shout outs! I would like to give a shout out to my family (my mom, my dad, my sister, and my grandma), my friends, the children I babysit and their families, Rowan University Early Childhood Demonstration Center, my advisor (April Ellerbe), and my favorite professors at Rowan (Dr. Lee, and Professor Atwood).

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Senior Prepares for Last Year of 4+1 Program, Gives Advice to Future Educators

Today we speak with Jacob Emig, a senior chemistry major pursuing a master’s degree in education as part of a five-year program at Rowan. Jacob transferred to Rowan from Rowan College at Burlington County and commutes to campus from his home in Marlton, NJ (Burlington County).

Chemistry major Jacob Emig sits at home in front of his open laptop.Why did you choose Rowan?

I went to Rowan College at Burlington County, and I knew a lot of my courses would automatically transfer over to Rowan, which made the financial aspect much better. I commute from home, which isn’t too far from Rowan, which makes it easier. My drive is usually around 30 to 40 minutes. I try to schedule my classes for two or three days a week, and stay on campus pretty much all day. This allows me to also work on the days when I don’t have classes.

What inspired you to choose chemistry and education?

I went into the chemistry major directly set on teaching — the end goal was to become a chemistry teacher the whole time. I studied autobody at a trade school, and I loved that, but I also had a love for chemistry and teaching in high school. Teaching came naturally to me, and I thought it could be a very rewarding career.

I am in the Combined Advanced Degree Program (CADP) with a BA in science for chemistry and a master’s in education, part of the five-year program. Over the past four years, I’ve been taking chemistry courses with some education classes mixed in, and next year I’ll be student teaching as part of the requirements for my master’s degree. I’ll be student teaching at a high school with students in the class probably ranging from freshmen to seniors.

Jacob Emig stands outside wearing goggles and a white lab coat.How do you think your Rowan education will benefit your student teaching experience?

What I learned at Rowan will definitely benefit me. You usually don’t get the chance to understand teaching until you’re actually in the classroom environment. A lot of my courses explain how students learn information and the most beneficial ways of teaching, and it’s all helpful information. I was talking to one of my old high school teachers, and she suggested definitely going for a master’s and gaining that student-teaching experience. It’s very helpful to have a teacher guiding you as you learn your way through navigating the classroom and its challenges.

Tell us about your favorite class in your major that might have had an impact on your studies. 

I had a lot of fun chemistry classes because I just find [chemistry] interesting. A lot of them go into in-depth studies, and my professors are great. My favorite is the one I am wrapping up this semester, STEM Teaching and Research Methods. I was disappointed it was transitioned to an online format because of Covid-19, because it’s a very discussion-based class. We talk about how students learn and the things to keep in mind while teaching. It’s given me a perspective that people wouldn’t normally think about while teaching, like the way you approach a lesson, and the ways you can answer a question. I got to see the opinions of not only my professor but also my classmates.

Have you had any mentors or faculty role models to guide you?

Professors can really influence your experience as a future educator. Professor Trevor Smith is always encouraging to us as students and seems to genuinely enjoy his job. He’s passionate about his subject matter, and being in his class and seeing the way he teaches and seeing how excited he was about teaching was inspiring.

Any advice for future educators?

When you get into the higher level STEM courses, they can become pretty difficult. If you’re in the field more for the teaching side, it can seem like more work than necessary to become a teacher. But if you’re passionate and genuinely care about helping students and making an impact in their lives, it’s definitely worth it in the end. You just have to put in the work to get you there.

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Pandemic Profs: Clinical Internship Teaching Spanish Remotely

Rosalba standing with her cooperating teacher.

Welcome to our series to give you a glimpse into Rowan University, our campus culture, and the lives of our students, while we’re practicing social distancing to protect society from the spread of COVID-19. Today’s story is from Maria Rosalba Trejo-Mendiola, a student in the master of science in teaching program. She is isolating from her home in Vineland, NJ (Cumberland County.)

Portrait of Rosalba in woods, standing against a tree.My name is Maria Rosalba Trejo-Mendiola. I was born in Querétaro, Mexico. I moved to the United States at the age of 11. At an early age, I discovered my biggest passion in life was helping others. I knew that I wanted to pursue a career that allowed me to work with people. Of all the possible careers that I could have pursued, I fell in love with the one profession that makes all other professions possible: teaching. I attended Cumberland County College, now known as  Rowan College of South Jersey, where I completed my associate degree in Liberal Arts. I then transferred to Rowan University where I completed my bachelor’s in Spanish. Then, I started working as a Career Placement Developer for Pathstone, a non-profit organization.

Currently, I am earning my master of science in teaching and completing a full-year clinical internship as a Spanish teacher at Vineland High School. My student teaching experience has been one of the most rewarding experiences. I have learned many strategies that I plan on incorporating in my own future Spanish classroom. From my professors, I have learned that to serve all students, it is very important to implement a Universal Design for Learning and that developing meaningful lesson plans goes a long way.

Yellow shoes customized with the word Ms. Trejo.
I love these custom shoes that will help me to kick off my teaching career!

My classes at Rowan University have allowed me to go into my field placement and put into practice what I have learned in class. This year, as part of World Language’s methods sequence: Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment I: World Languages and Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment II: World Languages,  I learned about High Leverage Teaching Practices (HLTP) for World Languages (Glisan & Donato, 2017). One of the biggest takeaways from these classes was learning about these practices and being able to incorporate it into my lessons. This also allowed me to learn about my own strengths and weaknesses. Rosabla in mid-jump, wearing a Rowan sweatshirt, in front of Bunce Hall.

From my classmates, I have learned that it is very important to be supportive of each other; to give each other feedback and to be willing to share ideas. From my Cooperating Teacher, Sra. DeJesús, I have learned that it is important to develop  positive relationships with the students. I have also learned different methods of teaching. One of my favorites methods of teaching is learning centers. Through Sra. DeJesus, I have become a strong believer that learning centers offer students the opportunity to be responsible for their own learning. If learning centers are well-designed, students will be able to walk away with valuable information. I am very thankful that my cooperating teacher has been very supportive throughout this learning experience. Sra. DeJesús allowed me to be involved in the classroom since day one of my field experience, allowing me to have as much practice as possible. I have developed strong bonds with the students, confirming for me that I have chosen the correct field to pursue a career in, teaching. From my field supervisor, I have learned about lesson planning. I have learned to reflect on what worked well and what can use improvement.

