Bangladeshi Graduate Student Finds Opportunity & Community at Rowan University Pursuing a Master’s in Computer Science

A portait of Tilpa outdoors.

This story is one within a multi-part series highlighting the aspirations, hopes and dreams of a few of Rowan University’s international students. Read the other stories.  What is your long-term professional goal or dream career? “I see myself as a cloud engineer; it’s my dream career.” Are you involved in internships, clubs, networking, etc. here […]

How Physics Took Nicholas Kurth to Switzerland To Work With CERN

Nicholas stands outside the science building wearing a lab coat.

A Dive Into the Physics Major at Rowan University With a Graduating Senior Tell us more about your CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) experience. “I knew about this opportunity at CERN for over a year before I applied because when I was applying to LSU to go do research work for them, I saw […]

One Rowan University Indian Graduate Student Reflects on His Journey at Rowan University, Computer Science Education and International Community

Somyaranjan Rout sits behind business hall.

This story is one within a multi-part series highlighting the aspirations, hopes and dreams of a few of Rowan University’s international students. Read the other stories.  What is your long-term professional goal or dream career? “My long-term professional goal is to become an expert in cloud architecture and full stack development. I aspire to architect […]

One Rowan University Pharmaceutical Science Graduate Student’s Professional Goals & Career Aspirations

Pintu stands outside an academic building.

This story is one within a multi-part series highlighting the aspirations, hopes and dreams of a few of Rowan University’s international students. Read the other stories.  What Rowan professors or Rowan classes have been most helpful and enlightening to you, and how? “To begin with, the majority of the professors at Rowan University exhibit a […]

Empowering Dreams: Meet Sreypich Heng, A Rowan University International Computer Science Senior Pursuing a Career in UX/UI Design

A close up of Sreypich with Bunce behind her.

This story is the first in a multi-part series highlighting the aspirations, hopes and dreams of a few of Rowan University’s international students. Read the other stories.  What is your long-term professional goal or dream career? “My long-term professional goal, or dream career, is to become a skilled UX/UI designer. I wouldn’t have thought that […]

Biological Sciences Major On Academic Opportunities, Campus Life

Nathaneal studies his experiment with a serious face.

Nathanael Alicea is a senior commuting transfer student (from Rowan College of South Jersey) here at Rowan University originally from Lindenwold, New Jersey (Camden County) pursuing a BS in biological sciences; with minors in Pre-Health and Chemistry. When asked what inspired him to choose his major Nathanael shared, “I would like to get to medical […]

Biological Sciences Major Shares a Snapshot in Time of Her Days at Rowan

Yesenia sits at a lab table for a portrait.

Originally from Trenton, NJ (Mercer County) first-generation senior biological sciences major Yesenia Flores heads into her final semesters at Rowan, and there’s so much more to come for her. About her major Yesenia shared, “I have always been very curious about the dynamics and mechanisms by which science is able to revolutionize the world and […]

Finishing His College Career Strong With a Summer BioChem Class

Jonathan stands outside his workplace with the Inspira logo behind him.

Today, we meet Jonathan Philip, a senior biological sciences major from Williamstown, NJ (Gloucester County), here to talk about his experience with taking summer classes at Rowan and how it’s been beneficial to him.   Jonathan enrolled in Intro to Biochemistry this summer at Rowan. As it relates to his experiences in the class, Jonathan […]

Accelerating Graduation and Building Stronger Connections Through Rowan’s Summer Classes

Richard Ricks touches a tree.

Today, we meet Richard Ricks, a senior biological sciences major on a pre-vet track, from Burlington, NJ (Burlington County), here to talk about his experience with taking summer classes at Rowan and how it’s been beneficial to him.   This summer Richard completed Organic Chemistry, Physics II, (both online) and Plant Diversity (in person) summer […]

Veterinary Innovation Gives Fortunato the Goat a New Lease on Life [VIDEO]

Fortunato on a work table getting measurements done with a student and vet tech with a Studio 231 sign in the background.

An interdisciplinary, collaborative space, Studio 231 within the School of Innovation & Entrepreneurship helps to bring the best ideas to life – including, this time, giving a new lease on life to a baby goat who was unable to walk.

The story of Fortunato the goat highlights the ingenuity – not to mention the impact – of leveraging this student-led and student-run experiential learning lab and makerspace within the Rowan community. A hub for collaboration, ideation, rapid prototyping and research, the newly created Schreiber School of Veterinary Medicine partnered with Studio 231 to create working legs for this Nigerian Dwarf goat with septic arthritis in his hind feet, which caused him to lose the feet. 

Dr. Matthew Edson, founding dean of the veterinary school, had previously toured Studio 231 and knew that this resource would be valuable for their work, opening up the possibility of printing 3D models for the vet school.

Fortunato’s owners were told he should be euthanized. Dr. Edson had a different recommendation. 

With an email entitled “Goat Legs” Dr. Edson reached out to the Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering, asking to partner with Studio 231 to create new working legs for Fortunato. That email found its way to Addison Deckert, a sophomore mechanical engineer major from Gannett Park, MD, and Vincent Gallo, a junior mechanical engineering major from Cinnaminson, NJ, who then worked on the project. 

Fortunato getting measurements with vet tech and Addison done.

Even with a team put together and the drive to create a perfect model, a series of obstacles remained in the way. How would they build legs that would expand as Fortunato grew? How could Addison and Vincent, who rarely worked the same shifts, best collaborate? Which approach, which idea, was the right one to pursue?

The emotional attachment to Fortunato, the intensity of working toward saving a life, and working with a deadline certainly brought out the best in all involved. Several questions needed to be answered for success to be achieved. Vincent shed some light on some of them, “What should we keep in mind? What part of the leg should we try and stay away from? So that’s not like a big pressure point when the goat is walking; how much support does it really need?”

The shape of Fortunato’s body created an interesting challenge that needed to be addressed. Addison revealed, “One of the hardest things we had with designing was figuring out how to keep the boot on because sometimes just like a friction fit and wrapping it real tight isn’t the best solution. And he actually has a tendon running along the upper part of his leg, so we couldn’t attach anything to it. So we went through a lot of different designs.”

Another element of the challenge the project posed was what materials could and could not be used, as they had to be animal friendly. After looking at several different options that combine plastic and 3D printing materials, they opted for TPU, a material that would hold up in the sun, in water, and still remain comfortable for Fortunato. 

After switching the material for the laces to a thinner material, Fortunato was ready to test out the design. Because his leg hindered him from going outside, he was hesitant to touch the world outside, but on a beautiful day, dreams came true. Fortunato came to life running around and hopping on his new prosthetic – the design worked.

The joy for the team was moving, even though Vincent missed the moment due to having to take a test; Addison had this to say about the moment, “Actually being able to see a prototype that I made on Fortunato and working and actually giving him something he didn’t have before is indescribable.” The collaboration not only saved a life but opened the door on saving more down the line. Both students and the rest of the team were showered with praise from the new dean, “We couldn’t be happier with the whole team that worked on this. We came in the first day to a back of a goat’s leg drawn on the board. They had researched the anatomy. They had already come up with a couple of different models that they planned to use. They were really well prepared, but I think they were also able to be creative and entrepreneurial in their approach and adjust to the challenges and come up with a really nice finished project.”

Addison taking notes.

In terms of what comes next, different answers were given. The success of creating a prosthetic certainly opens up opportunities for students to work with the new school, Dean Edson says, “This is the sort of project that we want to do. We want to think outside of the box, involve other departments, other agencies, and all come together to solve problems like this for the betterment of both animal health and human health. And again, this was a perfect example of how we want to do that.”

This project certainly captured the mind of Addison and what she thought was possible, even expressing an interest in working ducks for similar projects in the future. Accomplishing the ability to help aid an animal to walk extends the reality of what is deemed achievable and with students such as Vincent and Addison leading the way in innovation, no project is too big to dream about at Rowan. 

None of this would have been possible without not only Dean Edson, Vincent and Addison but several professors, faculty, and others who helped guide the project along. Working as a team to achieve a goal for something greater than an individual’s ambition helps kindle the wonder in students. This is summed up through Addison, ““It was really amazing and it makes me really want to do engineering because sometimes you doubt it after doing 15 hours of homework and three all-nighters and failing a test and all those types of things, it really makes you doubt. But do I want to actually design something new and build something that actually helps people? Yes. I think Rowan’s really trying to push that mindset.”

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Story by:

Thomas Ubelhoer, sophomore political science and international studies double major 

#PROFspective: How Devon Coulter Overcomes Adversity Living with an Invisible Disability

Devon Coulter posing by the trees near Bunce Hall

Would you mind sharing your experience with your disability? “I have a rare invisible disability called Idiopathic Hypersomnia. The best way I can describe it to someone is that it’s a sister to Narcolepsy. It is an unknown origin, so they don’t know what causes it, and I tend to sleep for really long periods […]

#PROFspective: A Closer Look At PULLA Tracker and its Founder Siena Rampulla

Rowan University Psychology major Siena stands underneath the art installation Time Sweeps by Discovery Hall.

Siena Rampulla is a senior student here at Rowan University, originally from Holmdel, NJ (Monmouth County). Siena is a Psychology major, with an honors concentration and a minor in Journalism.  When asked to share more about her major, Siena explained she originally planned to go on the pre-med track, which was a long-term dream of […]

Rowan University Biological Sciences Major Mia Shute Shares Her Aspirations for the Future

Rowan University Biological Sciences major Mia Shute writes on a whiteboard in the lab.

Today we feature sophomore commuter-student Mia Shute from Mullica Hill, NJ (Gloucester County). Mia is working towards her bachelor of science degree in Biological Sciences, as well as an Honors Concentration within the John H. Martinson Honors College. Mia is here to tell us about her college experience and aspirations within the Biological Science field. […]

#PROFspective: Student Leader Fadi Khan Says “This is Only the Beginning”

Biological Sciences major Fadi Khan wears sunglasses against a nighttime sky at Holly Pointe Commons.

Today we feature student leader Fadi Khan (he/him) of Pleasantville, NJ (Atlantic County). Fadi is a senior Biological Sciences major and lives on campus in Holly Pointe Commons, where he is also a Community Assistant. A first-generation college student, Fadi shares with us his perspectives on life, his major, and getting the most out of […]

#PROFspective: Senior Lauren Cooper Says “Opportunities for Molecular and Cellular Biology Majors are Endless”

Rowan University Molecular and Cellular Biology major Lauren conducts research inside Discovery Hall.

Lauren Cooper is a senior here at Rowan University, from Sussex County, NJ. Lauren is majoring in Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB) along with her minors in pre-medical and chemistry.  Why did you choose Rowan? I chose Rowan because it felt like home when I stepped on campus. I loved the size of the school, […]

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

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

What is computer science?

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

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

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

What are the different avenues like within the field?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What was the coolest application that you developed at Rowan?

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

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

What do you enjoy the most about the field?

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

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

What is Freefly Systems?

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

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

What are your responsibilities like at Freefly?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See our video with Joseph here:

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Story produced by:
Lucas Taylor, English education graduate student

Beyond the Classroom: How Two Students Blend Art and Science

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

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

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

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

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

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

How did you two meet? 

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

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

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

How did you introduce Biomedical Art and Visualization to Naman? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Naman and Terry pose with campus greenery in the background.

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

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

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

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

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

Naman and Terry are standing on the Bunce Hall stairs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Story by:
Lucas Taylor, graduate English education 

Photography by:
Ashley Craven, sports and communication major

Getting to Know the Molecular & Cellular Biology Major with Lauren Staman

Lauren Staman, a senior Molecular & Cellular Biology major, speaks with us about the field, her experience conducting research at Rowan University, and tips for students looking into the major. Can you describe molecular and cellular biology? It’s basically a field of biology that’s very specialized yet interdisciplinary. It deals with the inner workings of […]

Hispanic Heritage Month #PROFspective: Law & Justice, Psychology Double Major Katerine A. on Not Hiding Her “Personality, Culture or Heritage”

Top of Bunce Hall with a blue sky background.

Today, as part of our Hispanic Heritage Month #PROFspective series, we feature Junior Katerine A. (she/her) from Bronx County, New York. Katerine is double majoring in Law & Justice Studies and Psychology. She discusses her Rowan experience, staying true to herself, and gives advice to future students. What is your student experience here at Rowan? […]

Hispanic Heritage Month #PROFspective: Senior Biological Sciences Major Esteban Nieto on a “New Community” at Rowan

Esteban sits in front of Science Hall.

Why did you decide to attend Rowan University? I wanted something different, something far from home. A new community, you know? Getting out of my comfort zone. What has your experience as a student been like? It’s been pretty good, honestly. Overall, I do enjoy it here. It’s very different. What attracted you to the […]

#PROFspective: Biological Sciences Major Aryana Marquez on Her Undergraduate Research with Anti-Cancer Drugs

Rowan Biological Sciences major Aryana M. works in a lab.

Today we highlight Aryana Marquez, a third-year Biological Sciences major with a minor in Chemistry. Marquez discusses her research with organic synthesis of cancer-treating pharmaceuticals, medical school goals, and being a woman of color in STEM.  Why did you choose Rowan? I applied to 11 schools; I think I got into about seven of them, […]

Meet Transfer Profs: College of Science and Mathematics Students Dante and Daniel

An image of Rowan's Science Hall.

Today we feature incoming transfer students Dante P. (they/them) and Daniel from Gloucester County and Cumberland County, respectively. Both give insights into their majors, why they’re excited to start classes at Rowan, and give advice to future transfer students. Welcome to Rowan! Could you share with us one thing you are looking forward to at […]

Beyond the Classroom: Graduate Student Jon Witkowski Puts Data Science Studies to Work in Cooper University Healthcare Internship

Jon stands in front of a chalkboard inside a a classroom on campus.

Today we speak to Jon Witkowski of Ocean County, N.J. on his internship with Cooper University Healthcare. Jon is a Rowan Global student pursuing a master’s degree in Data Science through Rowan’s accelerated CADP 4+1 program. He recently graduated with degrees in Computer Science and Mathematics. While an undergraduate student, Jon was a member of Rowan’s chapter of the Upsilon Pi Epsilon honor society and worked as a peer tutor

Can you tell us more about data science?

Data science is an interdisciplinary field between computer science and statistics, leveraging technology and utilizing computer science and high-level math to transform data and draw a useful output for informed, analytical decision making.

Jon smiles and stands on a walking path on campus.

What is your day-to-day like at your internship with Cooper University Healthcare?

The first project I was assigned was to make a dashboard for different health systems’ market shares in the general South Jersey region over the past four years. Other departments source the data and hand it to me, and basically, I built a dashboard to whatever their specifications are.

I’ll either be doing something like preparing the data and wrangling it to get it in a state that I want for the databases, or I’ll be trying to figure out how to format my dashboards and what kind of layout to do. Maybe I’ll be thinking about what types of different visualizations I can use. One of the things that we use are interactive, graphical filters. So instead of just having a drop down for selecting things, maybe you format your filter as a bar chart with the labels on it, so you can just click it, and it filters by that.

Getting the data and the results is the easy part. It’s putting it in a way that you can show as much as you can, without it being crowded — that’s really the hard part.

The best part was being able to experiment with new visualizations. I got hands-on experience in the software I had only gone over in class last semester.

Jon sits at a desktop computer station against a blue wall.

One of the more interesting things I’ve done was writing complex table queries that made the data look good, show the visualizations I wanted, and are efficient. An example of that: One of my proudest achievements is we have a map, and it’s colored by zip code. The intensity of the color represents Cooper’s market share in that region. So how many of the inpatient discharges in that region were Cooper’s and a lower volume or market share will be a yellow color, and it’ll get darker red for the higher color. Figuring that out was really fun to try to do.

How did you discover your internship?

It’s very hard to get an internship in the tech field as a college student. You would think it’s easy because it’s such a necessary field. I read online that the unemployment rate in the tech field like computer science and programming is less than 2%, so you’d imagine that many people are getting jobs. I applied for anything I could find, and I happened to get this one.

It actually worked out in the end. The work I do at Cooper is similar to work I did in a class I took last semester, which just happened to turn out to be important to me if I am working in that field, but it really is my favorite class that I ever took at Rowan called Visual Analytics. [The course] involves data visualization and analytics. You’re basically performing analysis on your data and coming out with any results you’re looking for. It’s all about the visualization of set results in an effective way. I really loved it. 

Jon stands inside a stairwell in an academic building.

Will your internship help you inside and outside of your master’s program?

I think so. The internship also focused on the back end of data visualization for you actually get the data. Before you have the data the way you want it for the visualizations, you have to prepare it and model it. My next project is for social determinants of health. I’m on the data modeling part of that. That is definitely not something I have a ton of experience in, so it’s going to be massively valuable during my career.

What advice would you offer to your peers?

To discover an internship, think about what keywords you should put in a job search. Look at LinkedIn, Indeed, Monster Jobs, Zip Recruiter, or anything. Just apply for as many internships as you can, because the more you apply, the more options you have. It might seem really annoying and stressful to be applying for hundreds of internships, but that just gives you more options to choose what you actually want. It will give you a better chance of finding something you like in the long run.

If you don’t know what you want to do in any degree program, I would look at the different course descriptions for the different courses in that major and the topics of the different concentrations. Also, I didn’t get to use LinkedIn Learning until my fifth semester here, but I would absolutely use LinkedIn Learning. If I could just go back to my freshman year, I would have used LinkedIn learning. I would have looked up all the computer science concentrations and started doing independent learning through that. It’s a resource that Rowan provides with countless hours of coursework. It’s incredibly useful. I think everyone should use it, and it’s definitely something that Rowan doesn’t emphasize enough.

How did you choose your majors in Computer Science and Mathematics?

I guess I got lucky with computer science because it’s what I always knew I wanted to do. I can remember as far back as like seven or eight in elementary school. When I was a kid, I wanted to do stuff with computers. Then, I learned what programming was. I just knew that’s what was in store for me.

Jon sits in the Wilson amphitheater.

Math was always my best subject in school. I initially had it as a minor coming in because the computer science degree is most of the math minor. It’s two extra classes to get the minor. Then, I found out there was another minor in the math department called Applied Math. That was three more classes, so I figured, “Why not tack that on?” Then, I found out that the math department had the Bachelor of Arts, which was maybe three or four more classes to tack on. So I figured, “Why not?”

Can you tell us about any faculty who have particularly impacted your college career?

Three professors who stand out most for me are Dr. H. [Dr. Gabriela Hristescu] and Professor [Jack] Myers from the computer science department and Dr. [Charalampos] Papachristou from the math department. I had three different classes with Dr. H, and I was also a learning assistant in one of her classes last semester. She was also one professor in charge of the Computer Science Honor Society, Upsilon Pi Epsilon, which I was a member of for three semesters, and was also on the e-board for. Dr. H has been a very huge part of my entire college career. She wrote me a recommendation for the master’s program.

I had Professor Myers for two classes, and I’m taking another class of his this upcoming fall. He is one of the best people I know. I took his database class back in the spring of 2020. Without that class, I wouldn’t be in data science. I just absolutely loved it. I’ve had a couple of classes in college that I would consider to be my favorites. Database was my first favorite class. I told him I loved the class, and he recommended data science to me. So I looked into it, and I saw that it aligned with what I wanted to do. He also wrote me a recommendation for the data science master’s program. Without either of these professors, I wouldn’t be in the field. 

Dr. Papachristou (or Babis for short) is a statistics professor whom I’ve taken three classes with. It was the first stat class with him that made me decide to concentrate my math degree in statistics, which was instrumental in me choosing to go into data science.

Jon works on his laptop inside a classroom.

What are your career goals or outcomes after having obtained the 4+1 degree?

My department at Cooper was pleased with my work this summer and has asked me to continue working with them part-time during the semester. I was also planning on being an adjunct professor in the computer science department. I think it’d be a great way to give back to the people who helped me get where I am.

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Edited by:
Rachel Rumsby, senior communication studies and public relations major

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

Beyond the Classroom: Sarah Forsman, Achieving the Impossible

Sarah smiles with green shrubs in the background.

Sarah Forsman, a Marketing and Psychology student from Gloucester County, is an advocate for those who have Alpha-Mannosidosis and Craniosynostosis. Her experience with the following conditions have provided Sarah with a renewed perspective — one that influences her outreach and prospective goals. In today’s article, Sarah discusses her story, her involvement across organizations, and her use of writing as a platform to champion others. 

Why did you choose to study marketing and psychology?

I came to Rowan after I went to Rowan College of South Jersey. I got my associate degree in business administration, and I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I chose marketing because it’s versatile.

