Leadership, Passion & Purpose Through Vietnamese Student Association

Cindy stands next to the Science Hall sign.

A Highlight of Student Life at Rowan University Meet Cindy Nguyen, a rising senior biochemistry major, with minors in neuroscience and psychology. She is a commuter from Voorhees, New Jersey, and is here to discuss her role as president in the Vietnamese Student Association. Can you describe the goals of the Vietnamese Student Association? “With VSA, […]

75 Things Out-Of-State Students Love About Rowan University

A student wearing a Rowan yellow dress and Rowan brown graduation gown tosses her graduation cap in the air in front of the Rowan University arch sign.

This story is a part of Rowan’s centennial series to celebrate 100 years of Rowan University. Rowan Blog contributor Jordyn Dauter, a junior from Quakertown, PA, double majoring in elementary education and dance, collected these insights from fellow students.  David Martinek, a graduate student in the MS Teaching: Theatre program from Glen Burnie, Maryland:“I like […]

Transfer Nutrition & Dietetics Majors Share Their Professional Goals

A stock image from Pexels showing a close up of a variety of densely packed fruits and vegetables.

What internships, clubs, networking, etc. are you involved in and how do they support your goals? “Wellness Center Intern, Vice President at Nutrition Care Club, Success Coach with Rowan Student Success Program, Apart of Cohort 7 in the Coordinated Program in Dietetics.” – Kathleen Ramos, senior transfer student from Brookdale Community College “I don’t participate much […]

Rowan University NAACP President on Cultivating a Caring Community for Students of Color

This Black History Month we hear from Esther Lendore, president of Rowan NAACP, on her journey as a Rowan student and her passion for creating a sense of community for students of color.  A double major in political science and law & justice studies, senior Esther Lendore, from Far Rockaway, NY, holds a variety of […]

A Look Inside Geo Information Systems With Jackie Ganter & Danielle Miller

Four members of Geo Lab discuss a project while outside holding equipment.

Geographical Information Systems (GIS) majors and graduating seniors, Danielle Miller and Jackie Ganter, give insight into what the GIS major entails and its impact. What is GIS? According to Danielle, “geographic information science, it’s the analysis of data sets, the creation of maps, and other imagery.” She went on to give her point of view […]

Going Away to College Close to Home: Deptford Resident Living On Campus

Asiya stands outside on campus on a chilly day.

Rowan Blog contributor and senior writing arts major Asiya Robinson, from Deptford, NJ (Gloucester County), shares a first-person perspective on going away to college close to home. Asiya’s hometown is approximately 20 minutes from Rowan. As a student, Asiya lives on campus, is a member of student clubs, and balances academics with both an on-campus […]

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 […]

Why Civil Engineers Build Concrete Canoes & How it Benefits Them

A close up of the side of the Rowan concrete canoe.

Civil Engineering Majors Learn, Network & Race in ASCE Competition In the annual concrete canoe competition, Rowan University Civil Engineering students and the American Society of Civil Engineers, alongside engineering students from other schools in the area, compete. Each engineering team must determine what kind and mixture of lighter materials they should combine with the […]

How Political Science Majors Can Grow Through Research and Internships: A Conversation with Professor Markowitz

The student government association president sits at his desk for a interview.

Like most political science majors, Professor Lawrence Markowitz was originally set on entering law school after he had completed his undergraduate degree. However, after a brief internship in law that exposed him to what big law was like, some time off and a tour of Western Europe exposed him to the alluring complexities of international relations. He has since then become an expert on and published work on a variety of topics from political violence to state building with a focus on post-Soviet Eurasia and is the current chair of the political science department at Rowan University.

Transitioning from one field of study to another presented new opportunities to learn not only in the classroom but by working as well, “I interned for human rights on international affairs, then decided that I wanted to go into the field, but knew I needed a little bit more of a regional focus and a little bit more language skills.” The 1990s changed the landscape of international politics as the Soviet Union fell, providing Professor Markowitz with an opportunity that most people for close to 70 years only could dream about. As he waited to see which university would be his home for his master’s degree, he says, “While my applications were being reviewed, the year before I started my master’s, I went overseas to Moscow and did a study abroad language study for about five months in Moscow.” Even after starting his master’s degree in the fall of 1995, trips to Armenia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Russia again all helped add to his depth of knowledge–something that can be seen and heard when sitting in his class. 

Professor Markowitz stands in front of a slide labed "The Politics of Multiculturalism" with his hand pointing to some of the bullet points such as "Why is multiculturalism important?" and "How does multiculturalism matter?". There is a student in the foreground taking notes.

What Professor Markowitz does for students extends outside the classroom setting, helping to guide students through their academic career. The vision he has for his department has been carefully put together to maximize the potential of students, “In political science, the faculty spends a good amount of time talking about and thinking about putting together a curriculum that builds multiple skills and helps broaden students in a variety of ways. Obviously on the most superficial level, we want you to cover the basic topics, themes, and theories and to know the material in political science. That’s the obvious. Underlying that, we’re developing a lot of the skills and less tangible abilities that will serve you over the long term.” The benefits of the skills you learn exceed being able to think more analytically or write better, “For example, how to impose and support an argument through compelling logic and evidence. If you go into law, that is obviously relevant, but in any field you’re going to be able to do that. You want to ask for a raise? That’s a good tool to have–the ability to craft an argument and to think through how to support it.”