Rosalba stands with her cooperating teacher holding a book.
My cooperating teacher, Sra. DeJesús (left) and me.

I am very thankful to everyone that has helped me grow as a professional in one capacity or another. I also want to thank my family for always supporting my daughter and myself, throughout this learning process.

As far as my remote work, the transition has been really smooth. My cooperating teacher has been using Google classroom  for a long time now. We have been collaborating together to teach remotely. We have incorporated Zoom meetings and Google meets on  a weekly basis. Other technological applications that have been useful are Quizlet, Kahoot, and FlipGrid. Through this transition we have been maintaining communication with students and parents.

Rosalba stands in her graduation gown holding her daughter, with Bunce Hall in the background.
My daughter and I at my undergraduate graduation ceremony.

We understand that the transition is not easy for students, therefore we continue to be available to support our students. I am currently working part time from home with Pathstone, completing my field hours at Vineland High School via virtual communications, and spending quality and instructional time with my four year old, Suheily Carrasco.

Although it can be challenging at times, I love what I do. I learned that in this profession it is very important to love what you do and the rest comes with hard work and determination. In May 2020, I will complete my master’s of science of teaching. Although I never imagined that my last year of graduate school would be the one that forced us to practice social distancing to protect us from the spread of COVID-19, I want to remain focused and positive that it will end soon.

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Dr. Rosetta Treece, Ed.D. ’16, Spearheads Mental Health Initiative [VIDEO]

Rosetta shaking hands with another dog trainer.
https://youtu.be/EFuGFOkhxNI

Dr. Rosetta Treece, a 2016 graduate of Rowan’s doctorate of educational leadership (Ed.D.) program, serves as Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the Hopewell Valley School District in Pennington (Mercer County) in what she calls her “dream job.” 

Dr. Treece is in charge of K-12 curricula, school technology and programming such as equity and basic skills. 

However, her spearheading of the school district’s mental health initiatives is deeply personal, as she lost her son to suicide in early 2017. 

Dr. Treece and her superintendent crafted policies and professional development to support suicide prevention throughout the Hopewell Valley School District. 

She partnered with Attitudes in Reverse (AIR), an outreach program, to train therapy dogs — even her own — for the schools. “It’s amazing to see a student that’s completely shut down, not open to talking … and then the dog would come in, and they would just open up,” she says.

Dr. Treece says mental health is a challenging issue to take on with schools because there’s a stigma around it. She’s making it her mission to break the stigma. 

“I put myself out there. I let people know what I’ve been through so that I can start tearing down those walls of the stigma of what mental health looks like,” Dr. Treece says. “This is a lifetime commitment for me.”

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How One Professor Changed My Perspective on Math

Adriana and Professor Smith smile in front of the Mathematics suite.

Meet Adriana Simiriglio, a junior Elementary Education major specializing in Mathematics from Gloucester County. Today she shares how her mathematics professor changed her outlook on teaching and learning that ultimately made her a better problem-solver and soon-to-be teacher.

Adriana sits outside Education Hall.

I’m an education major. This means that I will relearn nearly 12 years of schooling, but this time from another perspective.

I was a little hesitant to take my math class my first year. I was good at math, but I was never the strongest at it, and I was afraid that college math would be at least 50 times harder than what I experienced during my regular school years.

It wasn’t.

I walked into the classroom to meet my bright-eyed professor, William Smith, who welcomed me with open arms and was already practicing everyone’s names. He placed us sitting in different groups, where I was able to meet three other education majors who were scared of math just like me.

He started out by handing us all a pencil because he knew a lot of us would ultimately forget. However, it was what he had inscribed on the pencil that got my mind reeling.

“Math is not a spectator sport.”

A close up photo of a pencil that reads "Math is not a spectator sport."
Adriana still holds onto the pencil that Professor Smith gave to the class.

Professor Smith began to explain what this math class really was. We had to relearn all of math, starting with regular addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, and then next semester, we’ll continue with fractions and probability. I was shocked. I had to relearn addition and subtraction? That was a kindergarten skill that I had already mastered many eons ago.

I thought I knew it all. I was wrong.

To help support us, Professor Smith made his own textbook and made it available in a PDF form. He explained he would never to assign too much homework because assigning book problems that don’t give us an answer and show us how to solve the problem are useless because we will never learn that way.

As soon as he was done explaining, he put addition problems on the board. Simple addition problems, but this started the epiphany of why math isn’t as scary as it looks.

The problems were easy, 2+2, 5+5, 20+10. When he asked us to explain our answer, we just simply said that “we knew it.” There was no explanation.

That’s the problem. We are never forced to explain. We are robots to the common knowledge, but we don’t know why or how we got the answers to the problems.

Now for the big guns, 367+83. Everyone was amused by what we thought was humor. So, we grabbed our papers, carried and borrowed with confidence, and all came up with the same answer. When we were asked why, it was just because “we were taught that way.” We had absolutely no knowledge of why we did math the way we did math.

Adriana and Professor Smith chatting at a table.

This is when he explained the pinnacle of what math truly is:

We are forced in our classes to memorize formulas, patterns, ways of solving problems the quickest. We are never taught to look at the problem, become problem solvers, and think of our own way to solve it. He asked how many of us were told by our teachers “not to use your way,” or “don’t use your parents way, just stick to this” even though we were getting the right answers. We were forced to copy the work of our teachers, and expected to get the right answers. All of us raised our hands. He told us he is going to guide us through this class, but he is not going to teach it, we are.

We are going to explain our thinking of answers to the class, share our own ways of solving the problem so others can try, and most importantly: scrap all formulas and shortcuts because they will never show you what math truly is. No more carrying and borrowing, no more solving from the right to the left. He taught us so many different ways to add, subtract, multiply, and divide so we could find what works best for us. Tests told us on every question to use the method that works best for us.

Throughout the semester, he had us volunteer to lead the class lessons, and as I started to feel comfortable and confident with my own work, I took strides and led the class multiple times, even within the first week of school. He told us that if we are going to be teachers, we have to get up in front of the class and explain something that is our biggest fear to our peers first. 