When I entered my senior year, I realized that I didn’t like marketing, but I had all of these credits. I prayed and thought about it until I came to the conclusion of psychology. This is something that I am interested in learning more about and potentially doing in the future because it has helped me. I chose psychology so if I potentially got a master’s in this area, I would have all the core classes.

What internship are you involved in and what are some responsibilities in this position?

Currently, I am interning for Craniofacial Connection. They are a brand new organization. I’ve been in the craniofacial world for some time now because I was diagnosed with Craniosynostosis and I had surgery when I was a year and a half. The person that I am interning for, she worked for the children’s hospital when I had my surgery. She was starting this new organization and she needed help with marketing. Right now, we’re focusing on starting social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. We are also working to develop a newsletter as well as updating her website. 

Sarah stands and smiles at her home.

Can you share your story about Alpha-Mannosidosis and Craniosynostosis?

I was born with Alpha-Mannosidosis. It’s a rare genetic disease that affects every single cell in the body. My body was missing one enzyme and that was the alpha-mannosidase enzyme. By missing that enzyme, it really affects every single part of the body. It affects my bones, brain, and muscles. If you think of something, it’s probably most likely affected by this rare disease. I’ve had a lot of challenges when I was younger. I had moderate hearing loss so I had hearing aids. My muscles were very weak so I had trouble walking. I had ataxia or balance issues. I had a lot of cognitive issues and processing issues. I also have issues with my memory so I don’t remember anything from when I was younger. Even things that were two or three years ago are hard for me to remember, so I always say that I have a blank slate for everything!

With Alpha-Mannosidosis, I do have a treatment option, but it’s not technically a cure. I had a bone marrow transplant when I was four and a half. Transplants are very risky because of the chemo drugs that are used. The surgery really helped my life because if I didn’t have that bone marrow transplant, I would be here in a wheelchair, barely communicating, and having so many issues because it is a degenerative disease.

What are some of the challenges that followed after your bone marrow transplant?

I don’t really have a lot of challenges that were from the actual transplant. We’ve watched a lot of the different aspects that it can affect, and everything is looking pretty good right now. The bone marrow transplant stops the disease from progressing at that stage so anything that happened is thought to have stopped where it was. I still have challenges with my memory, cognitive issues, and brain issues in general. I have a lot of good muscles now and after the bone marrow transplant my hearing came back. I don’t have hearing aids now, which is super cool!

The biggest thing is probably my brain because it really affects everyday life. My life doesn’t look the same as a typical person that is my age because of what I’m experiencing with my brain challenges. That means I don’t have a job, I don’t drive, I go to school part-time, and I’m doing neurofeedback therapy three times a week. My schedule looks a lot different, but I’m always just trying to remind myself to stay in the moment and be ok with where I am because of the things that I’ve gone through.

Sarah sits and smiles at her home.

How do you advocate for others who may be experiencing similar challenges?

I’m involved with a lot of different things because I don’t have a job, so it can help me be in all of these different areas. A lot of what I do, I do on social media. Parents who have kids that are being diagnosed with Alpha-Mannosidosis are reaching out to me because they see that I have Alpha-Mannosidosis on my social media pages. It’s so cool because they’re reaching out to me and we’re getting on a Zoom call to talk. We’re connecting with families that are across the world like Brazil and Serbia. The one girl that we connected with recently had a bone marrow transplant to stop the disease from progressing. A lot of my advocating happens on social media because there’s not that many people that have this rare disease alone in the United States.

As a board member of International Society for Mannosidosis and Related Diseases (ISMRD), what is the mission of the organization and your responsibilities?

ISMRD is the International Society for Mannosidosis and Related Diseases. It’s a family support for all of the different rare diseases that are within this organization. We’re researching a lot because we work with scientists who are looking for cures for these nine glycoprotein rare diseases. We’re on a mission to really try and get the patients connected with the scientists, doctors, and similar networks. I have been on the board for a little under a year. I am working on sending emails to the family to update them on things that are happening within the organization or any opportunities that are happening in the rare disease world. I am also going to be helping them with their social media presence on Instagram because they don’t have Instagram. The board is made up of parents of these kids who have these rare diseases, so there’s not many younger people on the board.

How do you use your interest in writing as an outlet and a platform for your goals?

I absolutely love writing! It’s funny because when I was in elementary school, I always wanted to be a writer one day. My mom told me to go for it, even though I had challenges in the writing classes because that was one of the challenges I had with what I was born with. Writing was not my strong suit whatsoever, so I love that I am able to write and share my journey. I write in a way that feels like I’m talking to you and that’s really what I want it to be like. I want to have a conversation with someone because we live in a world that is so fast-paced and no one is sitting down and having a conversation about what they are going through or what is happening in their life. I just want to help to inspire people, even if it’s just one person that reads my blog. I just want to share some hope, joy, and peace in their life.

Sarah stands and smiles at her home.

What is the idea behind the title of your blog, Achieve the Impossible Today?

I am a Christian, and in the Bible it says in Mark 10:27 by Jesus: “With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.” I grew up Catholic, but I stopped going to church. I knew God when I was younger, but it wasn’t like I know him now. In the past four years of knowing God and diving into my relationship with Jesus, he’s just shown me that anything is possible. The whole thing is I just want to share stories of doing the impossible because everything that I’m doing today is considered impossible.

Who do you hope to reach with your blog?

Anyone — I would love for anyone who’s going through a hard season to read my blog and find that hope that they will get through this. It’s also for parents who are just finding out that their kid has Alpha-Mannosidosis because there’s not much out there. I just want to raise awareness of the disease.

What are your goals for the blog and your future?

The main theme that I wish to go after is just to inspire people in whatever it may be that I’m doing.

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Story by:
Jessica Nguyen, elementary education and literacy studies graduate

Photos by:
Harley Sarmiento, senior sports communication and media major

Meet #Rowan2026: Incoming College of Science and Mathematics Students

Exterior shot of Science Hall.

Today we feature incoming first year students Ariana Benitez, Soorya B., Abby Titus (she/they), Leila Underwood (she/her), and Dallas Hainsworth (she/her). Ariana is from Bergen County, NJ and will be living on campus as a Psychology and Exercise Science major. Soorya is from Princeton, NJ (Mercer County) and will be living on campus as a […]

#PROFspective: Computer Science Major, Basketball Player, International Student Marko Pantovic

Outdoor shot of Marko wearing a coat and backpack.

Today we speak to Marko Pantovic, a senior Computer Science major and basketball student-athlete from Belgrade, Serbia. Marko transferred to Rowan University from Maryville University in Missouri. Marko tells us about the chance experience that led him to Rowan and shares his advice for future international students. 

Marko standings holding the Serbia flag.

How did you end up transferring to Rowan?

In the summer of 2018, my brother was just getting married. He had been dating his girlfriend for eight years. They both met at Drexel. They had a wedding in Philly that summer. My family and I decided to look at schools around the area because they lived in Mullica Hill, NJ. I decided to look at Rowan. The school looked great, and they had the major I wanted to do. The D3 level doesn’t matter. Basketball doesn’t matter. Joe Crispin, the Rowan Men’s Basketball coach, set up a tour for me right after I email him. I did the tour, and then I committed right on the spot. I loved everything about Rowan. It was also great to be near my brother for the first time in years.

How did moving closer to your brother affect your college career?

My brother became more of a father figure towards me, which I didn’t expect. I really appreciated him because he’s been pushing me to be my best, not just in school, but also on the court and with everything else. He’s shown me how it looks like living life here. I loved every second I’ve been here.

Marko poses with his brother and his brother's wife after a basketball game.
Marko poses with his brother and his brother’s wife after a basketball game.

What was it like, transitioning to life in the United States?

Well, I know some people from back home who felt so homesick they had to go back home. I have never felt that way, but I think it was because my older siblings came to the United States as well. I did a prep year before going to college, and there were three or four Serbs there, as well as other international students. The next year, I felt by myself. The holidays and winter break were especially lonely. Winter break felt like it would never end. That was a big reason I wanted to transfer to Rowan. Now that I am living with my brother, his wife and my two little nephews, I feel at home. I don’t get as homesick as I did before. 

Do you have any advice for future international students on how to make yourself at home?

My brother was not the only person who made me feel at home here. I also give credit to Nick and Rob, two of the other seniors on the basketball team. They accepted me as soon as I came here. I would say finding a group of friends is important. You can find one on your team, in your major, or through other international students at the International Center.

The International Center here is great. They have banquets, meet-and-greets, and other events. They were especially helpful my first semester here when I was trying to see if there was anyone else from my country here. 

Marko is introduced before a game.

How did you choose your major?

Computer science is really vast. Cybersecurity, everything we do on our phones and computers, is all computer science. A cash register at a store is computer science. The vastness attracted me, and I wanted to explore it. My dad works at an IT company, so I have been exposed to it. Ever since I was a kid, I have always loved computers and loved working with them. I had never experienced software and programming, so I have been learning a lot in my courses. I learned how much I like computer science, and how vast it is.

What is your favorite part of computer science?

I’ve had a lot of software development classes the last two semesters, which have been amazing and I’ve had so much fun with them. I’d like to focus on software development, but I’m not sure if I want to do it in web apps or mobile apps.

Marko stands next to a sign with many countries on it outdoors.

Do you have a favorite moment with your basketball team?

In Serbia, we take basketball really seriously. The fans are passionate; they chant and support their team, and they yell at the other team. I love that kind of environment. We had a setting like that in Jersey City, and we won the game. It was awesome, and I’ll never forget it. 

What made you feel that you made the right decision, coming to Rowan?

The whole Rowan experience, I’m really thankful for it. I didn’t think school would be this great. I always knew I was going to stick through it. I always knew I would finish school with a degree in something. When I was here, I literally had a feeling I didn’t want to leave. Rowan has become a second home for me, and I’m really thankful for it.

See our video with Marko here: 

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

Photos by:
Valentina Giannattasio, first year dance and marketing double major
Rowan Athletics

Family photo submitted by:
Marko Pantovic

Senior Reflects: Ella Emmer on Being PRISM President

Exterior shot of Bunce Hall lit in Pride colors.

Ella Emmer, a senior Psychology major with a minor in German from Somerset County, NJ, reflects on her experience as the PRISM club president and the legacy she hopes to leave on the organization.  

Ella has made her mark on Rowan University’s community. Her impact can be attributed to her efforts as PRISM president, an LGBTQ+ organization on campus.

“PRISM provides a safe space for members of the LQBTQ+ community to socialize, form friendships and be their true selves,” she says.

Ella stumbled across PRISM… literally.

“I got lost going to a study abroad meeting and I wandered into JoAnna Murphy’s office in the SJICR office. After we got to talking, she introduced me to PRISM. The meeting times fit with my schedule, so I started going to meetings regularly. I became really close with members of the e-board and passionate about activism, so I decided to run as secretary my sophomore year. After serving as secretary, I ran for president and have served in that role ever since,” Ella explains.

As president of PRISM, Ella manages a lot of events for the organization. “So much goes into planning and executing events for the club. I have to pick a venue, contract any guest speakers or entertainers that come out, and spearhead any fundraising necessary for the event.” 

Ella Emmer headshot in front of a PRIDE flag.

Ella was especially proud of PRISM’s role in the university’s Lavender Graduation ceremony, which recognizes and celebrates LGBTQ+ students and allies ahead of their respective college commencement ceremonies. 

“Lavender Graduation is very special to me. Since legal names have to be put on your diploma for graduation, it can oftentimes not reflect a person’s true identity. PRISM helps host a graduation that uses the person’s preferred name — their real name, to be recognized and honored for graduating as their true selves. I am speaking at the event and I could not be more proud to be a part of it.” 

Ella at the Lavender Graduation ceremony.
Ella (third from left) at the Lavender Graduation ceremony (credit: Desire Forman)

Along with hosting events, Ella leads e-board meetings as PRISM President. “During meetings, aside from preparing for events or upcoming fundraisers, we have an educational portion about LGBTQ+ history. Since LGBTQ+ history is not taught in schools, it is so important to learn about our history and all of the activists who got us here today,” she says.

As she reflects on her experience in the club, Ella looks back fondly on the memories she has made.

“I am really happy I got to be involved in an organization that makes a difference. Since I have been in PRISM, we have raised over $2,500 for LGBTQ+ organizations. This money has gone to not only big organizations, like The Trevor Project, but smaller organizations that aren’t as popular or advertised as well,” she says. “Aside from fundraising, I also worked with JoAnna Murphy with the SJICR to create a map for gender-neutral bathrooms on campus. This was a really important project to help others feel more comfortable on campus.”

Ella hopes the club continues to advance and do great things after she graduates.

“I hope the future of PRISM is bright and continues to make a positive impact for people in the community. Now that Covid is slowing down, I hope the new e-board can hold more events and partner with other organizations in the surrounding area for our members.” 

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Story by:
Loredonna Fiore, public relations and advertising graduate

Photos courtesy of:
Ella Emmer
Desire Forman

Period Poverty is the Unspoken Crisis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Logan has her arms crossed and her head tilted.

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

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

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

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

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

Photography by:
Stephanie Batista, junior business management major

Produced by:
Lucas Taylor, senior English education major



Randy Bushman: A Rowan Global Student Starting a Career in Computer Science

Randy bushman header photo

Randy Bushman, a Rowan University alumnus who graduated with a degree in Computer Science, decided his alma mater would be a great fit to pursue his master’s degree. Now, this Rowan Global student is poised to begin his career at a world-renowned research institution just a few hours from campus. Read on to learn how Randy’s education and internships prepared him for his next chapter.

Randy gained a lot of valuable research experience while earning his undergraduate degree. Along with his coursework, he developed relationships with his professors that turned into opportunities.

“The computer science department has a collaboration with Bristol Myers Squibb, a pharmaceutical industrial company,” he explains. “A professor recommended me for an open research position during my undergrad, and I got a position designing software analysis for nuclear chemistry.” 

His momentum did not stop there. Randy learned of a scholarship opportunity called SFS: Scholarship for Service.

Randy sitting outside Rowan Hall.

“Basically, SFS is a program that offers tuition remission in exchange for employment with the government. My professor recommended me for the scholarship, I interviewed for the position, and I landed it. I was actually able to start taking graduate-level courses my senior year of undergrad and got them paid for.” 

This summer, Randy fulfilled his part of the deal and worked for ACE (Advance Course Engineering). ACE is a military-oriented internship that focuses heavily on cybersecurity, cyber warfare, teamwork and leadership.

“Through ACE, I got to work with people in the Air Force. I learned a lot about cybersecurity and cyber defense. I was able to apply a lot of what I learned in class throughout that experience,” he says. Now, Randy is pursuing his master’s in Computer Science, completely funded by the SFS.

Randy standing outside Rowan Hall.

“Grad school is definitely challenging. The major difference is that there is a lot less work, but it is a lot more difficult. I really try to keep on top of studying all of the material to make sure I don’t get off-track,” he says.

Although the program is challenging, Randy spoke about how supported he felt by professors in the department. “The faculty here are just great. They introduced me to so many opportunities that I didn’t know existed,” he says. “What I learned in class also really prepared me and gave me a solid foundation that I applied to each internship.” 

Looking ahead, Randy already has a job lined up after he graduates this spring.

Randy sitting on steps inside Rowan Hall.

“I got a job offer at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab doing cyber defense. I am so happy to start this new chapter with so much experience that I gained from Rowan University and my prior internship opportunities.” 

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

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

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#PROFspective: Senior Psychology Major Kya Riley

Kya smiles and sits in the lobby of Campbell Library.

Today we talk to senior Psychology major Kya Riley, a commuter from Sicklerville, NJ (Camden County). Kya discusses her experience at Rowan the past four years and her future plans within the psychology field. 

Why did you choose to study psychology? Have you always wanted to pursue a career in psych?

I chose to study psychology because I am really big on mental health and understanding mental health and how it can vary by individual. I am someone that has struggled with depression and still do. My personal experience with mental health is what really got me interested in psychology and mental well-being to begin with. In the psychology field, I am interested in becoming a counselor for kids and teenagers within a school environment.   

Why did you choose Rowan to study psychology?

I chose Rowan when I was in my college search mainly because I wanted to be close to home. 

Most memorable experience at Rowan so far?

My most memorable experience was probably when I lived on campus freshman year and experienced more school life as a campus resident. I remember going to one of the events where the sororities join together at the event fairs and informational sessions.

Kya Riley smiling inside the library.

What would your dream job be as a psychology major?

I do want to start off at first in school counseling. However, my dream job within this field would definitely be opening up and running my own practice and give counseling to kids and teenagers.

What class at Rowan have you found most challenging, interesting, difficult?

A difficult class for me was definitely Psychology of Scientific Thinking. Another class that was difficult for me was Intro to Sculpture. A class that was interesting to me was Human Exceptionality. 

How do you think Rowan has prepared you for your future endeavors?

I have learned a lot over the years from my experience at Rowan that I can utilize in my future endeavors and in my future work life. The most important thing that I have learned as someone who will be entering the human services profession is that you must have an open mind and learn to alter your thinking. It is a profession that you need to be understanding of everyone and everything. 

Kya Riley in Rowan Campbell Library.

What is something interesting that you have learned this semester within a specific class?

I am in a classed called Psychology of Women and Cultural Experience. In the class we learn about gender stereotypes and I thought it was very interesting and informative. 

What does a typical day for you look like? 

My schedule really changes day by day depending on my work schedule. In a typical day, I wake up in the morning, head to campus for class, and then I go off campus and head to work. After work I head home to relax for a little before I head back to campus for my night classes. Before heading home for the night I either spend time with friends or hang out with my boyfriend.

Portrait of Kya Riley inside Campbell Library.

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Story by:
Natalie DePersia, junior public relations major

Photos by:
Valentina Giannattasio, first year dance and marketing major

Pride Month: Hearing Their Voice, Emily Ward

Emily Ward smiles outside on campus.

Today we feature Emily Ward (she/they), a freshman from Mullica Hill, NJ. Emily is majoring in Physics and has a minor in astronomy. Emily discusses how their involvement in PRISM supports them while being a Rowan student and their journey through recognizing and being open about their identity. Story by:  Natalie DePersia, junior public relations […]

Women in Leadership #PROFspective: Riya Bhatt, the AVP of University Advancement

Today we feature Riya Bhatt, the AVP of University Advancement for Student Government. Riya is a sophomore Biological Sciences major who also minors in Public Health and Wellness. Riya discusses her involvement in SGA (Student Government Association) and her future plans as a biological sciences major.

Alumni Success: Melissa Miller ’02 Ensures Penn Dental Medicine Technology Stays Up To Speed [VIDEO]

The set up of a dental clinic room.

Melissa Miller, a Computer Science alumna, directs and leads all technology operations within the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, including academics, clinics, research and satellite community locations.

“One thing I really enjoyed about my experiences in the computer science program at Rowan was all of the collaborative work and projects we were able to complete that actually had real world connections to them,” says Miller ’02.

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First Year Voices: Physics Major, Beanie Baby Enthusiast Emily Ward

Emily poses in front of the Prof statue with a few of her Beanie Babies.

Today we feature Emily Ward, a first year Physics major with a minor in Astronomy from Mullica Hill, NJ (Gloucester County). Emily runs an Instagram account called @ProfBeanieBabies along with managing a heavy school load. Emily shares how she balances it all. 

What inspired you to join your major? 

When I was around 10 or 11, I watched the reboot of “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” with Neil DeGrasse Tyson. I talked about it with my dad during the car ride to school and telling him all about this cool show I was watching. He told me, “Well, that’s what astrophysicists do for a living!” It was in this moment where I realized that I realized that that’s what I want to do for a living. 

What’s something interesting that you learned in a class you’ve taken this semester? 

I’ve learned a lot of cool things in my literature class about time. The class is called Science and Literature: Modern Times with Dr. Hyde. We talk a lot about how time is a social construct and discuss literature that centers around that thought. I’ve learned a lot of really cool things in this class, so much that I can’t pinpoint just one. 

What’s your typical day like on campus?

I wake up around 8 or 9 in the morning. I normally go to the student center for breakfast because I love Pete’s Bagels coffee. I chill in the Pit for a while, playing web games or doing homework. I have classes everyday at 11 so that’s where I’d typically head to next. After class on Mondays and Wednesdays, I go hang out with my best friend from high school named Andrew. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I usually head back to the Student Center and hang out there. 

The Beanie Babies rested atop of the owl
The Beanie Babies steal the show!

You run a Beanie Baby account that has become quite popular around campus! How did you come up with the idea? 