Even when diving into the specifics of what you learn, Professor Markowitz ensures that students leave class with a better understanding of the world around them. The experiences he’s had in his own studies, research, and travels are all passed onto the students to provide a well-rounded approach to the topics covered in class. Helping students craft well thought out opinions on the world comes from taking a look at the world around them and analyzing the pros and cons in the differences, “If you just look at your experience in the U.S. and you look at the U.S. and try to interpret the U.S. American politics and the world around you and the economy, without having that broader perspective, you only have a limited view. In comparative politics and in the Russian politics class I teach we talk about themes, such as in the comparative politics class I teach, one day we do welfare states, we look at social programs, we look at Germany’s pensions and version of social security and its health care.” As much as Professor Markowitz seeks to help develop his students ability to learn and think critically outside the classroom, opportunities outside the classroom are equally as important. 

While many students think primarily of internships, there are other opportunities that are available to students as well. Research opportunities are also available to students, an opportunity that helps a student branch out, “Students in their undergrad years, if they can work with a professor on a research paper project or conduct research for their classes, that is a big opportunity and advantage. In other words, they’re working on a paper and have a wide range of themes, but develop over time where your interests are.”  Traditional internships are always available to students. The benefits to those are clear, “But also: not just research, but doing work within organizations or on campaigns, getting involved in various ways in politics;  there’s a lot of opportunities for that.” There was also an emphasis on how lucky students are to have three major cities (New York, Washington DC, and Philadelphia) all within relative proximity to campus for tangible hands-on experience. Opportunities are boundless to those who look for them, with the staff helping students find positions for them to not only grow in, but find success as well. With both the Rowan Institute for Public Policy and Citizenship (RIPPAC) offering internship opportunities and the College of Humanities & Social Sciences offering a wide variety of internships, the possibilities available are varied.  Rowan’s study abroad program also adds a layer of depth to the chances that students can create for themselves by immersing themselves in the cultures they’ve spent time studying in the classroom. 

As much as Professor Markowtiz sees opportunities for students’ growth within their own fields of study, he also believes that students should expand their horizons by taking classes outside of what their area of focus is. Undergraduate studies provide students with the opportunities to explore a variety of interests, “First of all, even before selecting, but also after selecting a major, they should take a wide range of classes and explore. We’re one of the few countries on the planet, historically one of the few countries where you have a liberal arts education and you can take a range of classes and just take something in art or biology just because you want to learn about biology.” But when picking classes, students should not just choose randomly, but pick based on how it could relate to future careers, “If they go into law, then political science is a good major, but then the question is, ‘What kind of law might they be interested in?’ They don’t have to decide for sure, but if they are randomly thinking they might want to go into corporate law, then doing a minor or CUGS (Certificates in Undergraduate Studies) in something in finance or business makes sense. If they want to go into family law, then maybe doing a minor in psychology makes sense.” Finding a balance to broadening your horizons and narrowing down what a student is key to academic success. 

Professor Markowitz is standing in front of the board with his hand out stretched lecturing to his students.

Rowan’s political science department gives students the tools they need to succeed through lessons taught in the classroom, to the doors that lead to the professional world. When asked about what makes this university produce graduates who are so competitive, Professor Markowitz was quick to give credit to his colleagues, “We have a lot of faculty, especially in our College of Humanities & Social Sciences, who research within these fields. Most of them are at the high levels in their particular sub-field; they’re specialized. They are experts and they’re among the top experts in the broader fields that they’re in.” The staff aims not just to research for their own benefit, but to also help students stay on the cutting edge of information, to help them stay competitive in their fields of study. Professor Markowitz is not wrong when he says, “They’re not someone who is never interacting with undergrads and they don’t know how to talk about their research topic in everyday terms. We have that great mix, we have a dozen people or so in every discipline that have that kind of specialization and expertise. For the price tag, it’s a pretty good deal.”

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Story by:

Thomas Ubelhoer, sophomore political science and international studies double major

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 […]

Q&A With a Senior Public Health and Wellness Major & Rowan Choice Student

Theresa Bennett stands outside her internship at Inspira Health Network with their logo behind her.

Public Health & Wellness Major Discusses Her Passion for Public Health & Wellness, her internship and professional goals Senior Theresa Bennett, from Trenton, NJ (Mercer County) joined Rowan through the Rowan Choice program, a partnership with community college RCSJ that allows students to live on Rowan University’s campus while taking 24-30 community college credits, which […]

My Home Away from Home, The United Latino Association

Student clubs and organizations fair.