But why? Why did we feel confident? The answer is simple: We were allowed to let our brains work out and process problems in a way that we could figure out. We weren’t force-fed information that we had to mimic, but instead, we were given full range to expand our minds and understand what we were learning.

Adriana and Professor Smith hug.

So yes, math is not a spectator sport. It requires effort, thinking, and problem-solving skills. But when you open your mind to the different possibilities that math has to offer, it is only the beginning of what you can accomplish. Not only did this class change my perspective on math as a future teacher, but it made me feel confident instead of belittled when I couldn’t solve a problem, it made me feel empowered that I could solve the problems the way that I saw fit, and most importantly: this class taught me that math isn’t something to be afraid of. It is only yourself that can make you afraid, but when you have the right teacher, math can be as easy as 3.14.

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Story by:
Adriana Simiriglio, junior elementary education major

Ed.D. Program Paves the Path to Success for Educational Leader

Exterior shot of Sussex County Community College, where Rowan Ed.D. student Ketan Gandhi works

Ketan Gandhi, from Asbury Park (Monmouth County), is well-versed in higher education, so his standards were high when considering the universities he could potentially earn his Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree. After completing his undergraduate studies at Bombay University in India, and earning an MBA in general administration at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, he still wanted to learn more about the world of education.

Rowan Ed.D. student Ketan Gandhi meets with students as CFO of Sussex County Community College His experience in leadership positions at Burlington County College, Rutgers University and Sussex County Community College (where he is currently the CFO and EVP of Administrative Services) inspired him to explore the differences in leadership styles between private educational institutes and higher education.

“What motivates people in higher education is different than in a private business scenario,” Ketan says. “Understanding the type of leadership required to govern a higher institution could set me up for a more successful career in education.”

Rowan Ed.D. student Ketan sits at a desk with his laptop open, smiling.He came across the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership program at Rowan University through recommendations from colleagues who had had a positive experience in it.

“I also looked at a few other institutions, but what I liked about Rowan’s program is that it is led by faculty members with higher levels of experience and education. The faculty are actual presidents or provosts at universities, and can give me direct, relevant advice based on their experience.” 

The quality that secured Ketan’s decision to attend the Rowan Ed.D. program was its concentration in Community College Leadership Initiative (CCLI), which pertains directly to his professional experience and interests.

Though he has not been in school since 1986, Ketan was concerned about the transition back to intense learning. Luckily, “faculty members are open to allowing me to adjust, and I have support from my boss, my wife and my family,” he says.

“Each member of my cohort works at a different college or university, which allows us to share different experiences and perspectives,” he says. “It makes for better discussions and more learning opportunities.”

Leadership Theory, the first course he is taking for the program, has already ignited his passion for education and leadership. “This course has allowed me to truly understand the way I come across as a leader and who I want to be. I’ve already learned a lot about myself,” he reflects. A book that he has read during the course, “Discover Your True North” by Bill George, has also been an inspiration to him on this educational journey.

Rowan Ed.D. student Ketan Gandhi meets with students as CFO of Sussex County Community College

Ketan’s ultimate goal throughout Rowan’s Ed.D. program is to change and adapt to a new leadership style.

“I was very much a task-oriented leader,” he says. “In just a few weeks, I am already starting to see myself transforming into more of an entrepreneurial leader. It’s all about breaking habits that I’ve already established and improving them, really honing my skills.”

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Story by:
Nicole Cier, senior writing arts major

Photos courtesy of:
Ketan Gandhi and Sussex County Community College

#PROFspective: Graduate Education Student Donn Matthew Garby

Name: Donn Matthew GarbyDonn Garby stands outside of Hawthorne Hall.
Major: Ph.D. in Education
Concentrations: Higher Education
Year: Second year Ph.D. student
Hometown and County: Naples, FL 
Resident or commuter: Resident
Academic clubs: Founder and Council Member of Education Student Association (ESA), Graduate Student Government Association (GSGA)
Do you work on campus?: Yes, I am a Graduate Coordinator for the Interfaith and Spiritual Exploration Center & Adjunct for the College of Education

Tell us about your transition into the graduate program. My transition was not too bad. I came directly from my master’s program, so I was still in that “student mindset.” The largest transition was coming from a large R1 university, in a large city, to a smaller institution in a [more] rural town. Saying that, though, the benefits of Rowan, and the faculty interactions make it so that I feel home in the College of Education.

Why did you choose Rowan’s graduate program? I chose Rowan’s graduate program because it offered me the opportunity to connect with faculty on a one-on-one level, provided me resources to conduct my Rowan PhD student Donn Garby working at his cubicle in Hawthorne Hall.research, and allowed me the space to explore different career and research paths. In addition, with it being a new program, it allowed me to help make a difference and work to shape the program for the benefit of future students.

What is one thing you wish people knew about your academic discipline or research focus? One thing I wish people knew about my academic discipline is that we are people outside of our research. A lot of times, people, and students specifically, see us as a researcher or faculty member. But we have lives, we have hobbies, and although our research is a large aspect of who we are, that is not all that we are.

What is one thing this field has allowed you to do, that you either dreamed of doing or thought you’d never get to do? One thing this field has allowed me to do is turn my research into practice. It has been so rewarding to see that happen, and I am so grateful.

On your busiest day, what academic, non-academic and social responsibilities are you juggling? On my busiest day, I am juggling two classes, a meeting for my program and Senate meetings.

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

How One Rowan Professor’s Digital Office Hours Help the Online Learning Community

Dr. Anna Sun, assistant professor of Educational Services and Leadership, saw the problem in both her teaching and research: how can faculty meet with students outside of class when the course is online? 

Her solution — offering e-office hours for her classes — earned her accolades this fall at Rowan Global Learning & Partnerships’ inaugural Excellence in Online Learning awards

Dr. Sun says she felt a range of emotions upon being recognized for her work.

Dr. Anna Sun stands in front of the James Hall statue“I feel honored, surprised and happy. I’m glad I’m recognized by peers, by students, by Rowan at large and as a community. And I’m surprised because online teaching relatively speaking is still new. 

“I feel that more and more the community recognizes the importance of online teaching, sees it’s another way to meet the students’ needs, and it could provide the quality teaching and instruction in this pioneering format,” she adds. 