Senior year of high school, my friend, Olivia, and I had an AP Calculus test the first week back in school and Olivia was really nervous. A few weeks back, I found a Beanie Baby snail while thrifting, and I know that Olivia loves snails. So I thought, “Hey, why not bring in the Beanie Baby snail for her?” So I brought in the Beanie Baby for her to have during the day and she really liked that. From then on, I kept bringing in Beanie Babies to school to make me and my friends smile. Eventually, our whole friend group started buying them. 

Where do you get them from?

I found this antique store in Pitman that gets shipments and sells them. I started going there so often to buy them that the owner now knows who I am and texts me whenever they’re about to get a shipment. My friends and I shop there all the time now. My friend, Emily, bought her first beanie baby, Weenie, there. I’m definitely the trendsetter of the group. 

And who are your Beanie Babies? 

My Beanie Babies are named Batty, Pounce, Magic and Cassie!

What’s one club, organization, or group of friends that’s helped you feel like Rowan is home?

PRISM has really helped me feel at home. I remember going to the first meeting and they were talking about their policies against discrimination and it included sexual orientation in the policy. I went to a Catholic school and we didn’t have any policies against discrimination of sexual orientation. My friend, Abby, and I ran a secret club at the school like PRISM. We had to keep it a secret or else the school feared that parents would pull their kids out or that donors would stop giving donations. They made us call it a Cultural Diversity Club so people didn’t know what it was actually about. While I loved my old school and how supportive many of the teachers were of our club, it’s sad that our administration couldn’t fully support us in fear of losing money.

Emily smiling near the Science Building
Emily looking beautiful!

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Story by:
Bianca Gray, recent English graduate

Photos By:
Nick Flagg, senior theatre and advertising major 

Student Leader Lauren Repmann on Biomedical Engineering Major, 3D Printing Club Success

Lauren sits on a bench next to a white, sphere sculpture.

Today we speak to Lauren Repmann, a senior Biomedical Engineering major with a minor in Chemistry. Lauren is an on-campus resident from Laurence Harbor, NJ (Middlesex County). She is the 3D Printing Club founder and co-president, president of the Women in Engineering Club, and a student mentor for the Engineering Learning Community. Lauren works off campus at Tranquility Path Investment Advisors as an Administrative Assistant, and on campus at the Office of Admissions as an Admissions Ambassador.

Lauren poses in the woods.

What inspired you to choose your major?

My mom works as an engineer at AT&T, and I always knew that I wanted to follow in her footsteps. When it came time for me to choose my college major, I wanted to pursue a field that combined engineering with medicine, and Biomedical Engineering was the perfect choice.

As I look back on this decision, I see that there are so many other benefits of choosing Biomedical Engineering that I wasn’t aware of. I’ve developed a genuine understanding of how to approach problems and sticky situations from a logical perspective, and this skill will be useful for all aspects of my life. I’ve also gained confidence in my technical abilities, so much so that I founded a 3D Printing Club at Rowan University.

Most importantly, I’ve recognized the importance of using engineering to set an example for younger female generations. Engineering is known to be a male-dominated field, and reaching out to elementary, middle and high school girls about a potential career in engineering can help to reduce this stigma.

Lauren poses in front of a fountain.

Tell us something interesting thing that you’ve learned in a class this semester.

It’s my last semester as a Rowan student, and I wanted to take a fun class to celebrate! I’ve always enjoyed taking pictures, so I chose to enroll in Honors Digital Photography with Jenny Drumgoole. The coolest thing I’ve learned so far is how to take long-exposure photos. This type of photography is great for taking night-time photos because the camera shutter stays open for a long period of time to record the light. Even if the area where the photo is being taken seems dark, the long exposure photography style will allow light to creep in from peripheral areas. I’ve made lots of awesome photos with this technique, and I’ll definitely continue to use this skill after this course.

Lauren poses in a clearing.

Take us through one typical Rowan day for you.

My typical day at Rowan starts at Engineering Hall. I serve as the co-president of Rowan’s 3D Printing Club, so I’m always in the 3D printing lab to make sure everything is running smoothly. While I’m in the lab, I usually make finishing touches on my homework assignments and get ready for my classes. After about two hours in the lab, I leave for my 11 a.m. classes. My biomedical engineering course load this semester is very heavy, but I’m thankful to have my friends who always want to collaborate on homework and assignments! I usually spend some time with them after my classes are over at 2 pm.

After that, I run back to Engineering Hall to make progress on my engineering clinic project. I work in Dr. Staehle’s Systems Biology and Neuroregeneration laboratory, and my project focuses on assessing the toxicity of exogenous chemicals, including DEHP and BP-3, on planarian flatworms. After catching up on my experiments, I run down the hall to one of the engineering clinic classrooms to teach my Engineering Learning Community seminar. I currently have 18 freshmen engineering students as my mentees, and we have done lots of fun and productive activities together. My favorite has been the icebreaker bingo tournament. It really helped me to get to know my mentees! Once my seminar ends at 5 p.m/, I run down to the first floor of Engineering Hall to close the 3D Printing Lab, then my day is over! Finally getting back to my apartment after each long day is rewarding! I change into my comfy clothes, eat dinner and ice cream, call my parents, do some homework, then start all over again the next day!

Tell us about one club, organization or group of friends that makes you feel like Rowan is home.

Whenever I step foot in Rowan’s 3D Printing Lab at Engineering Hall, I feel like Rowan is home. When I was a sophomore, I became very interested in 3D printing. The ability to take an idea and turn it into an object that I could hold intrigued me. I taught myself how to use OnShape, a popular CAD software, and I produced lots of cool models that I wanted to 3D print! When I approach one of Rowan’s 3D printing labs to ask about printing my models, I was told that the printers are primarily used for academic purposes. I knew I was not the only student who wanted to print personal models, and I also knew that Rowan University’s 3D printing lab had the resources to offer a personal printing service.

With that knowledge, I worked with a friend to draft a 3D printing plan to present to the technicians at the Engineering Hall 3D printing lab. The technicians were completely on board with our idea, and we then began the club petitioning process through the Student Government Association. On October 12, 2020, we officially became a Rowan club, and in January 2021, we received funding to purchase filament and supplies.

Since then, Rowan’s 3D Printing Club has grown at an exponential rate. We have 75 members who consistently attend our meetings and events, and we even won Rowan’s Outstanding Student Organization Award for the Spring 2021 semester. I’ve always felt that home is a feeling that you have the power to create. Through this club, I’ve not only created the feeling of home for myself, but also for all the other Rowan students who want to become more engaged in 3D printing. There is a genuine sense of community and passion that one can sense immediately upon walking into the room during one of our general meetings or workshops, and that is my Rowan “home” feeling that I will cherish for my entire life.

See Lauren and learn more about the 3D Printing Club in this video. 

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

Photos by:
Stephanie Batista, junior music industry major 

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#PROFspective: Psychology Major, Psi Sigma Phi Multicultural Fraternity Member Zyaire Harkins

Zyaire stands outside James Hall.

Today we speak to junior Psychology major Zyaire Harkins of Willingboro, NJ (Burlington County). Zyaire shares his PROFspective on campus activities, service opportunities in Greek life and his future professional goals. What inspired you to choose your major? I chose psychology during high school. I feel that the mental health field is very undervalued, and […]

Rowan Abroad: Rana Sarwatejas Shares His Experience Studying in Great Britain!

Public art display of city names on campus.

Rana Sarwatejas is a senior Biochemistry major here at Rowan University. Today, he tells us what his experience has been like studying abroad at the University of Birmingham in the U.K.

Would you mind introducing yourself? 

My name is Rana. I’m a senior Biochemistry major at Rowan University but I’m currently studying abroad at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom. I’m originally from Nepal. That’s where Mount Everest is for anyone wondering. I went to an English Boarding school in India so when I learned English I learned British English, which is why I have this wonderful British accent. I decided to go to America for my undergraduate degree, which is how I ended up at Rowan. 

What was it like when you first came to Rowan? 

It was a little intimidating. I was a young Nepalese boy who had never been to America before and didn’t really know anything about it. Everything was quite the opposite. I had a bit of a cultural shock but, after a month, I loved every bit of it [being in America]. I made amazing friends. I got to travel. I’m a huge travelholic by the way. I also met my friends from the University of Birmingham at Rowan University when they were completing their study abroad program. 

Rana looking out over the hillside
Rana looks out over the hillside in deep thought.

Why did you choose to study abroad in England at the University of Birmingham?

I always wanted to study abroad, especially in the U.K. Like I said before, I did study at an English boarding school but it was in India. Still, there was a large British influence over me. However, I never got to experience British culture fully and I had in my head for a long time that I would. I’m probably going to do my master’s degree here in England so studying abroad here was just a way of testing the water. I get to learn what the education system is like, how the professors are, and how the universities function. I also needed to answer the question of whether or not it would be too much of a culture shock.

On top of all of this, I met someone during my sophomore year named Dan who came from the University of Birmingham to Rowan for his study abroad program. I also met another study abroad student that year named Laura who was from Germany. With them, I traveled everywhere around the country; Miami, Orlando, Austin, Houston, Dallas, San Francisco, Vegas, L.A., everywhere! I really enjoyed it and we formed a very tight bond. They showed me all of the things that study abroad had to offer. Studying abroad isn’t just something to put on your resume. It’s a way to make memories.

How did you adapt to your new school and environment? 

It was quite easy because I already studied in a similar environment previously at the boarding school. The only difference was how the country itself worked. I had to get registered with a general practitioner, which was something I wasn’t familiar with previously. I had to learn about the payment system. Rather than paying per semester, you have to pay per week for your accommodations. They really don’t have meal plans at the university unless it’s a particular accommodation. Stuff like that was completely new. 

Rana looks out at the shore, the sun beaming down in the background
Rana stands proud atop a rocky shore.

How did you go about making friends?

One bad thing that happened to me were some issues with my visa. I wasn’t able to come over as early as I would have liked and I missed the orientation. Luckily, I bonded very quickly with my flatmates and they already had friends of their own of whom they would often invite over so I was able to befriend them as well.

Attending classes also helped me to meet new people. There’s weekly international nights that they have here and I’ve gone out and met different people there too. While at Rowan, I worked with RAH [Rowan After Hours], as I’m a total nightowl, and working with them helped me to improve my communication skills. That job forces you to socialize and that helped me to go on and make friends at Birmingham. 

How have classes been?

My classes have been quite fun. I’ve already completed a lot of my course requirements so I had the ability to choose from different classes outside of my major. I’m taking American Literature right now and you’re probably wondering: Why are you taking American literature when you’re in Britain? Well, I had to take a literature course as a graduation requirement but any type of literature is new for me as I’m a biochemistry student. They’ve been teaching me about “The Great Gatsby,” which is something I never bother to read before coming here. I’m taking political science, a course called Debates in World Politics. It really encapsulates everything that is happening in the world, what’s happened in the past, and how that’s all affecting the government systems in different countries. I love political science, so that course has just been going great.  

What would you say to students who are interested in studying abroad at some point during their academic journey? 

Studying abroad can be intimidating when you think about it for the first time but the amount of knowledge that you gain from traveling is just extraordinary.

I’ve been traveling since I was a kid. Like I said earlier, I was sent to a boarding school in another country when I was just 10 years old. I’ve got a good grasp about how much traveling can teach you. If you really want to learn about life, academic knowledge is one thing, but collecting and garnering life experiences actually makes who you are. That’s why I can’t recommend studying abroad more. It’s so amazing!

Rana poses for a picture in a busy market place.
Rana poses for a candid headshot in a crowded marketplace.

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Story by:
Bianca Gray, senior English major

Photos provided by: 
Rana Sarwatejas, senior biochemistry major

Asian Cultural Association with Senator Mita Ray

Asian Cultural Association member Mita Ray sits outside Savitz Hall.

Today we introduce the Asian Cultural Association. We talk to junior Chemistry major Mita Ray, club senator, as she discusses what the Asian Cultural Association is, her personal responsibilities within the club, and what members do on a daily basis.

What is the Asian Cultural Association? What is the goal of this club?

The goal of this club is to basically promote Asian culture and diversity at Rowan University. This organization’s main purpose is to provide education and awareness of asian culture in hopes to form a better multicultural community. We encourage all individuals to be team members of this club and to learn about Asian culture!

We meet every Friday at 2-4 p.m. at the Business Hall in room 303, and anyone and everyone is welcome to attend.

Mita smiling while sitting on a boulder outside on campus.

What does your role as Senator of the Asian Cultural Association entail? 

My job is to outreach and spread awareness about our club. I also look to do collaborations with other culture clubs in hope to learn more about other areas around the world as well. 

ACA’s collaboration meeting with RUPAC (Rowan University Philippine-American Coalition) where members are making paper flowers called sampaguitas.
ACA’s collaboration meeting with RUPAC (Rowan University Philippine-American Coalition) where members are making paper flowers called sampaguitas.

What actions have you taken to promote awareness for your club? 

We are in the process of creating different flyers and posters for our club. We also are focusing on reviving the Asian Cultural Association Instagram so we can connect with current members and potential members through social media.

Mita sitting outside of Savitz Hall.

How do you work as a club to respond to Asian hate?

This is a topic we will cover in our event nights. We have history nights planned where we discuss past events and how these events affect the present. We also have nights where we discuss current events going on in the United States and around the world. As of right now, we are still thinking of different ways to educate our members on topics like Asian hate and ways to start conversations about Asian hate.  

ACA's Henna night where Mita is pictured on the right and Aarushi Gupta (e-board member) is on the left.
ACA’s Henna night where Mita is pictured on the right and Aarushi Gupta (e-board member) is on the left.

What are your goals and aspirations for the future for this club? 

Before this club, I did not feel fully seen as a member of the Asian community. I went to a diverse high school and I was comfortable around individuals with similar cultures. However, I feel as if it was more difficult for me here to connect to individuals that are the same culture.

I hope this club provides a safe space for members of the Asian culture to gather and simply have conversations. As for individuals who are not Asian, I hope they aspire to learn more about other cultures because I believe cultural generalization is a problem we face as a society. 

Mita poses next to a tree on campus.

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Story by:
Natalie DePersia, junior public relations major

Photos by:
Stephanie Batista, junior music industry major 

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Mita Ray

#PROFspective: Chemistry Major, Rowan After Hours Programming Coordinator Jon Marcolongo

Exterior shot of the Chamberlain Student Center.

Today we speak with Jon Marcolongo, a senior Chemistry major and commuter from Mullica Hill, NJ (Gloucester County). Jon is a programming coordinator for Rowan After Hours (RAH). He will share insight on studying chemistry and his involvement in his student worker position. 

Why Rowan?

I knew I wanted to pursue chemistry ever since junior year of high school. Rowan stuck out to me because it is local as I am a commuter from Mullica Hill, and because my sister went here. Prior to making my college decision I was very familiar with the campus and it quickly became one of my first choices in my college search. 

Why did you choose to study Chemistry?

During my time in high school, I was always interested in science. It wasn’t until junior year that I took chemistry and realized it was the route I wanted to explore while in college. I had an amazing teacher for chemistry who inspired me to choose this type of science as my major.

Although being a chemistry major is difficult and a lot of work, the professors are there to help you. Put in the time to complete your work and ask for help when you need it because you professors truly do want to see you succeed!

Jon Marcolongo.
Jon Marcolongo

What are your future plans and what is your dream job for working as a Chemistry major?

Eventually I do want to work in a laboratory setting, preferably involving research. Right now I am planning on graduating and hopefully working for a chemical manufacturing company. 

What is it like being a commuter on campus? What advice do you have for fellow commuters when trying to get involved around campus and meet new people? 

The one difficult and stressful part about being a commuter is finding parking. However, it has pleasantly not been too difficult to find a spot this year yet.

My advice for fellow commuters is to go to any clubs or activities that you are interested in. I would definitely recommend seeing if Rowan offers the clubs or activities that you were a part of in high school. There are so many options and ways to get involved around campus.

Most importantly, go to events. This is the best way to meet new people and find others with similar interests. 

What inspired you to get involved on campus?

Back in high school I was more of an introverted than extroverted person. I decided that in college I wanted to make a conscious effort to break out of my shell. I started going to different activities and events on campus especially through Rowan After Hours and I quickly realized that RAH was simply an enjoyable experience. This is how I ended up applying for RAH in the first place. 

What is your typical day like at Rowan?

Typical day starts with breakfast before driving to Rowan for the day. During my free time I usually go to the student center to relax between classes or to get work done. I then attend any classes I have for the day and head back to the student center for RAH. 

Rowan After Hours science night in 2019 where attendees made lava lamps.
A Rowan After Hours (RAH) Science Night where attendees made lava lamps

What is the best part about being a part of RAH?

The best part is definitely all the experiences you’re going to have. During my time as a member of RAH I have met so many amazing people whether it was co-workers or students attending our events. I even met my girlfriend while being a member of RAH. This experience has also led me to express myself and has taught me to put myself out there especially while being the introverted person I am.

What makes Rowan feel like home?

The people here. All the people that I have gotten to know over the years have made this campus feel like home for me. 

What are some of the activities that Rowan After Hours provides? 

Our most popular events are our bingo events. We always give great prizes out to the winners of our bingo events and I am actually in charge of the bingo events. We just gave out a 32 inch TV to the winner of the event.

We also do some cultural appreciation nights. We brainstorm a variety of different events and are always looking for ways to attract more people and different interests. 

When can students participate in RAH activities? Is there a calendar event list?

Our calendar event list is located on the Rowan After Hours ProfLink website. This provides all events for RAH and SUP (Student University Programmers.) The typical RAH events take place between Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights from 9 p.m. to midnight. 

If anyone is interested in joining RAH there is an opportunity to interview for a position next semester. More information is available on the RAH website as follows: https://sites.rowan.edu/scca/RAH/index.html

Jon Marcolongo working as an RAH coordinator at Saturday Night Lights football game on September 4th, 2021.
RAH Coordinator Jon Marcolongo at a Saturday Night Lights football game

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Story by:
Natalie DePersia, junior public relations major

Photos provided by:
Jon Marcolongo

Rowan Beekeeping Club Launches: A Q & A with President Michael Hoban

Today we introduce the newly-founded Beekeeping Club. We talk to Biological Sciences major Michael Hoban, club president, as he discusses what the Beekeeping Club is, what members will do on a daily basis and his personal responsibilities within the club. 

What is the Beekeeping Club? What is the goal of this club? What will members of this club do on a regular basis?

The Beekeeping Club is a club that values and encourages anyone and everyone to join! Members can be individuals who either know nothing about beekeeping or have heard about it and are interested in learning the practice of it.

Because winter is the off-season for beekeeping, the winter semester will be focused more so on learning about the practice and the importance of beekeeping. Within the spring semester, members will be able to actually go out to the bee hives and collect honey. The sole purpose of this club is education and being able to apply what you’ve learned to hands-on experience. 

Honey collected by students in the Social Insect Lab.
Honey collected by students in the Social Insect Lab

What is your personal role and responsibilities associated with the Beekeeping Club? How did you get involved with this?

Dr. Kruse created this club with the help of team members from her Social Insect Lab. During the summer, Dr. Kruse sat down with her student researchers and basically asked us if we would be interested in creating this Beekeeping Club. Because we have hives on campus, she thought it would be a good idea to introduce beekeeping to the entire Rowan community. 

Within this club I am the President; however, it is important to note that all members of this club have equally important roles. Instead of taking the lead, I love working with all the other members to collaborate and make decisions.

Students from the Social Insect Lab working with the honey extraction machine.
Students from the Social Insect Lab working with the electric honey extractor

What do you think your favorite part of this club will be? 

I am just excited to see everyone’s reaction when we actually step outside to the hives in our suits. A lot of individuals tend to be scared of bees, especially bees in big volume. However, I am excited to see the reactions of members when seeing a hive open for the first time right before their eyes.

Close up of the electric honey extractor machine.
A close-up view of the electric honey extractor machine

How can students, professors, and peers purchase the extracted honey collected by the Social Insect Lab? 

Right now we sell the honey at any club fairs we attend. However, we hope to have more fundraising events to sell our honey as this is our main source of profit which allows us to purchase more hives and build the club.

Honey available for purchase from the Social Insect Lab bee hives.
Honey available for purchase from the Social Insect Lab

What are your goals and aspirations for the future for this club? Do you have a passion for saving the bees? Do you aspire to spread awareness on saving the bees? 

I hope every member learns the importance of a honey bee. Yes, it is fun to do all of this and extract our own honey and work closely with hives, however, I hope if members learn anything, they learn why we created this club and how important bee conservation is. I also hope members help educate other members of the community that may not be in the club. It would be awesome if members teach others what they learn.