Julianna Wells, a junior political science major from Oak Ridge, NJ (Passaic/Morris Counties), shares this first-person perspective on how joining the The United Latino Association at Rowan University helped her rewrite her experience and find a home away from home. In addition to her major, Julianna will earn certificates of undergraduate study (known as CUGS) in Spanish, public policy and public relations and the news. 

Julianna poses for a beautiful portrait in front of the owl statue on campus, with her hair curled, wearing a white shirt and blank pants.

For the entirety of my life prior to attending Rowan University, I lived in a predominantly white town. As a Latina, this experience came with its own challenges. I never saw anyone who shared my own culture, my own language, or even looked like me. Needless to say, it was a very sheltering experience. At times, I even experienced harassment due to my own ethnicity. I would receive anonymous messages telling me I would end up selling drugs and mowing lawns in my future. I was even told to go back over the border. Yet, besides the harassment, all I ever wanted was to feel less alone. So many people value having at least some friendships and connections that share the same culture and backgrounds. With that being the thing I craved all those years, I was looking forward to starting my life on a college campus and meeting a whole new world of people. 

United Latino Association board members with Minority Association for Pre-Medical Students board members & Pre-Law Society board members.
Julianna (back row, third from left) with United Latino Association board members and Minority Association for Pre-Medical Students board members & Pre-Law Society board members.

Once I finally left my hometown and came to the Rowan University campus, I was determined to rewrite my experience. It was at the student organization fair where I met my home. The United Latino Association caught my eye as it was the only Latine organization I saw as I combed through the rows of tables. I wrote my name and email on their sign-up sheet immediately. From there, I attended a handful of events and made the decision to run for their electoral board.

Julianna and a friend look at each other candidly in the Student Center with lights behind them.

As a result, I was the new treasurer for the last academic year and couldn’t have been more grateful for that opportunity. Throughout the year, the friends I made in this organization were no longer just friends, but family. From meeting those who share the same cultural background, to learning how to dance to Latin music better, to even bettering my own second language, my life on campus and in general had been forever changed. Due to how sheltered I felt in high school, I didn’t have too many friends but this was no longer the case at ULA. For every event I attended, I felt l a bit closer to home. 

Julianna stands with a friend in front of the iconic owl statue on campus, with yellow balloons by her side and a classic "first day of school" blackboard with chalkboard for the date September 5, 2023.

What’s more is that with being on the board, I was able to help this organization grow and prosper, myself included. I saw our family go from just 30 members to around 160 members. I think my favorite memory with all of the members was when we all came together for a dance night to learn salsa, bachata, cumbia, and other dances that people wanted to share. I have loved my time being a part of this organization and board so much that I decided to run for president for the upcoming academic year, and I won! The shy, alone Latina I once was prior to university was now a figment of my imagination. It has been practically mind-boggling to reflect on the difference between my experience from high school to my experience at Rowan University all because I was able to join just one organization. Needless to say, ULA has become my home away from home. 

ULA Valentine’s Day Speed Friending Event.
ULA at last Valentine’s Day speed friending event.

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Written by: Julianna Wells, junior political science major

Story edited by: Valentina Giannattasio, junior dance and marketing double major

Neurodiversity Student Government Representative Advocates for Autism Awareness and Education

A close up of Heather as she sits smiling at Robinson Circle on Rowan University's campus.

One Rowan University Student Breaks Down Barriers All Year Round, Not Just During Awareness Months In 1997, sociologist Judy Singer introduced a new terminology to the world of science/medical world called neurodiversity, which is a concept that helps those to understand that there are varied ways that each person’s brain processes information, functions, and presents […]

Finding My Home Away from Home at Rowan University Through the Student Organization Fair

Students walking around the Rowan clubs fair event featuring different clubs and organizations on campus.

Nicholas Wright, a junior health science communication and communication studies double major, from Gloucester County, NJ shares this first-person perspective on how he found a home away from home on Rowan campus.

As a freshman at Rowan University, I was nervous about the transition from high school to college. I had heard stories from friends and family members about how difficult it can be to adjust to a new environment, but I was determined to make the most of my college experience.

One of my biggest concerns was finding my place on campus. I wanted to get involved in activities and clubs, but I didn’t know where to start. Luckily, during my first week at Rowan, I stumbled upon the student activities fair.

The student activities fair is an event where all the clubs and organizations on campus set up tables to showcase their group and recruit new members. I was amazed at the variety of groups available, from academic clubs to sports teams to service organizations. As I walked around the fair, I was struck by the passion and enthusiasm of the students involved in each group.

A Rowan student walking around the Student Activities fair event featuring different clubs and organizations.

After talking to a few club representatives, I decided to join the International Student Association. As an international student myself, I was excited to meet other students who shared my background and interests. Joining the club was one of the best decisions I made during my freshman year. I was able to make friends, learn about different cultures, and participate in fun events and activities throughout the year.

In addition to the International Student Association, I also joined the Rowan Ambassadors program. The Rowan Ambassadors serve as official hosts and representatives of the university at events such as open houses and campus tours. Through the program, I was able to develop my leadership skills, meet other students who were passionate about representing Rowan, and gain valuable experience in event planning and public speaking.