The College of Education professor’s research focuses on social justice and school administration leadership in K-12 settings. She also studies how counterparts in other countries approach similar issues, debates and questions in education. 

Dr. Sun joined Rowan six years ago, as her department collaborated with Rowan Global to launch an online teaching program to better meet students’ needs. The online courses are called light hybrid because there are two face-to-face times scheduled between faculty and students each semester. Dr. Sun saw how successful this model was and sought to incorporate an element of this in her office hours for online courses. 

“I wanted to create a online learning community,” she explains. “The challenge or the debate sometimes would be, there’s no face-to-face time. So that’s the time I thought we need to create with this e-office hours, like the face-to-face office hours.”

Dr. Sun designates the second Monday of the month to e-office hours, where students can make appointments and meet with her via phone, email, videoconference or other digital format to ask questions on or talk about the course. 

Dr. Anna Sun meets with a Rowan student inside James Hall

She says students have appreciated the courses with e-office hours.

“They feel I’m very approachable and I respond to students’ questions right away. They felt that this is exactly what they learned from face-to-face,” Dr. Sun says. “The research [also] shows that in the online setting we should have this instruction presence; I want the students to feel like they can reach me at any time when they have questions.”

Her e-office hours contribution is just one part of a more expansive goal of Dr. Sun’s to prepare future school leaders. 

“In my teaching, we have a lot of discussions about social justice school leadership, transformational leadership,” Dr. Sun says. “And I feel my teaching, my interactions with students provide cutting-edge, effective approaches for them to become the reformers, the leaders, to make big changes in education.

“Our program prepares candidates with social justice approaches to make a big impact in the field. Both my teaching and the research are so important in this regard.”

Dr. Anna Sun stands in front of a bronze statue outside of James Hall

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Higher Education Master’s Program Sounds Like Sweet Success For Rowan Music Alum Ben Wilner

Ben Wilner stands outside James Hall

Future college students will be fortunate to have Ben Wilner as their academic advisor. 

The Gloucester County native and aspiring academic counselor, who will complete his master’s degree in the College of Education’s Higher Education track this spring, didn’t initially set his sights on the program until his own interaction with an advisor. 

“He’s been nothing but a huge help during the undergraduate process,” Ben says. “I want to give back because of my experiences in the undergraduate setting.” 

Ben Wilner on the first floor of James HallBen graduated magna cum laude from Rowan’s highly competitive Music program after what he revealed was a difficult transition to college life as a student with disabilities. He’s now empowered to “inspire students with disabilities to stay in college, so they can break obstacles to get where they need to go in the college setting because I’ve broken every obstacle up until this point,” Ben explains. 

Ben says he wouldn’t be in college without a love of music, for which he’s a triple threat in voice, guitar and piano. He had just graduated from high school to pursue music at Rowan when the overwhelm set in. 

“I overcame it that first semester, and my entire undergraduate years I got help when I needed it and asked for assistance for the resources I need to obtain, like the Disability Resources office [also called the Academic Success Center] or academic coaching or my professors,” Ben says. “I always say to have connections with your professors. I feel like this transition showed me that it’s a lot different.”

After his first semester, Ben, working with the Academic Success Center, met regularly with his academic coach, who he says honed his writing, editing and organizational skills. 

He also registered with the Testing Center, which he says helped him with both test-taking and studying. The Testing Center was “welcoming and allowed me to do my tests and quizzes in a quieter space,” Ben adds. 

Ben Wilner standing on the third floor of James HallBen’s academic career flourished after that first semester. He joined the Delta Alpha Pi Honor Society and Sigma Alpha Lambda, a national leadership honor society. He presented at Rowan’s College Prep Transition Conference, which offers workshops and tools to support students with disabilities and their families as they head toward college life. 

His own advising experience, along with the guidance he received through the Academic Success Center, pivoted Ben’s career path from music to counseling. He’s applying his graduate coursework to an internship this year with the Academic Success Center, working with students who may be struggling as he once was — which speaks to why he’s so passionate about his future career: 

“I really was inspired by how much I have learned in the college setting, the resources I used to succeed in the college environment,” Ben says. He hopes to “help students advocate for themselves, making sure they do what they need to do to succeed. It’s not easy, but they’ve got to take one day at a time to break those obstacles. 

“I’d like to help those students to keep going and never give up. Every student, no matter their differences are.”

Wide shot of Ben Wilner on the first floor of James Hall

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Ed.D. Graduate, Community College President on His Game-Changing Rowan Experience

As public relations and marketing spokesperson for New York Transit, communicating news for the bus division that transported seven million passengers a day, Stephen Nacco saw his long-term career prospects heading on a different path — toward higher education. 

Nacco traded media for academia, where he rose to top administrative positions at two New Jersey-based community colleges. 

Rowan alumnus Dr. Stephen Nacco, president of Danville Area Community College in Illinois
Rowan alumnus Dr. Stephen Nacco (above)

His career moved further ahead while enrolled in Rowan’s Ed.D. in Educational Leadership: Community College Leadership Initiative (CCLI). “I never wanted to be a community college president until that program,” he said. 

Now, Dr. Stephen Nacco uses the skills he learned in his cohort from more than 750 miles away. 

As president of Danville Area Community College (DACC), about 2.5 hours south of Chicago, Dr. Nacco leads a school that serves more than 6,100 part-time and full-time students. While the city of Danville has seen its population steadily decline over the years, DACC has seen its enrollment and graduation rates increase — which Dr. Nacco credits to his faculty and board, with whom he has built a collaborative leadership team. 

Rowan alumnus Dr. Stephen Nacco (second from right) at Danville Area Community College, where he is president“It’s the coalescing of ideas here, and that to me is what makes working at this college rewarding,” Dr. Nacco said. “Every month we do something — this is straight out of something I learned at Rowan — where a different department comes out with a ‘Big Hairy Audacious Goal.’ And it’s got to be out there. It might seem impossible, but you’re going to try to figure out a way to make it work.

“I think collaboratively in a small community college, it’s really a lot of fun to be able to work this way,” he added. 

Convenient classes, offered right on the campus in which he worked at the time, initially attracted Dr. Nacco to the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership program. Yet the longer he immersed himself in his coursework, the more Stephen felt compelled to seek a community college president position post-grad. 