Students and members of Social Insect Lab displaying collaborative effort of extracting honey.
Students and members of Social Insect Lab display the collaborative effort of extracting honey.

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Story By:
Natalie DePersia, junior public relations major

Photos courtesy of: 
Michael Hoban and the Beekeeping Club

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Faculty PROFile: Molecular Biophysicist Dr. Nathaniel Nucci

Learn more about Dr. Nathaniel Nucci, associate professor and Biophysics coordinator within the Physics department at Rowan’s College of Science and Mathematics.

How long have you worked at Rowan?

I’ve worked at Rowan for seven years. This is my eighth year as a faculty member.

What is your area of expertise?

I’m a molecular biophysicist. That basically means that I study the physics of biological molecules. My main area of expertise is focused on understanding how the structures of proteins and the changes to those structures influence how proteins function. This is important because understanding how protein structures relate to function allows us to understand how living systems work, and by “work,” I mean that in the true physical sense.

Proteins are the molecules that do most of the work in our bodies, from moving our muscles to digesting our food to dictating how our tissues develop as we grow. Understanding how structure-function relationships can sometimes go wrong due to mutations or other factors is key to understanding the sources of most diseases. 

Dr. Nucci smiles inside his researvh lab.

What inspires you to continue teaching?

I LOVE the process of discovery that students go through in my classes. Helping them grow and broaden their worldview is incredibly fulfilling. Every one of my students leaves at the end of a semester with a different perspective than they had at the beginning of the semester, and with that expansion of knowledge and understanding comes power! Power to affect change in the world and power to pursue career paths that will help them be happy and fulfilled. At least, that’s what I aim for! 

What advice would you have for someone who is considering biophysics, but maybe doesn’t quite understand the field or what you can with the degree?

I came to Biophysics as a discipline because I was interested in living things. I thought they were fascinating (and still do!), and I wanted to understand how they work. While my biology and biochemistry/molecular biology courses helped me understand the parts and how they fit together, it wasn’t until I took a Biophysics course and saw the way the math helps quantitatively explain how life works that I found the level of understanding I was searching for.

So, to those considering the Biophysics major, I’d say … if you want to understand biological systems, living things (human or otherwise), or health-related problems and you like math, then the Biophysics major is the best of the bio-related majors at Rowan for you.

Dr. Nucci working in lab.

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

This is challenging because I’ve had so many! The first was when I read a book as an undergraduate called “Cells, Gels, and the Engines of Life.” It got me thinking about all of the components of cells, especially the ones that most scientists ignore.

But the biggest moment of amazement for me, I think, was when I saw a talk by Dr. Klaus Schulten at a Biophysical Society meeting about 10 years ago. In his talk, he presented computer simulations of an entire cell where the workings of all the molecules were visualized. This was an amazing achievement that required the efforts not only of his group but of the entire biophysics community because without the hundreds of researchers in the room having learned so much over the previous decades, the simulations would never have been possible.

That moment made me feel like our work was a part of a greater, and incredibly awesome, whole.  

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

It’s not at hard or as complicated as it sounds! When I tell people that I’m a biophysicist, they usually say something like “wow,” but my training is no different than anyone else’s. The work we do and our field in general is approachable and fun! It’s interdisciplinary, so we get to do lots of different things and focus on the problems we are interested in. It’s like an intellectual playground!

Dr. Nucci examines equipment in his lab.

Is there anything that I didn’t ask you about the Biophysics program that you’d like to share with incoming students?

I think it’s important for students to understand that our Biophysics majors get to bridge communities at Rowan. They are integrated in to the Physics department community, but they also get to build relationships with students and faculty in other majors across the college. That’s pretty unique, and it usually helps them have a pretty strong network by the time they graduate.  

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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 […]

In Case You Missed It: Favorite Classes At Rowan

Tell us a little about what the class is. IMC goes over all the parts to an integrated marketing communications plan, such as advertising, public relations, direct marketing, digital/internet marketing, sales promotion and personal selling. You really get to work a lot of different muscles within the communications industry. Is there anything else that made […]

Out-of-State Students’ Returning to Rowan Bucket List

Einstein Bagels storefront in Engineering Hall.

Many out-of-state students are coming to campus for the first time since COVID, while some were able to come to campus last year. Here are some things that out-of-state students are looking forward to when campus opens up a bit more this semester. 

Magdelyn Kelly is a senior Musical Theatre and Theatre Education major from Inwood, West Virginia. Magdelyn transferred to Rowan from Blue Ridge Community College. Magdelyn is a first-generation college student and an off-campus renter. She says she’s most looking forward to seeing all her peers and learning face to face again. When asked if there was someone she hasn’t seen in person since before Covid who she is very much looking forward to seeing on campus this fall, Magdelyn replied, “My voice teacher!” Magdelyn is involved with Campus Players and Rowan Lab Theatre, and she adds that Rowan Lab Theatre will be putting on some great shows this year. Magdelyn can’t wait to take part in Rowan After Hours (RAH) and Student University Programmers (SUP) events again, such as Bingo. She can’t wait to take senior pictures with her friends and hang out on campus on Bunce Green.

People hanging out on Bunce Green, as Magdelyn looks forward to.
Students hanging out on Bunce Green, as Magdelyn looks forward to.

Nick Kreuz, a senior Electrical and Computer Engineering major from Quakertown, Pennsylvania, is looking forward to working back in the labs with other students. Nick says, “I am looking forward most to going back to a campus that feels alive,” and he notes being on campus last year felt less warm and welcoming than it has been in the past. Some campus must-dos for him include activities put on by the Rec Center (where he will work as a Building Manager) and shows returning to the Planetarium. Nick is also looking forward to visiting Einstein’s Bagels in the mornings for coffee.

Nick poses in front of some trees.
Nick Kreuz

Petro Skrypnyk has never been to campus before, and he is excited to see the place he has been studying at for a year. Petro is a senior Computer Science major and commutes from his home in Philadelphia. Before attending Rowan, Petro transferred from Rowan College at Burlington County. Petro wants to get involved with Rowan’s Association for Computing Machinery and the Volleyball team. Petro is excited to earn his bachelor’s degree and meet up with people in between classes.

Philadelphia, where Petro is from.
Petro, of Philadelphia, is looking forward to the on-campus experience this semester.

Samuel Jolade, senior Computing and Informatics major from Deer Park, New York, is excited to come back to the Rowan campus after nearly two years. He can’t wait to get back into Gaming Club and visit the Game Room in the Student Center. Samuel hasn’t seen his friend Max and a few other friends since before COVID, and he is excited to see them. 

Samuel looks forward to hanging out in the game room like these guys are.
Samuel (not pictured) looks forward to hanging out in the Student Center’s Game Room.

Ashleigh Jankowski is a junior Biomedical Engineering major with a Chemistry minor from Catonsville, Maryland. Ashleigh is living off campus this semester. Ashleigh says while “virtual learning was a great way to proceed in learning while continuing to be socially distanced, nothing can replace the friendly, bustling campus atmosphere.” She is looking forward to taking classes that are major specific this year, and because most of them are engineering labs, hopefully having them in person! She is looking forward to Outdoors Club getting started again, as she is hoping to go on a few trips with them this semester. She’s also looking forward to RAH events like Bingo and SUP activities like Outdoor Movie Night. Ashleigh also can’t wait to hang out at Einstein’s Bagels again. 

Ashleigh poses in front of Rowan Hall.
Ashleigh Jankowski

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

Philadelphia photo courtesy of:
Pixabay

Why Psychology Major Leah Boyle Chose to Study Close to Home

Leah stands in front of a tree on Bunce Green.

Today we speak with Leah Boyle, who recently graduated with a degree in Psychology. Leah comes from Haddonfield, NJ in Camden County and is a first-generation college student. She had been an on-campus resident all four years and worked as an RA (Resident Assistant) for the LGBTQIA+ Learning Community in Holly Pointe for the last two years.

Why did you choose a university close to home? 

My sister went [to Rowan]. She’s a year older than me and she graduated last year. We are very, very close and when she went to Rowan, I knew that they had a great psychology program. We were roommates in Holly Pointe my freshman year. We had an apartment together with our friends. She’s one of my best friends. That was why I chose [Rowan] and it ended up being a great opportunity. Everything about it has been awesome. It was more for family. 

How do you carve out an identity for yourself if you are with a sibling in the same place? 

Shannon, my older sister, specifically was an Art major. She was working on that, and I became interested in the Social Justice office. [I] started working at the office of Social Justice Inclusion and Conflict Resolution (SJICR). I worked on their programming and it got me thinking about what we do for our queer students, which got me to becoming an RA. She ended up making a club for women in our arts programs (Women of Westby, W.O.W). I was able to get my residence to come to W.O.W. events and she was able to bring the arts to my residence. So we were able to connect a lot [that way]. She was really successful in her art. I was doing my psychology and social justice stuff. We started out the same but went in different directions.

Leah wears glasses and a Rowan t-shirt smiling in front of Bunce Hall.

Did you ever feel overshadowed by having a sibling here? 

Well, I’m not an artist! I didn’t really know much about how Shannon is such a good artist until I would meet with her in the art building. [We’d] go get food together, see her stuff and [witness] people talk about her and her art. She is an incredible oil painter. So I didn’t [feel] overshadowed because I don’t do a lot in the arts. I took an oil painting class last semester on Zoom and had to call her every day to get tips. We had our own things that we specialized in. It was good to see her grow in her art. She got a lot of involvement in social justice too.  

What was it like to live with your sister in a university location after living together for your whole life? 

It was much messier because we had bigger rooms now. We’ve shared a room since I was seven. I say everything that is hers is mine. She lives in Maryland now. It’s a lot more arguments about where things should be put, but it was great. My sophomore year we had an apartment with four other friends in university housing. It was really great because there’s no one you could be more honest with than your sister. I could say, “I can’t be around you right now.” I can be honest with my roommate because she is my sister.

Rowan was really accommodating to [me] living with a sophomore my freshman year. They had no problems and they were so happy for us. I’m happy we were able to do it because now she’s doing her own thing. I’m moving after this. I’m going to grad school at Montclair State University.

Leah chats with her friend Kevin on Bunce Green.

Do you have any other majors, minors or CUGs? 

I took Child Life courses at University of California Santa Barbara, where I study hospitalization. I’m going to Montclair State for Child Psychology. 

What is it like not living with your sister? 

In the beginning, it was kind of a bummer. I’m happy I didn’t have to go live with someone who wasn’t her. I got used to it. It’s a little far (I’m up near New York) so we make weekends to see each other. She calls me and I call her probably a little too much. It’s not so bad, we’re [still] in constant contact.

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Story by: 
Marian Suganob, public relations and advertising graduate

Photos by:
Stephanie Batista, junior music industry major

Alumni Success: Mitch McDaniels on Finding Your “WHY”

Mitch poses at the Holly Pointe Commons sign.

Today we speak with Mitch McDaniels, who graduated from the Honors Concentration with a degree in Biochemistry in 2020. Mitch also minored in German Studies throughout his time at Rowan University. He grew up in Hammonton, NJ (Atlantic County) but now lives in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Mitch was a Resident Assistant (RA) for three years and lived on campus for all four years. He was also actively involved in the Honors College, B.L.A.S.T. Mentoring, the Keck Behavioral Lab at Cooper Medical Schoolthe Academic Associate Program at Cooper University Hospital, Rho Alpha Sigma, and Alpha Epsilon Delta. He was also a volunteer at the Kitchen of Hope Food Bank (Glassboro), and a Chemistry Learning Assistant for four semesters.

What did being an RA and Assistant Resident Director (ARD) mean to you?

Res Life [meaning RLUH or working for Residential Learning and University Housing as an RA, ARD, graduate role, or professional role] is such a unique field and it’s such a diverse and unique group of people that come together to do so much more than just run a building. I absolutely loved it throughout my time at Rowan — the opportunity to be a part of flourishing communities of residents in their first year of college, and hopefully being that go-to guy for my residents for the good, bad and everything in between.

My experience through Res Life has definitely been one of my favorite memories at Rowan because I met so many new, and now lifelong, friends through it. I love when my residents come back and tell me how much fun they had their freshman year or a favorite memory they had from their year in our pod. A few even went on to go into Res Life themselves; it makes me so happy to hear that!

For me, it was really special to see the ways in which my communities grew together, and the ways they found to make a difference together. 

Mitch poses under the "Pork Chopper" statue in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Mitch poses by the “When Pigs Fly, Pork Chopper” Statue which is part of the Sculpture Walk in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

What advice do you have for current students?

I think every first year student should take a little bit of time to find what it is they want to do at Rowan, until they really find their “why,” both on campus and off. I’m still learning exactly what that is for me, honestly. No matter what you do, who you hang out with, or the classes you take, I’ve learned that it’s best to keep an open mind because those moments came when I was least expecting them.

My first year, I was really quite quiet, but I thought that being an RA would be a really unique way to meet people and be part of a community. Lots of people become hyper-focused on the free housing and food, which is pretty sweet, to be honest, but I also wanted to find a place to help in building that welcoming environment I found on campus. I often forget that I had a meal plan and free housing as an RA because I just enjoyed getting to meet everyone and get connected and involved in a way that was different from any other role on campus because their home also becomes yours. 

No matter what you do at Rowan, you really have to take the time to find your “why” [your purpose] at Rowan. There’s this proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” I really believe that Rowan’s spirit comes from that small-campus community, where friends, colleagues, and professors all have your back.

My best advice would be to enjoy college for the people and experiences you’re surrounded by — go together, not alone. I’ve found that the best way for me to get things done is when I’m passionate about it and that I want to see it through to the end, together. For me, the Res Life community was that “thing.”

Now stepping into the real world and getting off of the college campus, finding your “why” comes with the territory for everything you do.

Mitch poses confidently in front of a Sioux Falls sign.

Where do you work now?

Now, I work as a Clinical Research Coordinator at Sanford Health, a big hospital system in the Midwest, but mostly in the Dakotas and Minnesota. I’m on a team of four coordinators that are working on a portfolio of COVID studies. We have two different studies that we are mainly working on for the moment. One is for different treatments that focus on outpatient settings, where patients actively have COVID and are sick, but they’re not sick enough to be hospitalized. This study, sponsored by the National Institute of Health, is an Adaptive Platform Study, which means that we are evaluating multiple investigative treatments that can change from time to time, to quickly and safely identify medications that could significantly improve a patient’s COVID-19 diagnosis.

We’re also doing inpatient work with people who are in the ICU on ventilators, high flow oxygen or other life-saving measures to support them throughout their battle with COVID-19. It’s another adaptive platform study evaluating various medications for people suffering more severe COVID, and who have received advanced life-saving therapeutics or interventions to keep them alive or better support them.

I was always asking myself “why” because I wanted to pour all that I could into any activity I was doing. I didn’t want anything to be just a checkbox for my resume. It really needed to be something that I cared about and believed in.

Part of my “why” for medicine is that I want to be a resource for people wherever I go. That’s something I saw in my family with my father being an FBI agent. I want to be able to carry my skills into underserved areas at some point in my career and make a difference within those communities.  

Mitch wears a light blue shirt and stands in front of a waterfall.
Mitch loves the famous Falls Park in his new hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

What do you hope to do in the medical field?

It really hit when I had the chance to really immerse myself in the Camden community through Cooper, first as a student at MEDacademy at Cooper Medical School, and later as an Academic Associate at Cooper University Hospital. I really began to see that a physician doesn’t work in a bubble, they are someone who’s active and embedded within the community that they are trusted to serve. Ever since, I saw medicine as an opportunity to expand upon the skills, mindset and joy that Res Life has brought me, to help better build a community.

Of course, Rowan has always supported and nourished my curiosity for science and the human body; it’s also helped me to find my voice in leadership. But what my time at Rowan and Cooper has gifted me with has been the opportunity to think, grow excited and imagine how I wanted to give back to the community at the intersection of science, leadership, education, research and policy. 

Part of my “why” for medicine is that I want to be a resource for all people wherever I may go. That’s something I saw, and valued, in my family with my father being a Special Agent in the Federal Bureau of Investigation. I hope to be able to carry my skills into communities (especially those underserved) throughout southern New Jersey, our nation, and the world throughout my career and in hopes of making a difference within those communities by empowering the people of those communities through all I learn from them. No matter what field of medicine I pursue, there’s nothing more important to me than to help these communities I hope to serve to thrive and grow.

A gorgeous blue and orange sunset shines above a majestic waterfall in Minnesota.
Mitch captured the beauty of Falls Park with just his phone.

Tell me about your favorite memory from Res Life? 

My favorite moments were those that were unscripted where I would just hang out with my residents on a random Tuesday night in a hallway or lounge of Holly Pointe. We would have the best conversations! I would always leave my door open because I wanted people to be able to walk in and just sit down. I wanted them to know my room was theirs too, and that it was a safe space where they could unwind, have fun, or talk anything over. The most organic moments were the times when I felt true friendship forming between myself and my residents, and it was not any longer just me “supervising” their freshman experience.

One of my favorite memories in these communities as an RA and an ARD was bringing my residents to the food pantry. I really loved the idea of getting into the Glassboro Community and all of us volunteering together and seeing the ripple our pod could make in the greater community. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the awesome staffs I worked with throughout my three years in Res Life. I couldn’t think of a better group of people to program with, spend time with, or occasionally deal with those 3 a.m. fire alarms. Those unscripted moments, with my residents and RAs alike, made every moment worth it. I owe it to them for helping me to find my why throughout undergrad. 

Waterfalls and tower in Sioux Falls, Minnesota
Another gorgeous sunset by the Queen Bee Mill in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

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Story by: 
Marian Suganob, public relations and advertising graduate

Photos courtesy of:
Mitch McDaniels, biochemistry graduate

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Profs Abroad: Stephanie in Paris (and Other Parts of France)

Stephanie wears glasses and a red beret smiling at the camera with a green forest in the background.

Today we speak with Stephanie Ibe, who graduated in the Spring of 2020 and majored in Biological Sciences with a minor in French and an Honors and Pre-med concentration. Stephanie stayed in Le Havre, France for seven months while working as a teaching assistant through the TAPIF Program. Stephanie comes from Franklin Park, NJ in Somerset County. She was involved in MAPS (Minority Association of Premedical Students), Res Life as an RA/ARD, research labs, tutoring, RUPAC (Rowan University Philippine American Coalition), Alpha Epsilon Delta (AED – Premed Honors Society), University Chorus, and mentoring through the Dr. Harley E. Flack program.

What happened after you arrived in France?

After I arrived, I had to go through all these different transportation modes to go from Paris to Le Havre and my phone wasn’t working! I had to navigate the entire thing just by talking to people and from reading signs. I don’t know how I ended up making it to Le Havre. It was raining, too. It was a bit of a shock to just be thrown in and use [only] French right away. 

I had a Prof Référente (Referent Teacher) with whom I could communicate through Facebook. She was so helpful. She helped me find my place to stay because the high school that I worked at didn’t have housing available for me. So she asked another high school nearby if I can stay there and it ended up working out. She picked me up from the train station once I arrived. She gave me bed sheets and a week’s worth of groceries. I was lucky to have good support over there.

Picture of “La Funiculaire” (little train Stephanie had to take to get up to her apartment). It is about 5 feet wide and maybe 6 feet tall with paintings of flowers on the side.
“La Funiculaire” (little train) Stephanie had to take to get up to her apartment.

Was it scary having to talk in French to French people? 

I was honestly really scared when I first arrived because it wasn’t the same as “classroom French.” I’ve never studied abroad before, so I never knew what it was like to actually speak French in France. I went to France once when I was in high school, but I always had my teachers there to help us. This time, I was by myself. I had to use my French, especially when I had to explain things to my students. Sometimes they didn’t understand what I was saying in English, so I would have to translate in French.

You get used to it after a while. There’s a lot of slang I need to learn as well as very technical vocabulary. I had to open a bank account in France and I didn’t know any banking vocabulary, so it was a bit difficult. I also observed the biology lab classes in one of the high schools. Even small things, like DNA, were switched. It was ADN.

Stephanie wears a red beret in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.

Your brain automatically switches to your second language after being immersed in it for a while. It’s also easier to learn different languages when you are able to see the connections between languages. When I was there, I tried to practice my Spanish with the Spanish assistants. It’s a lot easier when you’re talking to someone that’s native to that language. They can tell when I am making a mistake and they don’t feel shy to correct me and give me feedback because they are teachers. It’s what they do. 