Aside from the clubs and activities, I also found a sense of community through my professors and academic advisors. Whenever I needed guidance or support, they were always there to offer their expertise and advice. They helped me navigate the transition to college and provided me with the resources and support I needed to succeed in my classes.

Looking back on my freshman year, I am grateful for the opportunities and experiences that Rowan University has provided me with. From joining clubs to building relationships with professors, I have found a home away from home on this campus. If you’re a future college student or parent, I encourage you to explore all that Rowan has to offer. It may seem daunting at first, but with an open mind and a willingness to try new things, you can find your place on this campus too.

Read this story for another perspective of the student organization fair from upperclassmen involved on campus. 

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Written by: Nicholas Wright, junior health science communication and communication studies double major

Story edited by: Valentina Giannattasio, junior dance and marketing double major

‘MIS’sion International: International Student on Management Information Systems Major [VIDEO]

Osvaldo smiles at the camera while outside wearing a bright yellow Rowan shirt.

Osvaldo Rosi, an international student from the Dominican Republic, gives his insight on Rowan’s international program and his experience as a management information systems major. 

Osvaldo Rosi, originally from the Dominican Republic, is a senior management information systems major with a minor in business analytics and a certificate in cybersecurity. He originally moved to America in 2020 with his family, seeing it as a land of opportunity to further his career outside of his home country. 

He says his Rowan experience was amazing from the start: “I applied to around 20 universities in the area and was accepted to all of them, but to me Rowan was a big campus but with everything concentrated in one place. When I visited Rowan I felt at home, everything from Rowan Boulevard to the academic buildings just felt right. The energy in the student center and other places around campus is something that really inspired me to be here.”

Osvaldo talks with his friends outside on a bench.

Osvaldo feels like he made the best choice with Rowan, especially with the international student program: “I think that Rowan really offers opportunities to all international students with the program that they have. They give us the opportunity to be involved with American culture and its students. Everything is networking, so being able to be involved with different cultures and see different points of view, it really helps to open your mind. Rowan gave me all the resources I needed to be successful here.” In fact, Osvaldo currently serves as the vice president of the International Club, where he helps fellow international students get adjusted to their Rowan experience: “My job is to help international students around campus and help introduce them to the resources Rowan has to offer. Our job as a club is to help students get involved around campus, with their advisors, and other things to help them through the process.”

Osvaldo and his friends look at something on a tablet while sitting together outside.Touching a bit more specifically on his major, Osvaldo explains: “Management information systems is the science that studies people, organizations, technology, and companies. We are like the bridge between technology and people. We try to take all of the data and create ways for companies to make better decisions with the implementation of technology in their companies.” Osvaldo also elaborates on the importance of management information systems, especially in the modern-day surge of workplace technology: “The best part about this major is that you can be involved in any area of the company. You can be in finance, you can be in marketing, you can be in human resources, because in the end we try to implement technology into all the functions that any company has.”

As far as his advice to incoming Profs goes, Osvaldo had a simple message to send: “Live every day. Enjoy your time. Take advantage of all the resources that Rowan can offer to you. You can get jobs, you can be involved with campus activities, you can be involved with clubs. In the end, the big word for me is networking. If you can make connections here, they are connections you’ll take with you all your life. Be open to learning, and be open to new experiences.”

More specifically to any students considering the management information systems program, Osvaldo has this to say: “The world is changing every day, because we have technology. My major offers you the opportunity to always be in stride with technology. If you change with the technology, you will always be involved and job secure. MIS offers you those kinds of opportunities.”

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Story by Connor Bicknell, senior communication studies major

Promoting a Pastime: Sports Communication & Media Major’s Journey to the Big Leagues

A student standing in front of a Major League Baseball work desk.

Coby O’Brien, a sports communication and media major from Toms River, NJ (Ocean County) who will graduate this fall, details his incredible experience as a social media coordinator for Major League Baseball.

As a sports communication and media major (Called sports CAM), Coby hones interests that span the fields of radio, television, and film (RTF) production, public relations, and advertising. Currently, he works at Major League Baseball (MLB) as a social media coordinator. Describing his day-to-day work experience, Coby says, “What we do is scour the internet and try to create graphics or videos to hype up games, and intrigue people to learn about the players more. It’s a lot of player promotion, but the core of what we do in the social editorial department is watching baseball games and posting highlights.”

In his short time being there, only a few months, he already is very happy and proud of his work. “My proudest accomplishment was I had a couple posts go viral. My first one was a post at the end of spring training, I got over 500,000 likes on that one.”

Coby’s path to success had started at a different school, in a different program. “I still can’t believe it when I think about it. But freshman year, I was like, I’m going to be a doctor of physical therapy. Then I realized I can’t do math. So I was like, I’m going to write about sports. I want to be a broadcaster. And the school I transferred from didn’t have that stuff. So, at the start of my junior year I transferred to Rowan and joined our sports CAM program.” As a transfer student, Coby had to adjust to a new school and a new environment. However, he was able to quickly make friends, join clubs, and make the important connections he needed to be able to advance his career.A student standing in front of a mlb work desk.