Rowan alumnus Dr. Stephen Nacco (right), president of Danville Area Community College in Illinois“I was able to study my own leadership and look at leadership theory,” he said. “As I was in the program more and more, I wanted to continue to move up in community colleges … that they’re not ‘junior colleges,’ what they do for workforce development and what they do for turning around lives.”

Dr. Nacco noted Rowan’s teaching faculty included community college presidents, who enhanced the program through their “war stories” and mentorship. He also acknowledged Dr. James Coaxum, associate professor in the College of Education, whom he said had “a style that was calm for people, not just with me, but for many students who were anxious to go back to college.” 

After completing the Ed.D. degree part-time in three years, Dr. Nacco ultimately secured the top spot at DACC in 2016. The importance of the job is not lost on him.

“Being in DACC, you can’t imagine how important this college is to this community,” he said. 

For future students considering the Ed.D. program, Dr. Nacco offers this advice: “Whatever your niche is, don’t be constrained by that niche. Go into it with the idea with you can be surprised with what you want to do. It doesn’t matter what your job is, if you know what you’re doing is important to the people around you, then it’s a good career. And Rowan can help you get there.”

Rowan alumnus Dr. Stephen Nacco's school, Danville Area Community College, offers a Wind Tech program
Rowan Ed.D. alumnus Dr. Stephen Nacco, president of Danville Area Community College in Illinois, is especially proud of his school’s Wind Tech program, one of few in the country that trains students to maintain wind turbines and prepares graduates for work in the emerging wind energy industry.

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Hybrid Doctoral Studies Program Offers Flexibility for Aspiring Educational Administrator

Exterior shot of James Hall, home of the College of Education

First-generation college student Manuela Jiménez has always had plenty of ambition and little free time. After receiving her undergraduate degree from Rutgers University, the Perth Amboy, NJ (Middlesex County) teacher knew that she wanted to continue her education. She earned her master’s in Educational Leadership from Montclair State University while teaching secondary students, and attained her school principal and supervisor credentials. Jimenez believes that learning is a lifelong process, and in an effort to reflect on her practice as an educator, she decided to continue her studies. 

A simple Google search led Manuela to discover the Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (Ed.D.) program at Rowan, and she dove right in. “I came across this top-rated hybrid doctoral program and was thrilled to hear about it!” she says. “Being a full-time working individual, it’s so convenient to be in a program that gives me the flexibility I need to have face-to-face classes and online classes that allow me to also work.” 

Rowan Ed.D. student Manuela sits at a desk with the name "Ms. Jimenez" in colorful letters pasted to the front of the desk.
Manuela — or Ms. Jimenez, as her students call her — sits at her desk, ready for another successful day!

Flexibility was a requirement when it came to Manuela’s decision to enroll in a doctorate program. She currently teaches English to seventh graders at a local school, and is the Chair for the elective department — two time-consuming positions that require a lot of work and dedication. She met with a Rowan University advisor in order to determine the perfect schedule that would integrate with her work preferences. The face-to-face class meetings are convenient to her schedule, and she prefers to complete the online portion of her learning during her breaks from teaching. “Having access to all of my learning materials and professor office hours online is very helpful to me because of my schedule,” she says.

Though this schedule may sound overwhelming, Manuela loves every moment of it. “It’s a very rigorous program, but it makes me want to learn more! The more that I read, the more inquisitive I become about my current methods as a practitioner. My professors provide thorough feedback for every assignment, and prepare me to feel more competent and confident in the workplace,” she says.

The most rewarding part of the program is that the content Manuela learns through her courses can be applied to her teaching the very same day! Since she completes her online work throughout the school day, the lessons she learns are fresh in her mind, allowing her to apply the theories from her readings to her classroom to see real results. And since she’s started the Ed.D. program, she is already noticing a difference in the quality of her interactions with students and faculty.

“It’s not all about the concept but the implementation of it in the teaching environment,” she says. “I am becoming a more reflective practitioner, learning the difference between theory and practice by applying the curriculum of these courses to my real-life interactions.”

Drone shot overlooking Rowan's Glassboro campus at sunset
“It’s so convenient to be in a program that gives me the flexibility I need to have face-to-face classes and online classes that allow me to also work,” Manuela says of Rowan’s Ed.D. program.

“I’ve definitely made the right choice with Rowan,” Manuela says. “The program is hard but it’s worth it, because the quality of the education I’m receiving is truly impactful. It’s inspiring that first-generation college students like myself can make it in their career, and pursue a higher education degree while juggling everything else in life.”

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Story by:
Nicole Cier, senior writing arts major

TRANSFERmation Tuesday: Elementary Education & English Major Chelsea Chaet

Chelsea Chaet, Elementary Education and English double major and Theatre minor, photographed outside Wilson Hall

Today we speak with Chelsea Chaet, a sophomore Elementary Education and English double major with a minor in Theatre. She recently transferred from James Madison University.Chelsea Chaet, Elementary Education, English, Theatre, Outside, Wilson

Name: Chelsea Chaet
Year: Sophomore (Class of ‘22)
Major: Elementary Education and English
Hometown(s): Voorhees, New Jersey / Virginia Beach, Virginia / Solon, Ohio
Transfer Student? Yes
Where do you live? On-campus, Rowan Boulevard Apartments

How did you end up here at Rowan?
“When I was in high school in Voorhees, NJ, I could not wait to go to school out-of-state and get out of here. I never in a million years thought that I would be going here because I always pictured myself going somewhere out-of-state. Then I found out the summer before my senior year that I had to move to Virginia, which was a crazy transition. That was probably the hardest change I’ve had to go through so far, just moving states from somewhere that I lived my whole life. 

Chelsea Chaet, Elementary Education, English, Theatre, Outside, WilsonI went to James Madison University mostly because my family was in Virginia, and I thought it would be my new home. I didn’t think that we were moving again. But my family moved again to Ohio this past May. So I visited my friends here in South Jersey this past summer, and I got the idea to transfer back to school in New Jersey. 