What other countries were your fellow assistants from?

I met assistants from Spain, Germany, England, Northern Ireland, Los Angeles, Colorado, New York, Kenya, Russia and Jordan.

Stephanie and the other TAPIF assistant poses by a giant building in Normandy, France.
Stephanie (bottom, right) at Le Mont Saint Michel in Normandy

What was your favorite memory (outside of being a teaching assistant)?                 

Spending all of my time with the assistants because that’s all we really had. Everything was closed after one week of me being there. We didn’t have museums or restaurants to go to. All we had was each other. I was lucky to live right next to the beach, so I had a lot of beach days. It was only a 20-minute walk to the beach. Having that space to get out, explore new places, and take my beach days were fun.

Fancy French food on a white plate prepared by a culinary student in France.
Meals from the student restaurant

I worked 12 hours a week, 5 days a week, a few hours each weekday. In France, they start school at 8 a.m. and finish at 5:20 p.m. They get two 15-minute breaks as well as an hour and 20 minutes for a lunch break. They can do whatever they want during their break, like walk around town and eat anywhere. A lot of my students would go home and eat lunch. They also take the public bus to school, not a singular school bus.

Fancy French dessert on a white plate prepared by a culinary student in France.
Dessert from the student restaurant

What was your favorite meal in France?

I ate a lot of vegan food because most of [the assistants] were either vegan or vegetarian. I really liked it because I never knew you could do so much with such little ingredients because the vegan diet is so restricted. They can’t eat any meat or dairy, or even honey. But, you can do so much with spice. We would always have potluck dinners. Also, the food at my high school was so fancy because [the students] are training to be proper chefs. They would practice making fancy French desserts and sophisticated dishes. French school meals are also very balanced and affordable.

Photo of French school lunch showing a well-balanced and delicious meal.
School lunch in Le Havre, France

What was the most interesting thing you learned about France?

I guess, how welcoming everyone was! I watched Emily in Paris right before I left and I had this idea in my head. “I’m going to be all by myself and they’re going to shoo me away because I’m American.” But no, everyone was so welcoming! When you’re walking down the street, everyone says “Hello, how are you?” Even though you’re complete strangers. When I first got back, I wanted to have a conversation with my cashier like in France.

Stephanie plays a ukelele while sitting on a beach in Le Havre, France.
Stephanie plays the ukulele at a beach in Le Havre

What was your favorite souvenir?

My favorite souvenir was a ukulele. I had to get rid of a lot of clothes and a pair of shoes to fit the ukulele! I only came with one suitcase, one carry-on, and one backpack. I ended up leaving a lot of shirts. I traded with other assistants. For example, I gave some of my Rowan shirts. I traded them for a Spanish white sweatshirt from Granada as well as a Spanish jean jacket. I also bought real lavender. It is really cool because it keeps its scent for a really long time. It made my luggage smell amazing!

Is there anything else you’d like to tell me about your time in France?

The overall experience made me think about how it felt like to be a foreigner in another country, which is something that a lot of us have not experienced. It made me really think about how it might have felt for my mom who came from the Philippines to the U.S.

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Story by: 
Marian Suganob, public relations and advertising graduate

Photos by:
Stephanie Batista, junior music industry major and Stephanie Ibe, biological sciences graduate

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Rowan Emergency Medical Services: Student Leadership [VIDEO]

Exterior shot of Rowan EMS headquarters.

“Anyone is able to join Rowan EMS, you don’t have to be a specific year. Just anyone that has interest we will get you in,” says Luke Heisler, the captain at Rowan EMS, and a Biological Sciences major. Catch a glimpse into the life of Luke who works in the field with Rowan EMS.

Learn more about clubs and activities at Rowan here

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Video by:
Joshua Hedum, Radio/TV/Film graduate

My Favorite Class: Animation

Kevin in front of Bunce Arch

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

Today we speak with Kevin Clee, a recent Computer Science graduate from Voorhees, NJ (Camden County) who shares with us some of his favorite classes within the Computer Science department.

What was your favorite class at Rowan?

I took Animation, just for fun. It was a lot of math, which I didn’t expect. I took it because I thought it would be cool, but I had no idea it was under Computer Science, which worked out for me. 

Kevin smiling on Bunce Green.

Who taught the course when you took it?

Dr. Bo Sun

Could you tell us a little bit about the course?

The first half of the semester is using Java to give motion to shapes. The second half of the semester we used Blendr, which is a 3D modeling and animating software. We’d make animals and make them move around and walk. 

What was the coolest thing you’ve made in that class?

There was one project that dealt with programming. We’d make a UFO with a beam going down, and when it went over certain objects, they’d go up into the UFO.

Kevin in front of greenery with Bunce Hall in the background.

Was there anything about this class that made it impactful to you?

I always wanted to know how to use Blendr, so I learned that software. 

Was the professor outstanding or did the professor make the class great?

Yes, the professor is very friendly. I [had] her again for another class. It’s called Data Visualization, it’s like a cross between business and computer science.

Kevin wearing sunglasses outside near Bunce Green.

What are your professional goals?

I will be working as a software developer associate at ASRC Federal. I was very lucky because I worked with them in my sophomore engineering class. The way the class was set up, it was almost an internship. They had a project in mind and what they specifically wanted and tasked us to create it and check in and give us pointers about it during the process. At the end of the semester, they had said to keep in touch and when I emailed them they really pulled through and I was able to get a job. But I’d like to do something with data analytics in the future, since that’s my focus.

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

Photos by:
Stephanie Batista, sophomore music industry major

#PROFspective: JT Kurtz, Inspiring ARD & Genuine Friend

JT stands confidently in front of Bunce Hall.

Today we speak with JT Kurtz, a recent Computer Science graduate from Egg Harbor Township (Atlantic County). JT is a first-generation college student and worked as an Assistant Resident Director (ARD) on campus, most recently at 223 Nexus.

How did you like living on campus? 

I loved it! I was a Resident Assistant (RA) in Chestnut Hall last year and Magnolia Hall the year before. It’s a complete 180 from working in traditional living to living in new apartments. I remember as a freshman, those apartments were not even there. 

In your three years of being the go-to person as an RA and ARD, what is your advice for people who are living in dorms?  

My advice is to not be afraid to make connections. Being the RA/ARD, I’m the middle person to connect people with programs or on-campus resources. We’re there for people when they ask, “Hey, what should I do?” Whether they’re stressed out, bored, or if they need help, RAs and ARDs know it all. For anybody — whether you’re new, a transfer, or have been here for two years — RAs and ARDs will always be there for you. We will definitely guide you to somebody that can help you. For me, being in that department, I have met so many of my closest friends who have helped him with making connections (from talking to people in the PR department to the admissions department). 

What does being an RA mean to you? 

In my eyes, the RA position isn’t so much about following the rules. I know a lot of people tend to put a label on RAs as “rule-enforcers” but that’s not the case. We’re here to make sure you’re safe and that you’re having a good time at the same time. There are rules made for a reason, not just to ruin the fun. We understand that we’re in a college atmosphere. We empathize with a lot of people.

JT leans against a tree reminiscing on Bunce Green.

The way we shift that empathy is by encouraging them and saying, “Hey, here’s a safer, smarter alternative way to approach something.” Whether that’s academics, [social life] or mental health. For example, if somebody’s stressed out they may not go to class. I’ll go to them and say, “Let’s get to the root of this and make a plan of action and then turn it around.” Rather than just saying, “Hey go over here” [and leave them to figure it alone]. We try to connect with them at a deeper level. We have rules, but we have them for a reason, making sure that everyone is having fun and staying safe at the same time. 

What are some of your favorite memories from being an RA? 

Some of my favorite memories (prior to Covid) are the times I’ve been able to hang out with all of my staff members. Whether it’s just getting food, pinging ideas off each other, or just doing homework, or duty nights and handling incidents. The big theme of this experience was that you’re never alone. Even in a virtual setting, we still managed to find ways to really be connected. Sometimes we would just hop on a Zoom call and have a conversation.

What is the difference between being an RA and an ARD? 

Now, I’m like a team captain of the RAs. I had to figure out how to keep my staff engaged and doing their responsibilities. At the same time, I’m recognizing that my staff are still people at heart and still need to balance their lives. My thing is music, I made a Spotify playlist that everyone can contribute to and everyone loves it. They can see all of their diverse backgrounds. There are so many stories I can go on about being an RA.

I’ve met so many influential people, from my supervisors to staff members and my residents. My residents last year always went to me, even for the most random things. At the same time, my residents had no problem referring themselves and their friends to me. I’m there for them.

JT poses on Bunce Hall green in a Rowan sweater.

How do you handle that responsibility as a fellow undergraduate student? 

I handle the responsibility of taking care of fellow students through time management, balancing classes, time for myself, and time for others. The department has so many people you can lean on, your staff or supervisors. If you don’t know what to do or if you need more time on something, communication is absolutely a pinnacle skill for this kind of role because that will help you succeed.

How did you become an RA? 

In my first year, I lived in Holly Pointe. My RA at the time, Mitch McDaniels, who graduated last year, was a fantastic person. He was really engaged with the residents. He kept it down to earth. He didn’t come off as a policy enforcer but we all respected him. He inspired me.

I had personal roommate issues (I roomed with my best friend). Mitch managed to smooth it out and now my best friend and I are still best friends. From that moment, I knew that [being an RA] was a leadership position. If I could help one person a day, that makes it so worth it.

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Story by:
Marian Suganob, public relations and advertising graduate

Photos by:
Stephanie Batista, junior music industry major

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

Stephanie sits at the Giant Prof statue on campus while wearing a custom stole showing the Filipino and French flags.

Today we speak with Stephanie Ibe, a 2020 graduate who majored in Biological Sciences with a minor in French and Honors and Pre-med concentrations. Stephanie stayed in Le Havre, France for seven months while working as a teaching assistant through the TAPIF Program. Stephanie comes from Franklin Park, NJ in Somerset County. She was involved in MAPS (Minority Association of Premedical Students), Res Life as an RA/ARD, research, tutoring, RUPAC (Rowan University Philippine American Coalition), Alpha Epsilon Delta (AED – Premed Honors Society), University Chorus, and mentoring through the Dr. Harley E. Flack program.

What is the name of this program? 

It’s called TAPIF, which stands for Teaching Assistant Program In France and it’s through the French Ministry of Education. TAPIF was recommended to me by my French teacher, Dr. Maria Hernandez, a former Fulbright Program alumna.

What part of France were you mainly based in? 

Normandy! It has a mix of everything. It’s in the northwest of France. You can find suburbs, cities, small towns, beaches, cliffs and the countryside. It’s about two hours away from Paris. You could take a bus to Paris from Normandy for as low as eight euros (about $9). When we traveled to the south of France, we took a train ride from Normandy that took about six hours.

Stephanie poses in a gorgeous, tiny street in the French city of Marseilles.
Marseilles

My base city is really special. It’s called Le Havre. It is an urban city with a beach and a port. It is located right next to Sainte-Adresse, where Claude Monet created many of his paintings. What happened in Le Havre is that during the World War II bombings, the entire city was destroyed. The city was rebuilt not too long ago. It was rebuilt by Auguste Perret between 1945 and 1964, so Le Havre looks completely different from other typical French cities. The buildings are a little bit newer and more modern. They are boxier and made of concrete.

How many people again were in your program in France? 

According to the website, about 1,100 people participated in it and in my city there were 13 assistants.

How close did you live near each other? 

We were all within about 20 minutes of each other, whether by bus, tram or walking. Public transportation is really important in France so we all had our own public transportation card which was pretty affordable. I only had to pay 25 euros a month. It made transportation really easy. Most of us were within the city center, so it was very easy to walk to each other’s apartments.

Stephanie wears a dark red winter hat to the cold beach in Le Havre, France.
Beach of Le Havre

Could you describe what it was like going from graduation to the pandemic to going to France? 

It was such a stressful experience. From the time I graduated to the time I was actually on the plane to France, I didn’t know if I would still be doing the program. We didn’t get our acceptance letters until the end of June, because of Covid delays, and our actual placements until the end of July. And even though we got our acceptance letters, we still weren’t sure if we could leave the country because of the pandemic. The visa center did not open until mid-September. They were not accepting applications to apply for a visa until mid-September, and I had to be in France by mid-October. After I was able to schedule my appointment time for the visa center it took a little bit of time for my visa to process. I got my visa about one week before I had my flight to France. 

Even after I got my visa, I had a lot of other things to do before my flight to France. I had to get a background check, my fingerprints scanned, and I had to get my COVID test done 72 hours before boarding. Until I was on the flight, it was stressful, but I made it! Thankfully, it was a lot easier to come back to the US.

Stephanie poses under a transportation sign in Bordeux, France with a reflective structure in the background.
Bordeux

What did you do as a teaching assistant?

I taught English and American culture. I taught at two different high schools. One was a hotel and service trade school, where they taught things like culinary, restaurant service. All of the classes I taught for that school were centered around things like food and drinks, holidays and traditions, nutrition, and service dialogues. The other high school I taught at was a technical and professional high school, where they have programs for Biotechnology, Health, and Social Science. I got to talk a lot about things I was passionate about like U.S. healthcare, our education system, civil rights, nutrition, designing experiments, ethics, biotechnology, and general American culture and traditions. 

I incorporated a lot of things they were interested in learning about. I would do different kinds of presentations and activities about American culture. I helped them prepare for their oral presentations and would give them feedback.

Did you get to decide that or was there a guideline from TAPIF?                

When you’re filling out your application, you get to check off a few boxes about your background. I majored in biology and I did bench and clinical research, so that’s what I included in my application.

I think TAPIF also tries to decide your placement based on your hobbies. For example, I put on my application that I really enjoy cooking so they placed me in a school with a culinary program. For the most part, they put you where they think you’d fit in best and what high school you are able to give the most to.

Stephanie sits on a wall overlooking the whole city of Marseilles, France.
Marseille from Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde

What was your favorite memory as a teaching assistant?                             

I really liked getting to know all of my students and seeing their growth from when I first began teaching to the end. I remember when I first met them, they were so shy and scared to speak to me. By the end of the program, they were so excited to speak in class and we were able to have a lot of fun conversations together.

I loved being able to actually talk to them about what they’re interested in and seeing them build their confidence in being able to speak English. I had them pick what topics they’d be interested in learning. I really liked that because they also had a lot to teach me in return, through our discussions. I would always ask them about things like what kind of music, shows, food, stores, and activities they like. It was like an inside scoop to their culture.

Stephanie poses happily while holding a Rowan umbrella in the air in France.
Vieille Ville (Bordeaux)

How did Rowan’s French program help prepare you for this experience?

I loved how small Rowan’s French program was. I had a lot more opportunities to practice speaking with the students in my class because there were only five or six students. There’s also more one-on-one help from your professors.

The support I got from the faculty was huge. I wouldn’t have gotten the position if it wasn’t for Dr. Hernandez. She encouraged me to pursue the French minor and apply to the program. In the beginning, I was debating on whether or not I should go to France because I am also applying to medical school. Dr. Hernandez walked me through the pros and cons of going to France in the midst of a pandemic. Eventually, I made my decision to go based on the idea that I’ll never get to experience and learn about France the way I did in those seven months. It truly would’ve been an opportunity of a lifetime.

Stephanie wears a custom stole with the Filipino and French flags on the sunny and green Rowan campus near Bunce Hall.

In the end, I was honestly so thankful that I went this year. Even though everything was closed the entire time I was there, I don’t think I would have built such a strong bond with all the other assistants if everything was open. We would have each been doing our own thing. Being able to experience big cities like Paris with fewer people on the streets was also really cool.

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Story by: 
Marian Suganob, public relations and advertising graduate

Photos by:
Stephanie Batista, junior music industry major

and Stephanie Ibe, biological sciences graduate

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Beyond the Classroom: Idea Challenge Winner, Steminist Squad Founder Talia Tomarchio

The Steminist Squad leader and volunteers pose in front of Business Hall.

Today we speak to Talia Tomarchio, a recent graduate with a degree in computer science, a minor in neuroscience and an honors concentration. Talia is a transfer student from Rowan College at Burlington County and a first-generation college student. Talia founded the Steminist Squad, an online community for women in STEM industries. Her business won first place at both Rowan’s 2020 Idea Challenge and the 2021 Rohrer New Venture Competition and was a semi-finalist in KPMG’s Ideation Challenge. 

Talia poses on the bridge behind Wilson Hall.

What kinds of career-related opportunities have you had beyond the classroom? 

I performed research with Dr. Anthony Breitzman (from the Dept. of Computer Science) this semester on analyzing Myers–Briggs personality types through Twitter tweets. I was planning on getting an internship last summer, which would be my first summer at Rowan. I applied for research for undergraduates (REUS) through the National Science Foundation, but because of COVID-19, all the opportunities I applied to got canceled. I reached out to Dr. Breitzman, and he allowed me to do research with him! We started our research over the summer, and we continued it through the fall. I also founded an online community for girls in STEM called Steminist Squad. 

Can you tell me more about the community? 

It started out as an online chat server on Discord where girls can talk about their major, post internships they found, share resources and help each other with homework. It has now grown into a professional development resource and supportive community of like-minded individuals. We also have an inspirational social media presence and a podcast that is coming soon. 

The Steminist Squad walks to Business Hall.

How did you come up with Steminist Squad? 

After coronavirus broke out and closed campus last spring, I was taking a few courses in the summer and realized the impact that online learning had on me as a student. I felt disconnected and missed the campus environment, and I’m sure that I wasn’t alone. That feeling inspired me to create a community to connect women from different colleges and communities, and that was the start of the journey to what is now Steminist Squad! 

What was your experience like entering the Squad in idea challenges and competitions? 

It boosted my confidence by practicing my pitch so many times! I met so many new people and learned a lot from the mentors and teachers. I also gained valuable insight on how to pivot the business direction to reach more women and help them. 

What knowledge or skills have you developed through The Idea Challenge and New Venture Competition that you will take with you for future endeavors? 

There are a few major takeaways that I learned from these experiences. I learned the basics of entrepreneurship, like business models, customer discovery and financials. I developed teamwork skills by leading a team of volunteers for two semesters, and my presentation skills have [dramatically] improved. 

The Steminist Squad sits in Business Hall.

Has there been anyone from Rowan that helped you start and keep this community going?

Jessica Vankawala, a junior Biomedical Engineering major in a PreMed program with Cooper Medical School, and Kayleigh Ostberg, a junior Bioinformatics major, have been essential volunteers from the Bantivoglio Honors College. Kadie Davis, a Biomedical Engineering major with a Chemistry minor, also volunteered in the Spring 2021 semester. 

Tapan Soni, once my cybersecurity teaching assistant and now a professional cybersecurity analyst, is an active and vital member of our online server. With the support of Dr. Kristen diNovi and Dr. Susana Santos [featured here], and guidance from Dr. Eric Liguroi [featured here] and Brandon Graham [featured here], I was able to transform this from an idea to reality. 

How do you feel you are helping others with the Steminist Squad? 

Being a first-generation student, I often think about the other girls who don’t have the support or confidence in themselves to be successful in school or in life. So, I feel like a part of me understands what they are going through and wants to give them a way to feel included and supported. If it doesn’t get any bigger than this and I end up helping one girl gain confidence in what she is capable of, I will be happy. 

The Steminist Squad sits in front of Business Hall.
Talia (second from left) with Squad members Jessica Vankawala, Kayleigh Ostberg and Kadie Davis.

What are your future plans for the Steminist Squad, now that you have graduated?

I am planning on taking this summer to grow Steminist Squad. I was accepted into the Rowan Center of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Summer Accelerator program, also known as StartupRU, where I will further develop my startup with the help of mentors and resources. I hope to have a fully functioning model by the end of the summer so I can start recruiting more Squad members for next semester!

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Story by:
Rachel Rumsby, junior communication studies and public relations double major, and Talia Tomarchio, computer science graduate

Photos by:
Rachel Rumsby, junior communication studies and public relations double major

Header photo:
Talia (second from left) with Steminist Squad members Jessica Vankawala, Kayleigh Ostberg and Kadie Davis

Meet #Rowan2025: Biological Sciences Major Lauren Kliniewski

A Rowan student works in a lab.

Meet incoming first year student Lauren Kliniewski! Lauren is a first-generation college student and aspiring Biological Sciences major from Sewell, NJ (Gloucester County). She tells us more about what she’s looking forward to at Rowan! Welcome to Rowan! Could you share with us one thing you are looking forward in college? Furthering my education and […]

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

International Student Shares Why Rowan

Femme in front of Bunce Hall

Oluwafemi Sonubi is a senior international student from Nigeria majoring in Computer Science who became interested in Rowan for swimming.