Like plenty of successful Profs, Coby attributes just about all of his success and his opportunities to Rowan and the options that the curriculum offered. Additionally, he gives some insight on just how deeply the Rowan connection runs: “Everything I have is because of Rowan. I can’t really say it any other way. Like of course I did the work, but none of my opportunities would even be close to what I have now without them, it feels like I’d have no chance in my career if it wasn’t for Rowan. My first boss at my first internship was a Rowan grad. My second internship was with Rowan Athletics. My third was through Rowan because Rowan has a partnership with Delaware Bluecoats or the G-league team, the Sixers,  and now my boss is a Rowan grad as well. So every step along the way, I was lucky to have Rowan.” This, Coby says, is important to remember when getting involved. You never know when a fellow Prof can help you out in the future, so making connections, as Coby did, is of the utmost importance.

In closing, Coby has a very simple piece of advice for any new Profs coming in who are just starting their Rowan experience and looking to branch out: “Get involved. And then once you have the experience on campus, apply everywhere. For an internship, no place is too small for you. And no place is too big for you. Apply everywhere.”

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Story by Connor Bicknell, senior communication studies major

Making the Most of Student Leadership: Admissions Ambassador, President of National Honor Fraternity, and Student Government Association Member Reflects

Mark wears his graduation gown for a close up portrait.

What is your favorite part of the program? My favorite part of the program is the connections that I have made with people. I have made some of my best friends, but also so many connections with the professional staff at Rowan. I know so many people on this campus, and a lot of it […]

From Seeds to 75 Pounds of Donated Produce to the On Campus Food Pantry, Introducing the Community Garden

Mariana the garden chair stands with two volunteers.

When you see a garden bursting with beautiful flowers and fresh produce, many stand to admire and indulge in the product. However, while eating these foods, commonly you don’t see the face that nourished these plants before they came into your possession. Mariana Cardenas is one of the faces behind the seeds. A master’s student […]

Building a Community: Raymond Wos Jr’s Undergraduate Experience

Raymond standing in front of Bunce Hall with the pride lights shining onto the building in the distance behind him.

Rising senior Raymond Wos Jr. (he/him/his) from Gloucester County, NJ, is a subject-matter history major and double minor in both international studies and political science, and he’s also heavily involved with the inner workings of campus as a leader of change. Today he will share with us his personal journey and contributions to the University community. 

At what point did you become comfortable with your sexuality and disability both with yourself and expressing it to other people?

For my disability, I was diagnosed at the age of 6 and then that was with my Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Then I came out as bisexual, being comfortable with it and couldn’t hold it in to myself around my second year in community college so I was probably 18 or 19 years old at the time. I was thinking I feel comfortable with myself and realizing that I needed to be comfortable with these identities regardless and there’s nothing wrong or imperfect about me, it’s just that I know I am the best version I can possibly be and I can be proud of my identities without any criticism or any backlash from these issues.

What has Rowan done to make you feel accepted as part of the LGBQTIA+ community on campus and what gave you the courage to give back to the Rowan community?

As an individual, realizing how much empowerment and power I have on this campus, I realized as someone who’s a part of it but also realizing there’s so many more identities that need to be represented through SGA (Student Government Association) and many other facets I’m involved with. It’s just shown the amount this institution will give, but there’s always room for improvement regardless. However, there’s times where I’m in these roles to make change and I was able to help create legislation throughout the year. One of them, this past spring, I had written a piece of a resolution for transgender rights, acknowledgement, and more condensed stuff on our campus through the wellness center and many other facets of the community. With everything that’s happened within the trans community today outside of Rowan, it just shows that we need to pay more attention to these issues. Since we are not really, this is the first to take a course of action that I’ve done with PRISM and so forth to make this thing happen and it did pass. We’re now working together collaboratively with several offices in particular. Right now at the moment, with the Wellness Center we’re making sure they have fantastic resources for our trans community on this campus. 

What drew you to get involved with Rowan’s Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and can you share what you have accomplished in your role as AVP?

My time in the role as Assistant Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, I have completed a lot during my time. I’ve written at least 3 to 4 different resolutions that’s helped many facets of the Disabled community, mental health, and LGBTQIA+ community this past year and made sure there was an emphasis on the importance that these communities need to be represented on this campus and making sure of it. I’ve helped write responses to things that have happened within our community through the backlash that’s happened at Holly Point and even on Twitter where people posted derogatory terms. My well known accomplishment that I’m really proud of is getting a Rowan Announcer created for Judy Heumann, who’s an internationally recognized Disability Rights advocate and leader throughout this nation. She recently passed in March and I got that settled by writing articles and blogs that were published in the campus newspaper, The Whit and DEI blog about it so there’s a lot of work I’ve gotten done.