I knew that JMU just wasn’t the right fit for me because Virginia really wasn’t my home. For months I felt lost at JMU, like a fish out of water. And being back here, I just felt this overwhelming sense that I was supposed to be back here. I prayed a lot for guidance. Then I applied to Rowan, not really thinking that I would end up going here. It was just kind of on a limb, but I got in and I just felt so excited. 

Chelsea Chaet, Elementary Education, English, Theatre, Outside, WilsonBeing back here, I just felt really compelled to go here, and that being back in South Jersey was what I was meant to do. But I felt that I really needed to grow and experience new things, which I did when I moved. So I feel like I was supposed to come back here as a changed, grown person. It felt so right, and honestly, I wasn’t afraid of things that I didn’t understand anymore. I always knew my home was here.”

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Story and Photography by:
Faith Lynn Diccion, sophomore theatre & RTF double major

Faculty PROFile: College of Education’s Angela Beale-Tawfeeq

Meet Dr. Angela Beale-Tawfeeq, Associate Professor of Health and Physical Education Teacher Education within the College of Education.

What is your area of expertise? My area of expertise is program Dr. Angela Beale-Tawfeeq sitting at her desk.development and evaluation for minority communities, drowning prevention and aquatic safety among African American and Hispanic/Latino populations, youth development and culturally responsive teaching.

I currently serve as a member of the American Red Cross, Scientific Advisory Council, Aquatic Sub Council, and the director of education and research for Diversity in Aquatics, a nonprofit 501(c)(4) organization whose mission is to save lives and reduce the incidence of drowning through global efforts.

Share an “aha!” moment you’ve had within your discipline that made you feel passionate about your field? When I came to realize that I could transform the perception of the field of health and physical education by showing how physical education can have a positive effect on public health. The perception of physical education and health education often times has been limited to stereotypical images of the “coach” with a whistle using their “outside voice” to encourage students to participate in physical education classes, hence physical activity. When I came to understand that I could become a “change agent” in my community, combining my love of family, culturally relevant pedagogy, social justice, to encourage youth through physical education/health and wellness, I strive to teach my students to view themselves as agents of change who will teach in classrooms with more than walls and balls.

Dr. Angela Beale-Tawfeeq sitting in James Hall.Share with us one aspect of student engagement that you enjoy most, and why? The opportunity to empower communities and students to empower themselves with relevant and inspiring educational experiences that will enable them to take control of their lives, shape their career goals, imagine future endeavors and become active participants in their scholastic journey.

Describe an experience you’ve had with a student that made you feel excited about educating the next generation in your field? One of the most challenging aspects of academia is finding out how you will be able to add to the body of literature in one’s professional field in the areas of research, service and teaching. At times, I have struggled with finding my voice among the structured parameters of research which defines worth by one’s ability to “conduct a systematic investigation of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions.”  It is my belief that as an educator one must have or be willing to gain a true knowledge of the students and their world to present content that can evoke an intrinsic response.

From 2008 – 2013, I developed Project Guard: Make A Splash E.N.D.N.Y, an aquatic and water safety initiative developed for schools and community organizations to foster respect, responsibility and relevance. Project Guard: Make A Splash E.N.D.N.Y was a collaborative venture among the (ARC) American Red Cross of Long Island, USA Olympic Swimming: Make A Splash Initiative, Adelphi University, the Teaching for Personal and Social Responsibility (TPSR) Alliance and a neighboring local school district. It was this collaborative opportunity with students, at both the university and K-12 levels, that I believe that whether we are teaching in the local public schools or in an institution of higher education that we are supposed to provide students with relevant curriculum that will be meaningful and not dehumanizing to them. I believe we should design programs and opportunities because we believe that if we do not lead by example, we cannot expect our students to follow and model what they have learned and been taught.

I believe we teach because we believe that students are supposed to be researchers, problem solvers, critical thinkers, learners and much more. I believe we teach because we believe that students should be able to believe that goals in life are always achievable as long as they do not give in. I believe we teach because we believe that Dr. Angela Beale-Tawfeeq typing at her desk.providing relevant physical education and physical activity may require collaborations beyond school. We do it because we know that students must be “global citizens” and culturally aware and be prepared to use strategies that will sustain them whether in the classroom and in life, for “a new world order is in the making, and it is up to us to prepare ourselves that we may take our rightful place in it” (el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz, Malcolm X, 1963).

What is one thing you wish people knew about your academic discipline or your research focus? One of the things that I wish people knew about the field? It is more than a field of play. One purpose of health education physical education methods courses is to help preservice teachers develop an understanding of, and acquire, the pedagogical skills needed to facilitate learning through movement. As a professional, I strive to engage stakeholders in the K-12 experience. I believe that through the creation of innovative programs, embedded in the richness of the culture, curricula, and communities, that we are all a part of, we will begin to create the next generation of effective teachers who are truly reflective of the students and communities they serve.

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

Alumni Success: William Moylan, Special Education Teacher

Unified Sports members posing for a photo

William Moylan graduated with his bachelor’s degree in Subject Matter Education/Math (2013) and master’s in Special Education (2015). From Park Ridge, NJ (Bergen County), William chose Rowan because he liked the small school feel and the respected education program. The distance was also perfect for him — Rowan was close enough for it to be “close to home” but also far enough away so he could “get away.”

William Moylan (top row, second from left) credits his on-campus experience with Unified Sports with his own work as a special education teacher.
William Moylan (top row, second from left) credits his on-campus experience in Unified Sports with inspiring his career as a special education teacher.

Bill worked in the Recreation Center when he attended Rowan. He says that many of the essential skills that helped him then and later in life were provided by the Rec Center, such as resume building, social skills and figuring out where he wanted to take his career. 

Bill also worked with Unified Sports, a program where Special Olympics athletes and Rowan students come together to play competitive games; it also offered students volunteer coaching opportunities. This experience led Bill down the career path he’s in now in special education. It helped him realize how important working in a positive atmosphere is, and he wanted to instill that feeling to more students.

Bill recalled his idea to have he and the other coaches start wearing suits to their games. Along with suits, they’d wear different outfits for certain events, like pink for breast cancer awareness and Hawaiian shirts for the Hawaiian Invitational event. This tradition, along with others started by Bill and his friends, carries on to this day. 