How did you hear about Rowan’s swim team? 

A recruiter from Nigeria was helping me look at schools. I was going to either go to England, Canada or here. I applied to about 30 different schools. Rowan was the second offer I received, and after that I started traveling and looking at all the schools.

I was bullied a lot in high school and so England was out of the question for me because that’s where all my bullies were. I wanted to start fresh, and Rowan has given me the tranquility that I wanted and needed to focus. 

How do you like New Jersey?

New Jersey has been an experience. Meeting [my friend] Josh and everyone around me, the culture, the music. The different diversities and generations of history, it’s beautiful. I actually went to the Glass Museum, and it was so fun. World history never used to excite me, but history of regular things does.

Oluwafemi posing in front of Bunce Hall

What are your plans after graduation? Are you graduating now?

No, I’m staying an extra year because I want to add on a business minor. My dad convinced me to because I’m a big numbers person. After graduation I plan on focusing on my music more. Music has been my escape, whether I’m happy or sad or emotional I’ve put it all out through music or art. I produce, draw and DJ. 

Do you plan on staying in New Jersey?

I want to stay in New Jersey for a while. 

How have you felt supported on campus? How did you acclimate to being in a new country?

The first thing was the African Student Association on campus. That was the first place I found people who understood my background and culture and helped me acclimate out of it and how to get adjusted and be myself.

Willow giving paw to Oluwafemi on Bunce Green

How did you end up with Willow?

My roommate actually. He wanted to get a dog and so one day there was a dog in the house. Because he works so much, I take care of her more. I plan on buying her from him at the end of the year. She runs about 2-3 miles a day.

What’s the worst food you’ve had in New Jersey?

That’s an interesting question because I do go out to eat a lot. I don’t think I’ve had bad food. The best food, I tried the cheesecake milkshake at Wawa. That was an experience for me because I’ve never had it before.

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

Photography by: 
Stephanie Batista, sophomore music industry major

#PROFPRIDE: Leah Boyle, RA for the LGBTQIA+ Learning Community

Leah smiles in front of Bunce Hall while wearing a gray Rowan shirt and glasses.

Today we speak with Leah Boyle, who graduated this May with a degree in Psychology. Leah comes from Haddonfield, NJ in Camden County and is a first-generation college student. She has been an on-campus resident all four years and worked as an RA (Resident Assistant) for the LGBTQIA+ Learning Community in Holly Pointe for the last two years.

What has it been like being an RA?

It’s been so good. I love everything about it. I’ve gotten so many opportunities through it. I am the RA for the LGBTQIA+ Learning Community. I make programs and oversee all of our students as they transition into Rowan. 

Is there a moment that stands out to you as particularly meaningful being the RA of this pod? 

Making programs [focused] on helping people introduce themselves and finding footing in a completely safe space for the first time has been the most impactful to me. Just having people refer friends to me if they have questions. Knowing that I myself am a resource has been my favorite thing about it. 

Do you get a lot of first years? 

Yes, it’s only first-years. I’m so happy I was able to do it. It’s been the happiest job I’ve had. It’s been so positive and a great environment.

Can you tell me more about the programming that you’ve offered? 

Because of Covid, it’s a little bit different. This semester I taught American Sign Language every month on Zoom. Last year I did Coming Out parties and LGBTQIA+ History Trivia Nights (showing the names and faces of people who are really important to our history). We have certain events for people who were celebrating their one-year anniversary since transitioning. It was so great, we had so much fun.

It’s a little different with Covid. I had a Diversity Movie Club, where everyone would watch the movie on their own time and then we would get together later on and discuss whether it was reflective of our experiences. It’s more flexible, but last year I had a lot more [spontaneous yet purposeful] events.

Leah puts a hand on her hip while standing under the Rowan arch.

What feedback have you gotten from residents in comparing this community to where they originally come from? 

I’ve had people tell me that this is the first time that they have had people refer to them by the name that they always wanted to be referred to by. [I’ve been told], “You’re the first person to ask me what my pronouns are and if I’m comfortable” or “I was nervous about my roommate but because I’m part of the LGBTQIA+ Learning Community, we’ve had the same experiences and I feel validated.” It’s so important that we have this space for people to meet other people. They all go off and join clubs together and lead together through Rowan. Having people show up to events that don’t even live in my pod and knowing more people around campus is so great. This has been great too. If people are happy within the community, it will continue to grow and grow. 

When you talk about your job with people who are not directly part of the campus community, such as parents or relatives, do they embrace it or do you find yourself having to explain its importance? 

One of my favorite things about coming to college has been that everyone comes from a different understanding of the community. It’s a bit confusing for people who are older than me or don’t really understand [why] I work specifically with this community. [It] also means that sometimes my job is more difficult than the people who live in neighboring pods because it comes with more difficult conversations. Sometimes I have to explain that, “Yeah, I have fun programs but sometimes it can be really intense.” 

It’s a bit different from a typical resident assistant but a lot of times my friends would always want to show up to these events, meet people, and get people involved. I think it’s important to talk about it and learning communities at Rowan are so important. They’re really, really successful. I hope that the more we talk about it, maybe we could have learning communities in one or two other buildings. I like to spread the good word and let people know it’s a really great space.

Leah and Kevin stand under the arch together.

Have you ever encountered any hate towards you as being the RA or towards people who live in your pod?

I think with having a diverse community living in a space, people can make the decision to come through and be judgmental or defacing property. In those situations, we have a lot of things in place to make sure that students are feeling supported. It’s not very common. I’ve been in this position for two years and very few times have I had to sit down with someone and say “Let’s talk about why you’ve done this thing.” 

It doesn’t really happen that often. A lot of the time we get people who didn’t sign up for it but they’re really just happy at the end of the experience because they were able to learn. I’ve had a lot of people grow and learn more. It helps not only our community but the people around us. Yes, we’ve had situations where people have not been accepting, but Rowan has a very strict policy for any of that behavior. It’s always been taken care of. 

For people coming into the university, do they have to share who they are to be able to qualify for this pod in terms of identifiers? 

We don’t want anyone to feel like they have to out themselves to their family or friends when they’re coming to Rowan. So, what they can do is when they sign up for housing there will be boxes of all of our learning communities. You can select that you want to be with first-gen people or social justice people. Then you can have information sent to your personal email about the LGBTQIA+ community and find out if you were able to be placed. 

I don’t get a list of [how] people identify. You can join if you’d like to and it’s not shared with a lot of different people. So I go into my job [thinking] that maybe this person signed up or maybe they didn’t. It’s more of an educational experience. A lot of people will come in letting me know that they’re so excited and share their past experiences. This year is different because we have different numbers than usual. I have people who don’t identify as LGBTQIA+. They have the complete same housing experience as everybody else. They just get more resources. It’s a win-win.

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Story by: 
Marian Suganob, public relations and advertising graduate

Photos by:
Stephanie Batista, junior music industry major

Meet Transfer Profs: Biology Major Stephanie Berdugo-Hernandez

Today we feature incoming transfer and first-generation college student Stephanie Berdugo-Hernandez from Rowan College at Burlington County. Stephanie will be commuting from Eastampton, NJ (Burlington County) and studying Biological Sciences. Welcome to Rowan! Could you share with us one thing you are looking forward at Rowan University? I am looking forward to continuing my education […]

Senior Reflects: Donald Ivy Jr. Shares How Rowan Supported His Career Aspirations

DJ standing under Engineering Building

Donald “DJ” Ivy Jr. recently graduated from Rowan University in December 2020 with his bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. He is from Browns Mills, NJ (Burlington County) and transferred from Rowan College at Burlington County.

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

One of my favorite classes that I would tell anyone to take is Computer Lab Techniques. It’s a class anyone can take because it teaches you all the ins and outs of shortcuts on the computer. We’re required to take it as Computer Science majors, but I think it’s a more universal class for anybody who wants to learn more about computers. We learned directories and even how to program a clock, like the ones found in microwaves. 

Could you please share your favorite social memory?

I made a lot of friends in Robinson, specifically in the computer lab. When I transferred to Rowan, I was already a junior and knew that there were already established friend groups made with people who have been here since freshman year. I’m a pretty shy person, so it took me a couple months; but once I opened up, my friends and I started going to the events at the Student Center. In high school and community college, I didn’t know a lot of Computer Science majors, so it’s been so cool meeting so many new people with the same major as me. 

DJ sitting on a bench outside Robinson Hall

What are your career aspirations?

I was fortunate enough to find a job right after college. I’m currently working at McKesson, we’re a pharmaceutical distribution company, but I want to do more. I want to work for a bigger company or maybe try and do a start-up, but that I need the experience first, I can’t just make a business out of nowhere. I have thought about coming back to Rowan to get an engineering degree. Computer science deals a lot with the software of computers and applications, and I want to be more well-rounded and involved in what the computers actually do and would want to know how to fix a computer if it ever breaks. 

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

My advisor, Mike Schillo, was a really big part of getting me on the right path and figuring out what I wanted to do within my major. There are a lot of computer science classes that all count towards graduation, but if you wanted to specialize in something specific they have a lot of different avenues you could take. 

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

I want to thank my parents and shout out to two friends who also went to Rowan but I have lost contact with: Joe Barton and Siobhan McGuinness. They were two people in my life who made me want to come to Rowan in the first place. 

DJ sitting inside Engineering building

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

Professor Mansaray, I took him for Software Development. He was such a down-to-earth guy and very straightforward. He let us in about everything we’ll need to know. He made all my worries about post-graduation just go away. He told us to build up a portfolio, and what’s so nice about my program is that we do so many projects that by the time we leave, we already have things to put in a portfolio. 

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

Focus on what you really want out of life, this is the time to do it.

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

Photos by:
Joe Gentempo, senior art major

TRANSFERmation Tuesday: Psychology Major Joshua Olumakin Shares Insight On His Major

Joshua poses outside of Bunce Hall.

Joshua Olumakin, senior Psychology major and transfer student from Rowan College of South Jersey, talks with us about his experience in his major here at Rowan.

Joshua holds his camera on Bunce Green.

Joshua became interested in psychology after watching and listening to his mother’s online psychology courses she took in pursuing her master’s degree.

Along with studying psychology, Joshua is a photographer; he uses what he knows from his courses to enhance his photos.

“I want to pursue photography more after graduation. It’s one of my passions, and my major supports that by understanding others and myself as I grow,” he says.

Joshua realized he was in the right major from talking with other people about psychology. What excites him most about psychology is the people. “I really enjoy interacting with people, it excites me and it’s what gets me more interested in this major,” he adds.

Joshua sits on the steps of Bunce Hall.

When asked to share one cool thing about his major, Joshua says, “Reading people. You tend to pick up on habits of people and how they are. It’s amazing the way you expect things to be and then see them exceed your expectations. It’s strange.” 

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

Photos by:
Stephanie Batista, sophomore music industry major

TRANSFERmation Tuesday: Aspiring College Professor Holly Zurenda

Holly stands against a brick wall.

Today we speak to Holly Zurenda, a senior Computer Science and Mathematics double major. A Rapid City, South Dakota native, Holly attended Black Hills State University and South Dakota School of Mines & Technology before transferring to Rowan University ten years later. Holly commutes from Egg Harbor Township, NJ (Atlantic County). Holly is set to graduate in December 2021. 

Holly poses next to the sign for Science Hall.

How was your transition into Rowan?

The process was amazingly simple. I had originally applied to be in the Combined Advanced Degree Program (CADP) in Subject Matter Education for Math and Science majors. Then, somebody had mentioned Computer Science and told me to try that degree program instead to see if I would like that more. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I thought I would teach, but I liked math more, so I ended up in the Computer Science program.

Could you share a moment when you felt that Rowan was the right place for you?

I think most of all, it’s the professors. I feel like every professor is always willing to help. They help within office hours. They’ll schedule meetings with you outside of office hours if you need help. I think definitely it was the professors who have made this experience the best that it can be for me.

What are you most excited about when Rowan returns to face-to-face learning?

I think I’ll be most excited to work as a team with people in person, rather than on group calls. It is a little more difficult to work in a group online, especially when it’s computer science. Everybody has something up on their screen and we can’t all share our screens at once. I’m definitely most excited to do a group project in a true group fashion.

What are your plans for after you graduate from Rowan?

I think I will get a master’s degree in Computer Science. Then, I will get a Ph.D. in Computer Science. I want to teach Computer Science at a college level. 

What are you passionate about in your majors?

I wouldn’t say that my passion is truly for computers, science or math. My passion is actually teaching people. I seem to have a knack for it, and computer science is a high-need area. Most people don’t understand math and therefore they don’t understand computer science or vice versa, so I just figured it would be an excellent subject that I could actually help people learn about.

Holly poses in front of Science Hall.

How was transferring to Rowan the right choice for you?

I think that overall, it comes down to flexibility. A lot of colleges put a cap on how far you can commute, and I could commute from an hour away to Rowan. Also price-wise, it was better for me than other colleges. Overall, I just think Rowan is a pretty standup school. 

Do you have any advice for someone else who is returning to college after a long hiatus?

It’s definitely going to be difficult at first, but don’t give up. You will get back into the swing of things so quickly if you just keep trying.

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

Meet Transfer Profs: 3+1 Psychology Student and Mother Victoria Hable

Victoria sits with her son, Rowen.

Today we speak to Victoria Hable, a first-generation college student and mom from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Victoria transferred from Harrisburg Area Community College to Rowan College at Burlington College. She will transfer to Rowan University in the fall as part of the 3+1 program. Victoria is majoring in Psychology and will graduate next spring.  

Victoria sits on stones in front of greenery on Rowan Boulevard.

Can you tell me a little about the 3+1 program that you’re currently enrolled in?

I’m in the 3+1 program for Psychology. The 3+1 program is going to Rowan College at Burlington County (RCBC) for three years and transferring to Rowan and finishing a bachelor’s degree there for one year. I was a Music Business major at Harrisburg Area Community College. When I transferred to RCBC, I changed my major to Psychology. I had a lot of credits from the Music Business program that my 3+1 advisor Diana helped me work in as some extra electives so it wouldn’t delay my graduation date. From there, I created a plan to complete my last two years of my bachelor’s degree at RCBC and Rowan.

How did you hear about Rowan and what made you want to come here? 

I moved to the area two years ago for a change of scenery. I was able to live with family and babysit for them. I started at RCBC in 2018 to finish up community college, and I found out about the 3+1 program while I was there. I started the program when I was a year into my time at RCBC, and that is how I found out about Rowan.

Victoria sits and hugs her son on Rowan Boulevard.

What is it like to balance being a mother with being a student?

It’s difficult. It’s definitely a lot. My son was born with Down Syndrome, so he has a lot of therapies and appointments. Balancing his appointments, my appointments and schoolwork is a lot. I’m not working, so it gives me a little more leeway in my schedule, but my job right now is to take care of him and finish school.

How has Rowan supported you in being a mother and a student?

It was two weeks into the spring semester, last January when I went to Diana, my advisor. I told her I had just found out I was four months pregnant, and I didn’t know what to do with my 3+1 plan. She helped me rearrange my plan to accommodate my being out for six weeks. I was out over the summer, so it only put me behind by two classes. It did not move my graduation date back at all. Instead of encouraging me to take a semester off because I found out I was pregnant, my advisor encouraged me to keep going. Diana was very dedicated to helping me figure out a new plan and stay in college like I wanted. The professors I have had so far are also willing to work with me.

Victoria and Rowen sit on the grass in the Glassboro Town Square.

How does your son motivate you to continue to pursue your career?

I had some prenatal testing that was done about five months into my pregnancy, but I didn’t know until my son was actually born that he was 100% going to have Down Syndrome. Last May, I saw that the first student with Down Syndrome graduated from Rowan University last year. That was really cool for me to see, and that gave me more motivation to keep pushing to pursue my career and more motivation that my son might be able to go to college. Seeing that student graduate is also the reason why I decided to name my son Rowen. Rowen is in therapy twice a week, we’re working with him constantly. Seeing his resilience to everything and how he adapts to his environment is a big motivator for me, especially me being a psychology major. Watching him grow and learn new things is so fun, and it just makes me want to learn more about him and more about neuro-psychology.

Do you have any advice for any current or incoming Rowan students that are also moms?

Since COVID has happened, I have met online classmates who are moms as well. But as for advice, if you have a support system, take advantage of it. The school is 100% percent behind you to help. But I think the biggest thing is just to stick with it. Even if it gets a little heavy sometimes.

What are your goals after you graduate?

When I switched my major to Psychology originally, I wanted to pursue my master’s in Psychology. I wanted to apply for the FBI and work in forensics. But since I’m a Mom now, I had to change my path a bit. Now, I eventually want to get into trauma psychology and maybe criminal justice reform.

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

Photos by:
Stephanie Batista, sophomore music industry major

Beyond the Classroom: Cultural Clubs and Landing Internships with JT Kurtz

JT leans against a tree on Bunce green, wearing a Rowan sweater with hands in his pockets.

Today we speak with JT Kurtz, a first-generation college student from Egg Harbor Township (Atlantic County). JT will be graduating this year with a degree in Computer Science and currently works as an ARD (Assistant Resident Director) on campus. He is also active in RUPAC (the Rowan University Philippine American Coalition) and is a Human Factors Researcher for the Psychology department. 

What clubs have you been a part of? 

I am part of the Rowan University Philippine American Coalition (RUPAC – the Filipino club). I am half-Filipino and half-Italian! 

I’m also a Human Factors Researcher for the Psychology department. Human Factors looks at processes (not just technical, anything with how a team operates or any technologies they work with). We try to find the most efficient way to make it better or redesign it so that it’s much easier for everyone.

When I was in the Honors College, my Comp II professor (Professor Flocco) was the coordinator for the Honors B.L.A.S.T. Mentor Program. I told her about my passion for computer science. I really like taking something, being innovative or redesigning it, and making sure it’s the best for someone to visually see and understand. That’s considered User Interface or User Experience Design (UI or UED). That segued into “Oh, she knows somebody at UPenn. Speak with them and see what opportunities you can get from there.” So, I went all the way to Philly, had a 30-minute conversation and that person was like “Hey, I know somebody that’s here at Rowan.” I came back and had an interview with my advisor, Dr. Tremoulet. She is fantastic without a doubt. She said “I’m going to bring you on board with my team. So I’ve been in her lab for about a year and a half now. We actually just published one of her researches. It was super awesome.”

JT smiles and points at the camera on Bunce green.

Tell me more about RUPAC!

I’ve been a part of that since my sophomore year. I went out my freshman year to the Org Fair, that was always an awesome opportunity. My friend and I went to high school together. He’s been in it since freshman year and was like “Hey, you should check it out.” I met some really great people and being part of that org has helped me start my DJ career because they always needed a DJ for any of their on-campus events. And from there, I was able to build my network because RUPAC is affiliated with major regional and national Filipino conferences [all under the organization called “Filipino International Networking Dialogue” (FIND) spanning colleges from Massachusetts down to Florida]. 

I believe it was last year, prior to COVID, I went to TCNJ. They hosted a big conference called “Dialogue” where all of these other Filipino organizations come together. They talk about what it’s like to be Asian American and how we can better our communities from all different kinds of perspectives. It was really cool, it’s always fun! You play games, share stories, and then you make new friends. With that, I was actually able to segue into being the DJ for their regional formal dance (hosting students from 7 out of the 8 regions in FIND). With RUPAC, it’s been really great to be on campus. I know they’re still working their best now even with the pandemic. 

JT stands in front of the Rowan University archway near Bunce Hall.

Are you part of any other clubs? 

I feel like I always do too much (everyone always describes me like that). Aside from that, nothing else on campus. I have my off-campus internship as a software developer for General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT).

Where are they located? 

They have a lot of different branches and offices. They’re a government contracting agency, similar to Lockheed Martin. I interned with them over the summer and I will continue interning with them throughout the school year. Thankfully, I just accepted a full-time job with them. 

When do you start working for them full-time? 

I believe I start with them in June. I have to smooth things out, fill out some paperwork with the manager. I’m super excited. The game plan from there is to work with them and hopefully, I would like to pursue my master’s in Computer Science. 

How did you find that internship? 

Every year since freshman year, I went to the Career Fair and that’s how I found GDIT. 

JT leans against a tree, looking solemnly across Bunce green.

Do you have any thoughts on what’s happening with Asian hate? 