There are a lot of accomplishments that have happened throughout the academic year. However, I’ve also attended a lot of cultural events, I’ve worked with The BSU (Black Student Union) and NAACP to try and support the local community around me within these facets, within the Division of DEI. But most importantly I do work in the office of Social Justice, Inclusion, and Conflict Resolution office with Tara Ferrucci and Dominique Pierson who are in charge of the facilities over there. They’re absolutely amazing people. Just gaining more knowledge for their office and working collaboratively with them, even super close with them. Besides that I’m involved within the facet of the Division of DEI, I’m involved in 8 committees they have on campus related to DEI. I’m so embedded into it I understand where the Division is leading to but also how I can help them and give the student perspective as much as possible. I’m proud that I’m able to give that and have faculty, staff, students, and many other supporters understand what I do and how much I care from the student body perspective and how much change I want to see, but also for future generations to realize it’s a lot to consider. But it needed to be done for us. 

Raymond smiles big relaxing in a yellow chair at night with Bunce Hall behind him.

What moments at Rowan gave you the confidence to up such a large role in representing the LGBQTIA+ community?

The reason why is because it’s not for me personally, it’s not represented as a big facet that I was hoping for. Since I had my predecessor, Alex Butler, they were a part of the LGBTQIA+ community as well. I felt a motivation– a very high interest in making a change, but also being a part of a community and realizing I do have a voice as well as seeing the facets of the community, realizing as a person in the community and as an ally, there are so many problems and issues that are not being mentioned in and out of our institution and how we’re going to fix them. I realized I can make a change, not just within the LGBTQIA+ community, but so many other communities that I am not a part of but also within my own disabled identities as well because I feel like they’re left out of the conversation. In addition, neurodiversity is a part of it as well that is missing in these conversations. I just don’t see these issues through my queer and disabled perspective. All these lenses of identities have different facets and need to be represented on campus. The role has gotten bigger and the perception of it has gotten bigger and people may not realize it. 

What challenges have you had to navigate through your time here as an undergraduate student here that other students might not have had to?

For me personally, I have navigated here at Rowan through different challenges. I was a transfer and commuter student here on this campus and it was a very different environment. I transferred the semester that COVID happened and I was here probably two and half to three months in person then COVID hit, then schools shutdown, spring break was two weeks that got extended. From there I learned online and everything else. We went to a universal design type of platform like Zoom and WebEx and learning that way was very different in the beginning, but now it’s a tool that utilizes a lot more than I was expecting to use– I’m grateful I was able to use it. But it’s always been a challenge, also being a student who doesn’t share a lot sometimes. Also, now becoming more comfortable and being empowered, I was able to represent myself on this campus being a transfer from a community college and a commuter. The other facets of my identity I represent on this campus, I have decided to make myself a powerful voice and I think a lot of people have seen that within the last year and a half through every facet of this University.

Are there certain goals that you have set out to achieve whether it’s spreading acceptance or reforming previously held views at the university level that you have achieved?

Some of the things that I personally have achieved during my time here, I can definitely tell you one of my goals is intersectionality which is something that is so important in realizing that we do have a sense of community. It’s also that we need to realize our individuality and we do have a sense of purpose, but also we’re able to have different identities but can relate to each other through this intersectionality. We realize we can share the same experiences but some of us might have it easier than others as expected. I think that’s a philosophy the position needs to have and realize, yes, I can be a person who is a cis white man that is bisexual and disabled and realize I face challenges within two identities, but being a cis white man isn’t a challenge because there’s so many benefits I get from society. But the other identities that I can’t because of how things are structured and how things are happening in our society.

Another one was mental health within DEI. I have passed a legislation resolution to get mental health resources to our campus student website, Canvas, hopefully that’s being implemented soon. Another legislation resolution that I’ve passed again that I have mentioned previously was the transgender awareness legislation and getting the Wellness Center to be more accepting and being open and having it be more accessible.

Another thing I was trying to hit upon was writing opinion pieces and stuff like that within other communities like BIPOC, Neurodiversity, within Disabled, within LGBTQIA+ and I felt like we have gotten there by expanding with our Rowan DEI blog which is absolutely amazing. I highly encourage everyone to check it out, it’s very nice.

A new goal that I was about to start on this campus and it might transition to our next AVP of DEI will be creating a Disability Student Union. From all the conversations and what I’ve been seeing, the empowerment from other communities being seen on campus has been absolutely empowering. It gave power to those who had a voice and gave it and became a force that was not to be reckoned with and being able to make an important change on this campus. But now, since seeing that having an organization called a Disability Student Union in the near future will be a huge benefit to this institution to make change. I think that is something we should look forward to and hopefully will be seeing in the near future. Those are some of my initiatives but there are many more besides that.

Are there specific moments that stand out to you that show the growth within the community at Rowan?

Seeing people becoming more of a family and realizing we’re coming and growing as individuals, but also as people within our society. Also within our clubs and organizations a lot of them are becoming more closely knit and trying to work on my collaboration ideas and working together– it’s a start. Plus we’ve been out of the pandemic and been fully back into school, full fledged with all these activities and everything else for about a year or two now. We’re still rebuilding that stage up again. I think we’ll need a few more years to do it, but I think the communities, the sense of belonging, and what we’re trying to bring to Rowan, seeing the potential next year is gonna be really good. We’re going in the right direction.