Bill said the most exciting thing he’s currently doing is working with the Special Olympics and Unified Sports, “being able to make an impact on individuals with intellectual disabilities and how that environment around Unified and the atmosphere can trickle into every day life and society,” he explained. 

The most fulfilling part of his career now is working with the intellectually disabled, being able use his youth right now to show that he’s been in their shoes and that their struggles are OK. He shows them a perspective from an inclusive atmosphere to help them be able to grow.

Rowan alumnus William Moylan speaks at a Unified Sports event
Moylan speaks at a Unified Sports event.

Bill teaches math at Whippany Park High School, where he says he always talks to his students about the positive environment you can find in college and in general how valuable the experience of college can be.

This is Bill’s fifth year teaching, and the first year that he’s seeing students he’s been with throughout their high school experience graduate and move on to college. He says 12-15 of his students are coming to Rowan for the class of 2023.

When asked if he had any advice for students interested in his career path, Bill believes the biggest thing that made his application stand out from others was his involvement with the Rec Center, Unified Sports and the Special Olympics. Bill urges any student to start joining clubs and getting these valuable experiences as soon as they can. He mentioned that he started working with Unified Sports during his junior year and wishes he had started even sooner.

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Story by:
Dean Powers, sophomore radio/TV/film major

Photos courtesy of:
William Moylan

Danielle’s Journey from the Ed.D. Program to Overseer of $20 Million

Woman sitting in pink lawn chair laughing while the sun shines down

Meet Dr. Danielle B. Jubanyik, a Rowan alumna and Sicklerville, NJ (Camden County) native with her Ed.D. in educational leadership. Danielle is currently working at the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development as the State Director for Adult Education & Literacy Services. She is responsible for $20 million worth of funds that are used to help New Jersey adults attain a stronger education and hopefully lead to a brighter future. Learn how Rowan’s Ed.D. program helped prepare her for making a powerful impact in the New Jersey community.Professional business woman smiling at the camera

Danielle started her Rowan University journey 20 years ago, finishing her undergrad with a B.A. in English with a secondary education certification in 2003. Five years later, she earned her M.Ed. in teacher leadership with a writing arts concentration, and then completed her Ed.D. in 2013.

“Education has always been a passion of mine,” said Danielle. “One of my fondest memories is playing school as a child over summer breaks.” Danielle’s passion for education was easily matched at Rowan — a fact she knew early on as her mom attended the school when it was known as Glassboro State College. It became a “no-brainer” for her to attend, pairing the school’s positive reputation with its affordability.

“The rigor for this doctorate was intense, the amount of research requirements helped me to become a stronger writer and speaker, and the cohort portion allowed me to grow from others with different perspectives,” Danielle revealed. The cohort allows students to build off one another in the program, providing an experience with diversity and multiple facets for students to grow from.

At the beginning of the program you conduct research into a topic of your choosing associated with education, leading you to write the research portion (Chapter 1) of what will become a dissertation. Once this portion is completed, it must be presented to a dissertation chair (chosen by the student) for review and approval. “Presenting to the dissertation chair allows them to judge whether you can read, write, research, synthesize information and demonstrate your dedication,” Danielle explained.

Following this initial check-point you continue with the required coursework, with each class acting as a different puzzle piece for the dissertation. “You may begin to meet folks in-person and may be doing surveys or phone interviews,” said Danielle, referring to the bulk of the program. “In another class you’ll learn about social justice — potentially writing a chapter about why it’s important to learn about the perceptions and professional development people are receiving to produce a well-versed teacher.”

Once you’re finished writing the dissertation, you present a Rowan-formatted package to a dissertation committee (a group of individuals selected by the student to review and critique the work). After passing their approval, you schedule the dissertation symposium. This openWoman leaning against a wall while the sun shines through a window behind her event allows the student to present all findings while arguing their research to a committee that will judge whether you’re ready to receive the title of doctor.

The experiences Danielle had throughout her time in the Ed.D. program prepared her for her current role as the State Director for Adult Education & Literacy Services. As a representative for the state of New Jersey in Washington, D.C. she needs to hold strong communication skills that allow her to defend her views and argue for her opinions. “All of these pieces of the Ed.D. program: multitudes of research, the rigor, the accountability, speaking components all factor into my job,” said Danielle. Rowan’s Ed.D. program provides students all of these opportunities for an impactful career that can help change lives for the better.

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Story and photography by:
Alexander Belli, new graduate with a B.A. in public relations and advertising

The Ed.D. Program Showed Christina Just How Strong She Truly Is

Family of four strolling down a side walk on the main street of a town

Meet Christina DiDonato Dillon, mother of two (Luke, one year old and Filomena, 10 months old) and wife to Drew. Christina earned her undergraduate degree in early childhood education and sociology from Rowan University in 2011, graduated in 2016 with her M.A. in school administration, and is currently working toward earning her Ed.D. in educational leadership. Christina lives in Hammonton, NJ (Atlantic County) with her beautiful family while working as a real estate agent and assisting her parents with the family business, KMD Constructions. This is truly one woman who can do it all!

A woman in a pink top and white pants with her hand on her hip posing on a busy town street sidewalkChristina, a lifelong Prof, found her love for teaching at an early age and knew Rowan University would be the school to help her achieve this dream. “I knew Rowan was the choice for me,” said Christina. “I was most impressed with the devotion its faculty and staff have towards education and truly teaching it like a calling.” During her time within the College of Education, Christina has had the opportunity to learn from inspiring professors. Creating connections that helped her find her first teaching position in the Deptford Township School District. Christina has had seven years within the public schooling system teaching pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, and second grade.

Now, working toward her Ed.D in educational leadership, Christina looks back and reflects on the accomplishments she’s already achieved and the dedication she’s put into the program. When entering the Ed.D program you can expect to conduct heavy research into a topic you choose and must get approval for by faculty within the program. You will grow your understanding of qualitative and quantitative data, build more on courses from previous graduate and undergraduate programs, and eventually A family of four with a son and daughter sitting at a coffee shop table happily talking to each othercomplete a dissertation. “The coursework is incredibly reflective,” Christina explained, referring to the educational leadership program. “It’s something that helps you to better understand ‘who am I,’ allowing you to apply the concepts in real-world situations.”