We definitely live in a world where there’s hatred all throughout. It’s a shame that there are different groups that are being targeted. I think a lot of people try to work together to make things better. I know recently we had a march around campus [protesting Asian hate]. I encourage any group that has [been targeted] to come together and speak on how we can make our society better. We can acknowledge that things are happening in our world that is definitely wrong. At the same time, we need to work together and come up with solutions to prevent that from happening. 

Have you ever experienced any Asian hate on campus? 

Personally no, that’s actually an interesting topic now. I think about how when you walk around campus and how people can tell if you’re of a certain race. I don’t think that’s fair because you don’t fully know their background. You probably didn’t know I was Filipino because I don’t portray the common characteristics of a Filipino. I think that contributes to why I don’t experience much of that perspective. At the same time, I can still resonate with my friends, my family, and my culture. I’m sure there are other people in that same situation. Maybe they don’t contribute to the hate but they don’t understand it. I will definitely support this movement as much as possible with as much as I can. 

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

Photos by:
Stephanie Batista, sophomore music industry major

Meet Transfer Profs: Psychology Major Rosetta Briscoe

An outdoor shot of Rosetta smiling and wearing reflective sunglasses.

Meet incoming transfer Prof Rosetta Briscoe. Rosetta is a Psychology major from Pemberton, NJ who transferred from Rowan College of Burlington County. She shares how she chose Rowan University and what she’s looking forward to!

Rosetta posing for a photo in a hot pink sun dress and reflective sunglasses.

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

I’m looking forward to everything the school has to offer. I’m excited for the academic and personal growth that is to come.

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

I’m not active in any clubs, but I do have a hobby of jewelry making and singing. I would love to be a part of any club that inspires me to be creative and help individuals.

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?

I would like to explore my options and join clubs, be active, and perhaps try a new skill. I love learning something new and being able to apply the knowledge toward my degree.

What majors are you considering and why?

Psychology so I can help counsel, and perhaps business, so that I can have my own practice.

Rosetta wearing a black sequined mask.

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

I attended a virtual event for Psychology, it was informative and wonderful. I would recommend it to students.

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

Do your research, then see which schools are the best fit for you. Think about the financial requirements, your academics, and what would be best for you.

Where are you going to live next year?

Commute from home.

What is one thing about Rowan itself that you liked?

I like that so far I have experienced people working together as a team to make sure students are able to succeed.

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Story by:
Bianca Torres, senior music industry major

Photos courtesy of:
Rosetta Briscoe

Meet Transfer Profs: Psychology Major Sara Brooks

Outdoor photo of Sara smiling in a pumpkin patch.

Meet incoming transfer Prof Sara Brooks. Sara is a Psychology major originally from Orlando, Florida who transferred from Rowan College of Burlington County. She shares why she chose Rowan and what she’s looking forward to!

A selfie of Sara wearing a brown hat.

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

I am looking forward to completing my bachelor’s degree in Psychology at a school that has progressive outlook on mental health and mindfulness.

If you are from out of state, why did you choose a university not in your home state? Why Rowan?

I grew up in Florida, and when I moved to New Jersey after getting married, I was lucky enough to find RCBC and enroll in their 3+1 program, which has given me the opportunity to transfer into Rowan University for my senior year and complete my bachelor’s degree in Psychology.

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

One [activity] that I look forward to becoming a part of is Rowan Thrive, especially in their Emotional Well-Being program. Stress and anxiety is something that all students face, and having resources that can help in learning how to navigate these emotions is important for everyone to discover their best self.

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?

I am really looking forward to exploring more in Student Services and learning how I can be of service to more transfer students like myself who are coming into a new university and the opportunities that are available.

Sara laughing and sitting in a pumpkin patch.

What majors are you considering and why?

I am a senior psychology major due to my natural interest in learning about why people are the way that they are. I currently work as a Behavioral Health Technician at an alcohol and drug treatment center working toward completing a certification as a Certified Alcohol Drug Counselor. Being able to complete my bachelor’s degree at Rowan and continue on to a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology is my goal, where I will focus more on dual diagnosis aspect of addiction.

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

Due to COVID being very present in my time of transferring to a university, I have only been able to attend virtual events and I have really enjoyed them. Being able to schedule Zoom advising sessions and talk with an advisor one-on-one has been so helpful in planning my future goals.

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

Not to focus too much on where you want to transfer schools to but why. Look into schools that offer programs that you could see yourself being a part of after graduation and that have programs that you could see yourself being a part of.

Where are you going to live next year?

Commute from home.

What is one thing about Rowan itself that you liked?

I really liked that they offer so many courses in Psychology that focus on research and the study of behavior, especially mindfulness, and that they offer a Philosophy track as well.

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Story by:
Bianca Torres, senior music industry major

Photos courtesy of
Sara Brooks

Meet Transfer Profs: Human Services & Psychology Major NyEsha Cintron

An outdoor photo of a branded chair on campus.
A selfie of NyEsha in a botanical garden.

Meet incoming transfer student NyEsha Cintron. NyEsha is a first-generation Human Services and Psychology major from Maple Shade, NJ (Burlington County) who transferred from Rowan College of Burlington County. She shares how she ended up at Rowan and what she’s looking forward to!

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

I am looking forward to meeting new people, the ability to foster lasting relationships and grow in experience with my area of study. I am excited to see how school will impact my life as well as how I will impact the lives of others.

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

I’d like to get involved in the Human Services Club or a language club.

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?

I will be taking a Spanish class, and I’d like to see my knowledge increase in this language to speak it fluently.

What majors are you considering and why?

I am a Human Services and Psychology major through and through. I love learning how to better understand people in efforts to better serve them. These majors are very organic to how I am wired, and I feel that I can be my best by furthering my education in these areas of studies.

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

I haven’t had the time to do so, but am awaiting orientation for transfer students, can’t wait!

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

Do it and get started!

Where are you going to live next year?

Commute from home.

What is one thing about Rowan itself that you liked?

I like that Rowan participated with community colleges to ensure continuity of learning to a accredited university.

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Story by:
Bianca Torres, senior music industry major

Meet Transfer Profs: Fabrizio A. Galindo of Whiting, NJ

Sideways look at the glass side of windows of a building.
A selfie of Fabrizio on a beach.

Meet incoming transfer Fabrizio Galindo, who will live on campus in the fall. Fabrizio is a first generation college student and an aspiring Biological Sciences major from Whiting, NJ (Ocean County) transferring from Stockton University. 

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

I look forward to growing as a person while achieving my academic goals and succeeding at all the dreams I set my mind to.

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

Most of my time I spend studying online. I think I would like to try an Honor society and develop my hobbies with them. I found that to be a lot more ideal.

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?

I found out that Rowan’s science department is among the best ones in NJ. I feel that involving myself in Physics and Math clubs would be a set of new skills I will like to grow.

What majors are you considering and why?

Biology, Biophysics and physics. I have always wanted to study sciences and these are the best sciences to take if you like particles.

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

I have not done so due to Covid. I would like to go to Rowan’s Church and the science building I’m also curious about the Engineering building, I heard they have a pretty good signal.

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

Please look at all of your opportunities, you have no idea what you are going to miss on if you don’t check Rowan out.

What is one thing about Rowan itself that you liked?

Other than Dr. Ali A. Houshmand having graduated in mathematics, I liked the University’s private scholarships and the Honors concentration.

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Story by: Bianca Torres, senior, music industry major

Meet Transfer Profs: Future Marine Biologist Malin Barnes

Exterior shot of Science Hall.
A selfie of Malin.

Meet incoming transfer student and Biological Sciences major Malin Barnes. Malin is a transfer from Eastern New Mexico University and is originally from Abilene, Texas. He shares more about what he’s looking forward to and why he chose Rowan.

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

Advancing my academic career and exploring the music culture on campus.

Why Rowan?

I was stationed in New Jersey from Texas. Rowan seemed to be the best fit for transferring my credits to, and the programs seems very credible and comprehensive.

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

Symphonic band/pep band and Greek life.

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?

If possible, I’d like to explore more marine-based skills and explore all the benefits of living in a coastal state.

What major are you considering and why?

Biological Science. I want to work towards a master’s of marine biology to pursue a career in coral reef conservation and restoration.

Malin taking a selfie in his Coast Guard uniform.

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

I did do a private guided tour of the campus. It was very comprehensive and informative. Although a lot of the tour was focused on freshmen rather than a transferring student, it was fun to explore the campus as a new student would.

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

If you want to focus on your career and not have a huge amount of your campus life spent on sports, Rowan is the place to go. It’s modern and up to date, and isn’t overburdened with a focus on high-level sports.

What is one thing about Rowan itself that you liked?

The lack of a football focus. Back home it’s all about college sports, but Rowan feels more like a school focused on education.

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Story by:
Bianca Torres, senior music industry 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.

Senior Jerico Mellet’s Favorite Class: Molecular Biophysics

Jericho smiles, stands outside of Rowan Boulevard.

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

Today we speak to Jerico Mellet, a senior Biomedical Engineering major with CUGS in Training and Development and Management and Leadership. Jerico is a first-generation college student and off-campus renter from Gloucester County. He tells us about a course that left a lasting impression with him. 

Jerico poses outside in front of a brick wall.

What is your favorite class?

My favorite class is Biophysics [now called Molecular Biophysics], which was taught by Dr. Nathaniel Nucci. The course is offered by the Physics Department.

Tell us a little about what the class is.

The class studied biological processes using Gibb’s Free Energy Equation. The equation includes entropy and enthalpy, and entropy is the part where probability comes into play. For instance, the reason our DNA gets read/copied properly is that the probability of the protein going forward and copying correctly is higher than it going backward and copying incorrectly.

The content of the class was very fascinating to me, and the way that Dr. Nucci taught the course was very effective. He didn’t spoonfeed us information; it was a lot like teaching us how to fish instead so we can independently make the discoveries and solutions.

That class was the first class that got me really interested and excited about science because before I’ve been studying math on its own like calculus, or studying biology on its own. 

There was always some overlap, but the Biophysics (now it’s called Molecular Biophysics) class really connected the fields and put everything into a new perspective for me. We covered a lot of information, but not so much that it was overwhelming. He kept everything at an understandable pace.

Jerico wears sunglasses, poses next to a bare tree on a snow-covered campus.

Share with us a few details on why this class was interesting.

The class put what I knew about biology in mathematical/probabilistic terms, which changed the way I view science, biology and math.

Is there anything else that made this class impactful?

It pushed me beyond my comfort zone, and how he led the class toward understanding the concepts was empowering because he wouldn’t just give us the answers, but sometimes asked us questions to have us revisit what we thought we knew. 

Jerico smiles, poses next to a tree outside on a snow-covered campus.

What makes this professor great?

He gave us the tools to figure out the questions. He’d walk around checking in on everyone, always made himself available, and was encouraging.

How did this class help to support your academic or personal growth or your professional goals?

It helped me see connections between different fields of science, biology and math. As I take further classes, I grow curious about other connections such as harmony in music and how harmonious movement could be energy efficient.

What are your professional goals?

Since I was born in Peru and speak Spanish, I want to go back and start a company there to provide healthy jobs for people and that would benefit the country as a whole, and eventually bring that to other countries around the world.

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

TRANSFERmation Tuesday: Psychology Major, HR Management Minor John Tully

John stands outside Bunce Hall.

Today, we speak to Psychology major and Human Resources Management minor John Tully. John, from Ramsey, NJ (Bergen County), is a transfer student from Bergen Community College. 

John standing against the door of Bunce while wearing sunglasses and a Rowan Psychology sweatshirt.

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

I am going to Georgetown in the fall for a master’s in Human Resource Management. After that, I hope to work in global HR management. Rowan has Psychology majors take a professions and practice class, that is where I learned about HR master’s programs and realized that is the direction I wanted to go in. Also, I was able to add a Human Resources Management minor to my program which helped me stand out from other applicants to the programs I applied to.

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

HR is a crucial part of business and has major influences globally. HR has the ability to influence workplace happiness, motivation and profitability. HR also creates a safe and inclusive workplace while ensuring legal compliance. I would like to work in global HR management by designing human resource programs that are able to be applied across multiple cultures.

What inspired you to choose your major?

I was originally a bio/mathematics major and took an Intro to Psychology class to fulfill an elective requirement. I fell in love with psychology because of how diverse and interesting it is. It is an amazing field, which can be related to nearly any topic of interest. I knew after taking that class that I wanted to change my major and pursue a career in some way related to psychology.

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

I read about Rowan while researching colleges to transfer to. Rowan is a well-ranked school with classes related to Industrial Organizational Psychology. That made it stand out from other schools.

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

Around two hours.

John standing on the steps of Bunce Hall while wearing a Rowan Psychology sweatshirt

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

I am far enough away from home where things feel different, but still close enough where visiting friends and family is easy. I wanted a change of scenery but I didn’t want it to be too difficult to visit family.

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?

Mostly that South Jersey is very different than North Jersey. They’re like different states. South Jersey has a slower, more relaxed energy. Also, South Jersey is beautiful. It isn’t as crowded or urbanized as North Jersey. I always enjoy driving around and just taking in the open space and beautiful farmland.

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

There is so much good food here and it is so much cheaper to dine out than in North Jersey. There are also vineyards and a brewery near by. Rowan hosts a lot of events. Plus, Philadelphia is only about 20 minutes away so you have the ability to have city life if you want.

Why did you choose to transfer to Rowan University?

Rowan is a well-ranked university with an impressive psychology program taught by respected experts in their fields. Also, Rowan offers classes about Industrial Organizational Psychology, which is my area of interest.

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Story by:
Bianca Torres, senior music industry major

Photography by:
Jabreeah Holmes, senior radio/TV/film 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.

Faculty PROFile: Dr. Lisa Abrams’ Innovative and Inclusive Efforts Break Down Barriers to Education

Dr. Lisa Abrams sits in Robinson Hall.

Dr. Lisa Abrams, assistant professor of Psychology, joined the Rowan faculty in 2014. Dr. Abrams recently earned the Excellence in Online Learning Award from Rowan Global Learning and Partnerships for her work.

Dr. Lisa Abrams stands near a board for the Psychology department in Robinson Hall.

Dr. Lisa Abrams went above and beyond to assist students in transitioning to a “new normal.” 

Rowan Global’s Excellence in Online Learning Award primarily highlighted two of her courses, Statistics in Psychology and Research Methods in Psychology. Well before Covid-19, these courses were offered both in-person and online when created four years ago to accommodate the fully-online Psychology program here at Rowan. Dr. Abrams coordinated and developed these classes herself. 

Course materials within these classes are free thanks to the Textbook Alternative Program (TAP) grant provided by the university. After receiving the grant for both courses, Dr. Abrams and a colleague searched for free resources for students. She felt confident they would find a proper alternative to save students money. 

She found an open-source textbook that also had permissions to allow students to download the free textbook as a PDF. “For the rest of the course, there is nothing else [the students] have to pay for,” she says. Even the statistical software options, Jamovi and SPSS, used in the statistics course were free to the students. 

“Early on, I recognized that the textbook prices were a bit like a barrier for my students,” Abrams says. “And it’d be a month into the class, because they couldn’t get it. So it definitely takes away that issue.”

She also designed a one-credit course called Navigating Psychology for students who are new to the major. This course provides faculty with benchmarks to later measure students’ learning outcomes in the program. For the roughly 500 students who take the class each year, professors incorporate an introduction to the program into the course material, explaining who’s who within the psychology department, how students can meet with their college advisors, school policies, Rowan’s academic integrity policy and more. 

Many students have attested the most important takeaway they received from the course was simply knowing essential, practical and timely information about psychology and the resources available to them at Rowan. The course serves as a roadmap to succeeding in Rowan’s psychology program and the university community in general. 

Dr. Abrams strategically considered what it must be like for students to take on “the mental load of existing in a pandemic” as well as having to switch to a remote or hybrid college experience. In doing so, Dr. Abrams had to choose the most meaningful assignments to keep in the course. 

Dr. Lisa Abrams sits inside Robinson Hall.

Since creating her statistics course four years ago, Dr. Abrams redeveloped parts of it last spring. She made the quizzes as access gates to the next module to make sure students would not skip ahead and rather learn on schedule. The quizzes were designed more so as a practice test that would only accept a certain grade to move on, but can be taken as many times as needed to learn the material. Each quiz is different because the questions are chosen from a pool of questions that are given to different students and narrowed down. 

She made this major change because she realized the importance of formative assessments. She aimed to make assignments that tested students’ knowledge without making them overly intimidating. Then the students will receive feedback immediately to quickly understand what they can improve on. This can guide the students to alter their study habits and remain on track with Dr. Abrams’ course goals. By doing multiple quizzes within a chapter, the students can find their level of understanding easily and at multiple points in the course. 

Dr. Abrams’ favorite part of student engagement focuses less on the actual course material and more on developing positive relationships with the students. She enjoys being able to guide students in their learning process as well as making the teaching process easier — building trust between students and the professor can help students ask more questions. 

She misses one-to-one interactions with students outside of class, which she still experiences now through Zoom or phone calls. Dr. Abrams continues to make time for students outside of class, which is invaluable for students, especially during the pandemic. 

Her current research focuses on the topic of teaching, with multiple projects in the works at different stages. Dr. Abrams shares: “I tested if team-based learning is effective in teaching statistics in psychology. I have a project that is in big data collection right now about inclusive teaching practices and what students and faculty think about them and how much [the faculty] are using these types of strategies.”

Dr. Lisa Abrams smiles outside on Rowan's campus.

Dr. Abrams wishes people knew that psychology is a science. She explains that psychology uses the same scientific method used in other “hard sciences” to test all theories and in every field within psychology. She knows that many people misconceive this science because it deals with humans, making it appear “softer in a way.” She appreciates the fact that Rowan placed psychology under the College of Science and Mathematics (CSM), which did not match Dr. Abrams’ experiences at other colleges.

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Story by: Marian Suganob, public relations major



Leadership #PROFspective: Photography Club President Jill Taylor

Jill poses with three cameras next to a fountain.

Today we speak to Jill Taylor, president of the Photography Club. Jill is a junior Biological Sciences major with a concentration in Environmental Sciences and minors in Environmental Engineering and Chemistry. Jill is a first-generation college student and commutes to campus from Fortescue, NJ (Cumberland County).

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

Jill poses next to a fountain at the Engineering Pond on campus.

What is your role in your organization? Briefly describe what your organization does. 

I am the president and founding member of Rowan’s Photography Club, which you can join by joining our Discord. You can also find us on Instagram @rowanphotoclub. I do a little bit of everything. I do a lot of the planning and delegating between Eboard members, general members and SGA, taking notes and planning future things, trying to see what the club can do in the future. The biggest thing I do is trying to encourage people to join or participate in the club.

Photography is so universal and is for everyone. We want to cultivate the photography and model and visual arts type of scene at Rowan because there is such an interest. We didn’t want to limit the club to just photographers, we also wanted to include models and graphic designers. At general meetings, we view and vote on photos submitted for the themed photography contests we have each week. Whoever won the previous contest picks the theme for the next contest. Sometimes we critique the photos and tell the photographers what they might do better next time. We have also been trying to integrate Kahoot and Jeopardy into our meetings so that our members can learn more about photography.

We have many beginners in our club, and we try to teach them as much as we can, help them figure out what they want to do and also be as inclusive as possible. One day, we will be able to all practice photography together. 

What have you learned in your role as a leader?

I have learned that assuming responsibility is not always what you think it is. We have this idea of what a leader should be, which is someone who is in charge and tells us what to do dominantly. I think leadership requires a different approach, where you say what has to be done, but also are more flexible and empathetic, especially to be an outstanding leader that someone should look up to. I’ve seen too many more male people in positions of power with no emotional aspect of leadership and have toxic masculinity and sexism. Empathy is the most important thing, you can have all the power in the world if you don’t care about the people around you, it’s not worth it. 

Jill adjusts her camera settings.

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

Starting the Photography Club and finding people who are just as passionate as I am is a great memory. There are people who trust me, even though I think I don’t know what I’m doing. The vibe is totally different.

Who inspires you and why? 

I draw a lot of inspiration from many people and a lot of literature, but if I had to pick one person, it would be Barbara Dunkelman. She is a social media personality actor and model who pushes for empathy and a deeper understanding of each other and being a better person. She gives advice, and none of it is too serious. She discusses very serious topics, but she can throw in a terrible dad joke or keep it lighthearted. 

Jill looks off into the distance while sitting on Bunce Hall's steps.

What’s the most significant barrier to women today? 

I think it’s the idea of what a woman should be. Women are often expected to be very effeminate and nurturing, and we can empower them until it comes to taking charge and having leadership roles. The characterization of women is very one-dimensional, especially in media and day-to-day conversations.