Are you satisfied with the changes you’ve helped create at Rowan and what would you like the next crop of students to do to carry on your work here?

For the legacy I left is definitely having empathy for others, but also having empathy that happened on this campus where we need to have a shared responsibility to care for one another and also empower each other. To give each other the power to make change and evolve as a whole and work collaboratively with SGA, with all these various organizations to really make change and challenge the administration to do better, but also to make them more knowledgeable on issues that we’re facing at this time. For the next crop of students, I want them to realize that empathy will go far and wide, showing kindness to others will take a great deal of responsibility for these roles and of these executives for what we’re trying to do for the future. Students should realize just overall empathy, love, and kindness will always take you far in what you do in these careers.

Can you talk about your next steps after you graduate?

After I graduate I want to become a high school history teacher, somewhere locally or somewhere within the state of New Jersey to work with students in history. To show them what the potential of history is, but also destigmatizing history, showing there is so much more potential in history, what is undiscovered, and showing what we learn in the classroom is not always true. We have to challenge what writers have perceived and what has been written by the victors. We need to do better and realize there’s other historical information out there, many more historians have better writing and so forth like that. In the near future, after I’m done teaching for a few years, I want to come back to Rowan and do a double master’s of arts program in Special Education and the Diversity and Inclusion program as well. Having those two facets of programs combined together and working on it, I will have the potential to grow as a self-advocate, an advocate, and an activist, and something bigger within the state or locally. That’s my goal for the future.

After your experience with Rowan, after your experience with community college, how has your education experience impacted how you will teach?

What I have learned during my time here and my time at community college is that if you have something you have your mind to and you put it to it and as someone who’s going into a teaching career, you’re gonna be able to have the same determination and the same energy you want to bring into the classroom. You want to make an impact on these students to be engaged and learn the material you’re teaching them, but go beyond that and have more of a special interest in topics in history. But even more, realizing the importance of having humanities and history in our society to still exist. Where today it’s falling apart in some of the different states, we’re losing humanities, music, and sports throughout public education. We need to refocus our energy throughout the nation to make sure we bring back humanities and I want people to realize they’re equally as important as the STEM fields.

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Written by Thomas Ubelhoer, rising junior political science and international studies double major

#PROFspective: First-Year Student Talks Exploratory Studies & Accepted Students Day

Close up of a smiling Kayla.

What is Exploratory Studies? “Exploratory studies means that you do not have a set major; you’re exploring what you want to do. You have the opportunity to take classes that you are interested in. I took a Disaster Preparedness & Emergency Management course because it caught my interest. From there, if I decide that this […]

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

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

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

From Political Science Student to Political Operative

Connor talks to two people.

Originally intent on a completely different major, that changed after Connor attended Dr. Lawrence Markowitz’s talk on Russian collusion in American elections. Although he quickly changed majors to political science, he did not want to lose other areas of interest that had been a big part of his life growing up, causing him to pick […]

#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 […]

Graduate Student Sarah Salazar Shares Advice For Future Engineering Majors

Sarah working in an engineering lab.

Today we feature graduate student Sarah Salazar from Galloway, NJ (Atlantic County), who earned her Rowan bachelor’s in chemical engineering and is continuing her time with a master’s in chemical engineering. She shares her advice for incoming engineering students. Learn more about Sarah’s research.

A portrait of Sarah in an engineering lab.How did you discover that engineering was right for you?

So in high school I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. I knew that I loved all my science classes, loved my math classes, and both were things that I was actually really good at. So I kind of just took that and did some quick research and saw chemical engineering and I said to myself, “Okay, I’m gonna roll with this and see what comes out of this. If I don’t like it, it’s not the end of the world, I could always switch out of my major.’” That’s how I fell into this program. 

Choosing engineering was a rollercoaster of emotion – but not in a negative way. At first, it was very overwhelming. I couldn’t help but think, ‘why did I choose this major? Why do I want to study this much?’ 

During orientation one of my major fears about being an engineer was that I wouldn’t have any social life. I confidently said to myself that I’m choosing this major, but I’m freaking out too because I’m scared that I’m not going to have any friends or not going to have any time to go out and experience college life. 

This many years in, I can say I was completely wrong. I honestly knew that from even the first day that I got here. What really made the experience amazing is the people in our engineering community. 

When I finished my bachelor’s here, I didn’t have to choose Rowan for my graduate program. I had actually applied to a couple different places, but I really wanted to stay in a lab that I was familiar with and continue learning from the graduate students and from my advisors. Dr. Joe Stanzione advised me with a few options, but I ended up choosing here because that’s where I felt most comfortable and I ultimately was excited to continue my education here.

A wide shot of Holly Pointe Commons.Where did you live on campus?