Through this program, Christina learned about the strength she’s always had within her and discovered what she was capable of accomplishing. “The program is so motivating and also difficult, but it brings you to a point of ‘what kind of person am I as a leader, as a teacher, and as a person in a family?” Christina revealed, referring to juggling all her responsibilities. The program, though challenging, benefits its students in ways one might not expect. As Christina has shown, you may learn more about yourself through A woman wearing a pink shirt holding a baby girl in front of a decorative chalkboardworking towards an Ed.D while still gaining that higher education.

“Leadership influences change toward a shared vision through empowerment and built relationships. The concept that leadership is an influential process is the thought and definition I endorse. When thought of as an influential process, we can combine the ideas that leadership is complete as a trait, ability, skill, behavior and relationship.” An excerpt from Christina’s dissertation, which is titled Organizational Culture, Partnerships, and Placemaking — Social Emotional Learning via the Perspectives of School Leaders and Parents in an Early Childhood Setting: An Ethnographic Case Study.

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Story and photography by:
Alexander Belli, new graduate with a B.A. in public relations and advertising

TRANSFERmation Tuesday: Christian Pineda

Christian facing front towards the camera

Today we speak with Christian Pineda, a junior English and education dual major. He transferred to Rowan University last fall semester after two semesters at Rowan College at Gloucester County.

Name: Christian Pineda
Year: Senior
Major: English & Education
Hometown: Franklinville, NJ (Gloucester County)
Transfer student? Yes
Where do you live? Off-campus

“What gets me out of bed in the morning is my writing,” said Christian. He is currently in the process of writing a book, having always had a passion for creative writing he is finally able to make his own creation.

“I would tell someone interested in English or education that either field is full of opportunity but they are also fields that you have to love what you do!’ 

“Something that inspired me and made me know that I was in the right field was after I started class for my programs specifically. A common response from many students, most say after their second year at college they really started enjoying learning about their future field,” Christian shared.

Christian looking at his laptop

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Story and Photography by:
Justin Borelli, senior advertising major

Sean’s Home Away From Home: Kappa Delta Pi

https://youtu.be/vPJuqkXv1Uc

Sean Lowry, a senior elementary education major with a dual major in geography from Caldwell, NJ (Essex County), feels most at home within the education honor society at Rowan, Kappa Delta Pi. A transfer student from the County College of Morris, this year Sean is president of Kappa Delta Pi and lives on campus in 220 Rowan Boulevard Apartments.

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Video by: Alexander Belli, senior public relations and advertising major
Edited by: Nicole Cier, junior writing arts major
Music by: Don Dewitt, junior music industry major

Marcus’s Home Away From Home: Education Praxis Lab [VIDEO]

Marcus standing inside James Hall near the Praxis Lab in jacket and bookbag on
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2dgm7EyvMOw&feature=youtu.be

Marcus King feels most at home around his friends and classmates in the Rowan Praxis Lab in James Hall. Get a sneak peak into the area that’s important to this junior health and physical education major from Willingboro, NJ (Burlington County.)

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Video by: Vanessa Vause, senior public relations and theatre double major
Music by: Dan Ledden, senior public relations major

#PROFspective: Ph.D. in Education Candidate Sanaz Shahi

close up of business woman with brick building in the background

Today, we speak with Sanaz Shahi, a Ph.D. candidate in Education from Iran-Tehran, who lives off campus. Sanaz will share her #PROFspective with us on what it’s like to be a Rowan University international student and how she got the most out of her college experience as a Rowan Prof. Year: Ph.D Candidate. (expected year of graduation: […]

Rebecca Schnier Discusses Student Teaching

Rebecca Shnier stands outside of James Hall at Rowan University, in front of a bronze artwork that says Knowledge is Power

Meet Rebecca Schnier, a senior Education and Liberal Studies dual major from North Brunswick, NJ (Middlesex County). She has a Teachers of Students with Disabilities endorsement and student teaches at John H. Winslow Elementary School in Vineland, NJ.  Today we chat with her about the opportunities she has had to engage in her majors at Rowan University, […]

#PROFspective: Art and Secondary Education Dual Major Molly Moore

Today, we speak with Molly Moore, a junior art and secondary education major from Robbinsville, NJ (Mercer County), who rents a house off campus. Molly will share her #PROFspective with us on what it’s like to be a Rowan University student and how she’s getting the most out of her college experience as a Rowan […]

#PROFspective: History Education Major Amiel Holliday

Today, we speak with Amiel Holliday, a senior history education major from Burlington, NJ (Burlington County) who lives on campus in Edgewood Park Apartments. Amiel will share his #PROFspective with us on what it’s like to be a Rowan University student and how he’s getting the most out of his college experience as a Rowan Prof. Name: […]

#PROFspective: Mathematics and Education Major Lawrance Stephenson

Student outside Wilson Hall on bridge

Today, we speak with Lawrance Stephenson-Mosley, a freshmen Mathematics and Education major from Bridgeton, NJ, who lives on campus in Holly Pointe Commons. Lawrance will share his #PROFspective with us on what it’s like to be a Rowan University student and how he got the most out of his college experience as a Rowan Prof. […]

Students Unify Rowan through Unified Sports

Kaitlee and Joseph sit on a bench together

 Co-presidents of Unified Sports, seniors Kaitlee Francisco, an elementary education and mathematics major from Washington Township (Gloucester County) and Joseph Egan, a mechanical engineering major from Fairfield (Essex County) contribute to the Rowan and South Jersey communities in ways that go far beyond the classroom.  On Nov. 3, Kaitlee and Joseph were elated to see […]

Compare/Contrast Freshman Housing

Scott Timko is a resident assistant in Mullica Hall, wearing a yellow sweatshirt that says Glassboro State

Chatting with Rowan University on campus residents on a frigid, hectic morning just before finals (seriously, is it really spring yet?!), one thing was clear: the sense of community within their residence halls is what they love most. However, what “community” means in each residence hall is different. I learned that Evergreen is known for […]

Accepted Students Preview the College of Education

Naveen stands arms outstretched in front of stained glass at James Hall

The College of Education at Rowan University recently held an Accepted Students Banquet for incoming freshmen looking to pursue a major in education. A busy schedule of events invited prospective students to explore all that Rowan has to offer and learn more about what being a Prof is all about. Ambassadors were eager to speak […]