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

I think you should be as compromising as you can until there is a topic where you don’t think you can yield and don’t be as open and as forthcoming with new ideas and advice from others. If there is something you refuse to budge on, don’t. Don’t put up with it. If it’s your belief, dig your heels into the ground and stand up for what you believe in, unless it has the potential to hurt other people. Hold up your boundaries, but also don’t be so closed off where you are hindering your own ideas. 

Jill takes a photo in the woods.

As long as people are not waiting for the next person to just do something and they just do something themselves. Don’t put something off when you can do it and take charge, which is a scary leap of faith and a big jump. But if it’s something you want, just take it. 

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Story by:
Marian Suganob, senior public relations and advertising double major and Rachel Rumsby, sophomore communication studies, and public relations double major

Photography by: 
Stephanie Batista, sophomore music industry major

 

Leadership #PROFspective: Shivani Shah, Cofounder Of South Asian Students Association (SASA)

Shivani sits in an academic building on campus.

Today we feature Shivani Shah, a leader at Rowan University. Shivani is cofounder of South Asian Students Association (SASA) and currently serves as its copresident. Shivani is a junior, first-generation college student from Egg Harbor Township, NJ (Atlantic County). She majors in Biochemistry and has a minor in Psychology. This story is part of a […]

Leadership #PROFspective: Yashaswi Parikh, Uplifting Leader, Cofounder and Copresident of Rowan SASA

Yashawhi standing behind Bunce Hall.

Today we speak with Yashaswi Parikh, cofounder and copresident of the Rowan South Asian Students Association as well as sunshine chair of Alpha Phi Omega (APO). As sunshine chair, she works to bring joy and happiness to the organization! Yashaswi is a senior Biological Sciences major and Spanish minor who is part of the 3+4 […]

Leadership #PROFspective: Catherine Nguyen, Cofounder of Rowan Vietnamese Student Association

Catherine against a railing at Bunce.

Today we feature Catherine Nguyen, a leader at Rowan University. From Washington Township, NJ (Morris County), Catherine majors in Biological Sciences and minors in Chemistry, Sociology and Thomas Bantivoglio Honors Concentration. She talks about her experience with the Vietnamese Student Association (VSA) and overall experience as a student leader. This story is part of a series spotlighting campus […]

TRANSFERmation Tuesday: Computing and Informatics Major Richard Shinnick

Richard poses on the steps in front of Dawn to Dusk Cafe.

Today we speak to Richard Shinnick, a senior transfer student from Ramapo College of New Jersey who majors in Computing and Informatics. Richard is an on-campus resident originally from Allendale, NJ (Bergen County).

Richard poses in front of a black fence.

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

My professional goals include making websites and apps that will impact our society.

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

Computers affect everyone. I would like to develop websites/apps.

Richard poses on a hill in the Glassboro Town Square.

What inspired you to choose your major?

I love computers, which inspired me to choose my major.

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

A family member, who is an alum of Rowan, recommended Rowan to me.

Richard walks down Rowan Boulevard.

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

My trip “home” to North jersey is two hours.

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

A benefit to living farther from home is gaining a greater sense of independence.

Richard looks at a pair of sunglasses inside Barnes and Noble.

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?

People say pork roll instead of Taylor ham, and it bothers me.

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

Atlantic City is close by, and I like to visit sometimes.

Why did you choose to transfer to Rowan University?

They have a great computer science program, and a great computing and informatics program.

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

TRANSFERmation Tuesday: Senior Computing and Informatics Major Abraham Reyes

Abraham poses in front of Science Hall.

Today we speak to Abraham Reyes, a senior, first-generation college student who transferred from Rowan College at Burlington County. Abraham majors in Computing and Informatics, minors in Business Administration and has a CUGS in Management Information Systems Certification. He is a commuter student from Camden, NJ (Camden County).

Abraham sits on a wall by the Student Center.

What is a typical Rowan day for you?

My typical Rowan day, since classes became primarily virtual, starts with breakfast and checking emails and the early news. I sign into my classes, which are all on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and start my day. After morning classes are through, I usually drive to the Rowan campus to grab lunch.

Being on campus is like a second home for me and I miss the environment, so I treat myself twice a week by driving to campus for lunch. I was fortunate enough to have my 2020 summer internship at Lockheed Martin extended through the entire fall semester, so I work virtually from my home on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Could you share with us one moment during your time at Rowan that made you feel inspired or confident that you’re in the right major for you?

At Rowan, I decided to major in Computing & Informatics, as well as minor in Business Administration. When I took Applied Database Technologies with Professor Arafat Qureshi during my first semester at Rowan, I immediately wanted to know more about coding, the organization and analysis of large quantities of data, and how it all applied to the business world. As I continued to take additional classes in my major, I felt confident that Computing & Informatics was the right major for me, and it definitely opened the door for me to my internship.

Abraham poses in front of Science Hall.

Could you tell us a little bit about your transition into Rowan as an incoming student?

I began my college career at Rowan College at Burlington County (RCBC). I knew I wanted to transfer to Rowan University because I wanted to explore a larger campus environment and join the Rowan University community. RCBC has a wonderful partnership with Rowan University, with many opportunities, and the transition from RCBC to Rowan was pretty smooth. I was really nervous and excited to transition from community college to a four-year college. It took me a while to get used to the larger campus, but now I’m very comfortable there and the Glassboro campus is like a second home to me.

What are your professional goals?

My professional goal is to land a full-time position at Lockheed Martin since I’ve been so happy with my ongoing internship, and I now better understand all the opportunities available for someone with a Computing & Informatics degree. I hope to work in the future with good, talented people to solve complex real-world problems.

How has Rowan helped to support you with your professional goals?

Rowan University has helped me so much with almost everything. My advisors were very supportive and gave me the best recommendations for choosing classes. All my professors have challenged me and helped prepare me for the unexpected in the workforce.

The Office of Career Advancement at Rowan has also helped me so much with networking, mock interviews and tips on nailing an interview. I feel like I made the best decision to attend Rowan University and call this school a second home. I’m currently working at Lockheed Martin as a Data Analysis/Project Management intern supporting the Global Supply Chain Competitive Intelligence Team. My internship has been extended four times, and I will now be transitioning to new tasks that will assist in developing additional skillsets. I would not be where I am today without the education and support I have received from Rowan University and many members of the faculty and staff.

I have enjoyed so many of my classes, such as Management Information Systems with Dr. Berrin Guner, and Organizational Behavior with Dr. Richard Jonsen. I would like to give a special “thank you” to Professor Bridget Temme-Soifer for helping me with Statistical Analysis and giving me the tools to see how data works in the real world. 

I also want to give a special “thank you” to Chiara, my Academic Success Advisor from the Academic Success Center, for helping me so much throughout my college experience. Finally, I’d like to thank my mother for always believing in me and for all the sacrifices she made over the years to help me become the person I am today. Overall, I feel that I made the best decision in choosing my major and minor, so now I feel confident about my future.

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

Photos by:
Jabreeah Holmes, senior radio, television and film 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.

#PROFspective: Junior Biochemistry Major, Student-Athlete Caitlyn Cordell

Catie poses, sitting on a bench.

Today we speak to Caitlyn Cordell, a junior Biochemistry major with a Psychology minor from Middletown, Delaware. Caitlyn is a first-generation college student who lives off-campus. 

Catie poses in front of a brick wall wearing a Rowan soccer shirt.

What is a typical Rowan day for you?

I typically start with breakfast, go to class anytime from 9:30-1:45, eat a snack between classes, I have soccer practice starting at 2, then I eat some dinner and do homework. After that, I will watch a movie or hang out with some friends if I am caught up on my work.

Could you share with us one moment during your time at Rowan that made you feel inspired or confident that you’re in the right major for you?

One time I felt inspired that my major was right for me was when I got accepted into a research program at Cooper Hospital. I felt like all my classes had prepared me well and I made the right decision.

Catie poses by the Campbell Library wearing a Rowan soccer shirt.

Could you tell us a little bit about your transition into Rowan as an incoming student?

I was really excited to be living on campus for the first time, to make new friends, and study subjects I was interested in. I think my professors did a really great job of being accepting and creating a comfortable environment in their classrooms. This allowed me to connect with other students in the class easier and I made some of my best friends because of that welcoming feeling.

What are your professional goals?

I want to go to medical school and become a physician.

Catie poses outside wearing a Rowan soccer shirt.

How has Rowan helped to support you with your professional goals?

The science department has prepared me for my medical school exam and given me an excellent foundation of knowledge. The Pre-Health Society at Rowan has been a very beneficial club, the meetings help keep me on track for success. They also host cool workshops on topics such as vital signs, suturing, or getting to view and touch different brains.

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

Photos by:
Stephanie Batista, sophomore music industry major

TRANSFERmation Tuesday: Jordan Jiosi

Jordan sitting at a table in Wilson with a window behind him.

Today we feature first-generation college student Jordan Jiosi from Medford Lakes, NJ (Burlington County). Jordan is a double major in Computer Science (Artificial Intelligence) and Mathematics (Statistics) and is in a Combined Advanced Degree Program for an MS in Computer Science. Jordan is a transfer from Rowan College at Burlington County (RCBC) and tells us […]

My Favorite Class: Bre’Anna Kidd-Smith, Plant Diversity

A stock image of house plants and books.

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

Today we speak to senior Biological Studies major and Africana Studies minor Bre’Anna Kidd-Smith. Bre’Anna is from Gloucester County, NJ. Here, she shares details on her favorite class at Rowan. 

Bre'Anna poses outside.

What was the name of your favorite class at Rowan?

My favorite class at Rowan is Plant Diversity. 

What department was the class in?

Plant Diversity is a class in the Biological Sciences Department.

Who taught the class when you took it?

Dr. Sara Wright was the professor of my section of Plant Diversity.

Tell us a little bit about the class.

This class focuses on the study of numerous plants in regards to their morphology, ecology, physiology, and evolution in addition to the role that human and nonhuman factors have on the diversity of plants.

Bre'Anna poses indoors.

Share with us a few details on why this class was interesting.

This class was interesting because I was able to learn about the evolutionary relationships between the major groups of plants in addition to their characteristics. I also found this class interesting because Dr. Wright, my professor, gave the class a photo journal project that we were able to complete throughout the semester. This assignment gave me an opportunity to not only learn about different plants but also document their characteristics and the environmental factors that they encounter in their daily lives.

What makes this professor great?

Dr. Wright is extremely thorough when talking about plants and provides a lot of visual aids to go along with her lectures. She takes the time to not only create videos that provide students with information on the current topic being taught in class but also incorporate supplemental readings that will explain things even more.

How did this class help to support your academic or personal growth or your professional goals?

This class helped to support my personal growth because I was able to get back in touch with nature by taking time out of each day to get some fresh air. In addition, I now have a fresh perspective and appreciation for life. After taking this class, I’ve also become more compelled to step out of my comfort zone in regards to certain goals that I would like to achieve.

Bre'Anna poses outdoors.

What are your professional goals?

My professional goals are to establish a personal brand within the cosmetic industry and become a business owner.

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

Photos provided by:
Bre’Anna Kidd-Smith, senior biological studies major

Black STEM Majors Share Advice for Black High School Students Interested in STEM

Ylanda sits outside campus near Campbell Library.

Today, we’re highlighting Black STEM majors as they share some advice on where to start when looking into STEM.

Ylanda wearing a Rowan shirt and posing outside the Campbell Library.

“Attend as many events as you can to meet new people that has the same interests as you and to also carry out with your interests,” says Ylanda Souffrant, a sophomore, first-generation college student and Math Education major from Trenton, NJ (Mercer County)

Josephine wearing a lab coat and posing in the Science building.

“It’s alright if you know you’re interested in STEM, but you don’t know what you want to do with it in life. Carefully choose the school/program you join because that is how you will position yourself and expose yourself to experiences and individuals that will guide you along your journey,” says Josephine Babatunde, a senior Biochemistry major and transfer student from Union County College (Union County, NJ).

Dévon sitting and posing for a photo while wearing a dotted dress shirt and blue dress pants.

“One major key of advice I would give for high school STEM students is to not give up. I know this sounds a bit cliché, but you’re going to run into many obstacles and people who try to hold you down or stop your progress, but you can’t let nothing stand in your way. The road is going to be rough and tough but like my family always used to preach to me, ‘If someone already did it, you can too,'” says DéVon Malloy, a junior, first-generation college student and Biomedical Engineering major from Hillside, NJ (Union County)

Briana sitting and posing on the fountain stature outside Campbell Library.

“Hold your head up high! The courses may seem rigorous and tedious, but you are more than capable. You are just as competitive as anyone else around you; don’t give up! Ask for help if you need it, take advantage of programs that cater to your major whether it is directly or indirectly correlated with the unrepresented, be sure to make connections any chance you get, and try to get some some volunteer experience in the field if possible.” — Briana Davy, junior, first-generation college student and Biological Sciences major (planning on receiving a CUGS in Spanish), Honors Concentration, transfer from RCSJ Cumberland, Vineland, NJ (Cumberland County)

Akil leaning against the bridge and smiling outside Engineering Hall.

“Start early. Time flies really fast and you never know what the next day will bring you. Get involved in programs, especially offered by the schools you go to, because it not only looks fantastic on your resumé but also the skills and knowledge you acquire from it goes a long way. Get involved early too, don’t be afraid of clubs and participating, and don’t be afraid to reach out to people in college now and ask questions.” — Akil DeBruhl, junior Biological Sciences major with a minor in Psychology, South Orange, NJ (Essex County)

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Story by: Bianca Torres, senior Music Industry major

Photography by: Stephanie Batista, sophomore Music Industry major and Joe Gentempo, Senior Art major

TRANSFERmation Tuesday: Passionate About Inspiring Women in Male-Dominated Field, Talia Tomarchio

Talia poses against a dark background.

Today we speak to Talia Tomarchio, a senior Computer Science major with a minor in neuroscience and an honors concentration. A Burlington County native, Talia is a transfer student from Rowan College at Burlington County, and a first-generation college student who lives off-campus in an apartment. Before COVID-19, she was a tutoring monitor for the computer science department and a front desk assistant. She is also a part of the Association of Computing Machinery’s Committee on Women, and Rowan’s Equestrian Team. Talia is also a winner of Rowan’s 2020 Idea Challenge.

Talia poses against a black backdrop.

What wakes you up in the morning?

Two things. One would be helping others. I really want to inspire women to be comfortable in a male-dominated industry. My other passion would probably be neuroscience, the subject I’m studying for my minor. I want to eventually get a job to take artificial intelligence or machine learning and integrate it with neuroscience and help the world that way. It’s a stretch, but my goal is to find a way to positively help people’s mental health through computer science. I would love to do that. That is my ultimate goal in life. Maybe I could analyze behavior patterns or create an app to help mental health. I am not sure exactly what I would do, but that is what I want to contribute to society.

How would you tell a fellow student interested in your major that they’re choosing a worthwhile field?

I think Computer Science is growing to be one of the largest majors at Rowan. We’re also accredited by the Computing Accreditation Committee of ABET. I really like the computer science department at Rowan because you know all your professors, so you don’t feel uncomfortable going to them. I think that computer science is a worthwhile degree to earn because there are so many options for fields to go into. For example, there are fields such as cybersecurity, data science, and artificial intelligence. There are many paths a computer science graduate can go down, and the degree is always going to be valuable.

What inspired you to know that you were in the right major for you?

I’ve always wanted to go into computer science, even as a little kid. I have always been good with computers. I wasn’t pushed toward the field, I just enjoy it. Nobody in my family ever had a technical background either.  I always wished I could learn how to program or code or become a software engineer, but I never had the confidence to do it. I traveled for a little while after my first year of college, and then I decided to “go for it” after I returned. I think that the support from the computer science department faculty at Rowan really helped me build my confidence. 

Talia poses against a black backdrop.

Has there been a faculty or staff member that’s really helped you to connect with the next step for your career?

The first one would be Dr. Anthony Breitzman, the Data Science Coordinator for the Computer Science Department. I performed research with him this semester on analyzing Myers-Briggs personality types through Twitter tweets. When you do research, you usually are a graduate student. I was a little intimidated because I was an undergrad, but Dr. Breitzman reassured me contrary to my perfectionist mentality, that I don’t have to know everything right now and that I will always be learning even after I graduate. I also asked him for career advice, on what kind of career path options I could go down.  Working with him really helped build my confidence. 

The second person would be Dr. Kristen diNovi, the Assistant Dean of the Honor’s College. She has been so supportive of me for all of my endeavors, and so helpful every time I asked her for advice. She connected me with Dr. Susana Santos and the Entrepreneurship Department in the Rohrer College of Business. They helped me grow Steminist Squad, my nonprofit organization that won the 2020 Rowan Idea Challenge. 

How was your transition into Rowan?

My first time going to college, I went to Rutgers out of high school. Then, I took some time off and I traveled the country. I lived in Florida and on the West Coast for a bit, and then I came back and decided to finish school. I am a bit older than the average undergraduate student, but I feel that it made me take my studies more seriously.  The transition to Rowan was really great. At first, I was a bit overwhelmed because I wanted to be involved in everything. I tried to take on more clubs and activities and classes than I could handle, but I overcame it with the support of the Computer Science Department faculty and staff. Micheal Schillo, my advisor, and Dr. Jennifer Kay, a professor in the department, told me it is okay to slow down. With their support, I was able to realize that I did not need to be involved in every single club and activity. From that experience, my advice to other students that feel overwhelmed is to seek support and utilize your resources, because they are there at Rowan, and know that it’s OK if you are not perfect.

Why Rowan?

I think it goes back to the fact that everyone knows everyone here. At first, I wanted to go to a big school, but I felt like I was just a number there. Rowan’s faculty to student ratio is perfect for me. I can get personalized help or tutoring or raise my hand in class at Rowan. I like the small school feeling at Rowan, even though Rowan isn’t small.

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

Photos provided by:
Talia Tomarchio, senior computer science major

#PROFspective: Junior Computer Science Major Alex Levinson

Today we speak with Alex Levinson, a junior Computer Science major from East Windsor, New Jersey (Mercer County). He lives on-campus in the Townhouses, and he is involved with Student University Programmers, Neurodiversity Club, and Colleges Against Cancer

Alex poses with his stocking.

Why did you choose your major?

I chose my major because I’ve always loved technology-related activities, and my dad was also a computer science major in college. I thought this would be the perfect major for me. I love working with technology and learning how computers work. I like learning about programming too. I might go into IT after graduating. 

How do you feel that the clubs and activities you are involved with on-campus fulfill you?

The clubs I am involved with, Student University Programmers, Neurodiversity Club, and Colleges Against Cancer, fulfill me because they give me a nice break from, you know, doing schoolwork, and also allows me to get to know my peers and other people on campus. 

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

Computer Science is a really great major, and with how common technology is nowadays, there is so much you can do with this major and in this field. It is important to work hard in the major, but in the end, it is worth it.  

Alex poses with an ice cream cone.

What impact would you like to have on the world by going into your field?

Computers and technology, in general, are so common nowadays, it feels good to help technology move forward and stay up to date with technology in the future. Also, the more I learn about computers and how they work, the more I am able to help others who may not be as proficient in technology as I am. If someone were to ask me for help with their computer, I would be able to help them fix any problems or explain how to use certain functions of their computer. 

Is there a professor that has helped you get where you are today in your major?

I had Professor John Manz, an adjunct professor, for a programming class. I was not very good at programming, but he explained it very well, and some of the programming concepts clicked in my brain after taking his class. 

Alex poses outdoors.

How was your transition to Rowan?

My transition to Rowan was mostly good. I handled it a lot better than I thought I would, being in a whole new environment and not having my parents with me every day.  I was able to get through this by having weekly Skype sessions with my parents. There are also times where I am able to visit home, or they are able to visit me.

Why did you choose Rowan?

I chose Rowan because I really liked the campus. I like to compare the campus to the Goldilocks and the Three Bears. It’s not too big, not too small. It’s just right. We have a main street, which is something I wanted in a college, and Rowan Boulevard. I thought the size of Rowan was a perfect fit for me.  

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

Photos provided by:
Alex Levinson, junior computer science major

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Phillip standing outside.

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Emilio standing outside of the Science building.

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Caitlin standing outside of the library.

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Erin sitting outside of the Science Hall.

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Alisa standing outside of Robinson Hall.

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Serena sitting on a bench outside.

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Exterior shot of the side of Campbell Library.

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Jean Han standing outside.

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Viles of blue liquid.

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Trevor outside.

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