I started off in the Engineering Learning Community (ELC) as a first-year student in Holly Pointe Commons. I lived in this pod section that was only engineers. This is where I had met a few of my best friends who I still hang out with today. It’s nice because your program also starts off with first-year and sophomore engineering clinic. In those classes there would be so many familiar faces because we’d all see each other frequently in Holly Pointe.

By junior year I was in only engineering classes and I became really close with my graduating class. This tight knit group of about 50 or so people would always just be hanging out and studying together – because we were in this together. I would say that’s what really got me through the entire education. We’re putting in so many hours a week studying for exams and doing homework together. The camaraderie, being genuinely good friends, making each other laugh during tough times, made this program so worthwhile. 

Sarah working in the engineering lab.Are you involved in any clubs?

I was involved in Engineers Without Borders, which was my favorite club that serves local and international communities. I would go to all the meetings and ended up getting positions on the executive board. The cool thing about Engineers Without Borders is that it’s a nonprofit club and because of that, any student from any discipline can join – not just engineers. There are a lot of mechanical engineers, civil engineers, chemical engineers, biomedical engineers, so it’s helpful to have variety so each person can put their knowledge together to come up with simple solutions.

When I was involved, we had this one project for a Camden community garden that ran sustainably. There was a modified bike that pumped water throughout the garden if you rode it. So small things like that are rewarding because you are helping out these local communities, and it’s something to put on your resume.

There are a lot of good opportunities. I even attended my first conference. The group went across the country to San Francisco to network with other students who, too, are in Engineering Without Borders. So I would definitely recommend the club for personal and professional development.

Any last advice?

The biggest piece of advice I have is to get involved and maintain a work-life balance. Before, I was really scared to go into engineering because I was nervous about not getting the college experience. But honestly, everybody’s scared going into college. It’s such a big change being on your own! Not having your parents there to cook and give you the support they have given you all your life is initially really intimidating. Find your space. For me, being in the engineering community really helped with that. Creating my own family and support system at Rowan got me through the hard times and ultimately gave me the best experience I could ask for. 

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Senior Reflects On How He Found Himself At Rowan

Danny Ryan sits working in front of a microphone at Rowan Radio.

When senior Danny Ryan, a Sports Communication and Media major with concentrations in Sports Journalism and Radio Television & Film Sports Production, with a minor in Marketing, was considering colleges, he wasn’t quite sure what he wanted to do. The Woodbury, NJ (Gloucester County) native shares, “I chose Rowan because of the close proximity to […]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How has your time been here so far at Rowan?

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

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

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

Jonathan is in James Hall sitting in a chair.

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

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

What drew you towards elementary education?

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

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

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

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

What drew you to Rowan? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jonathan is standing and smiling with his arms crossed.

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

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

Jonathan is smiling with his arms crossed.

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

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

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

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

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Story by Lucas Taylor, Graduate English Education 









Beyond the Classroom: Accounting Major Jade Kenny on Her Internship with Subaru

Jade stands in front of a tree, smiling.

Why was Rowan right for you? Jade explains when she was applying to Rowan, her original path drew her to elementary education. For Jade, choosing Rowan was the best of both worlds since it allowed her to study what she believed to be her passion at the time while respecting her parents’ wishes for her […]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s your history with wrestling? 

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

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

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

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

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

Sapjah is standing in front of Bunce flexing her arms.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Story by:
Lucas Taylor, English education graduate student

#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 […]

Second-Generation Rowan Engineering Student Lives Her Legacy

Abigail Cassino sits in a daffodil patch.

September 1996: long before Abigail Cassino was even a thought in her parents’ minds, the foundation was laid for her future legacy. Her parents, Theresa (Gouker) and Chris, met as first-year students at Rowan, part of the first engineering class. Theresa lived in Evergreen Hall; Chris in Mimosa Hall. They met, fell in love, studied alongside one another and graduated with degrees in chemical engineering (Theresa) and civil engineering (Chris). 

September 2023: Abigail stepped on campus as a first-year student majoring in mechanical engineering, embarking on her legacy as only the second Rowan University second-generation engineering student.

Neither she, nor her parents, knew of Abigail’s unique distinction at that time. Abigail Cassino leans against a wall with a reflection of herself bouncing off the wall.

Almost one year ago, Abigail and her parents first toured Rowan, visiting from their home in Maryland. Her parents were wowed by the changes, namely the presence of Rowan Boulevard and the second engineering building, Rowan Hall. Neither existed when they graduated in 2000.

Rowan University was the clear choice for Abigail. “When we toured the engineering building my parents saw several professors they still knew, and the professors still remembered them. They said ‘see that’s what you get here, professors who actually know you for you and who care about your success.'”

Theresa and Abigail Cassino smile in front of a #RowanPROUD sign at Homecoming.
Abigail (right) and her mom, Theresa, being #RowanPROUD at Homecoming.

Though Abigail did not originally set out to major in engineering, having a mom who is your best friend – and also a Ph.D. chemical engineer – has a way of influencing you. “My mom is the one who started it all,” Abigail says. “She is my greatest role model. She is the one who said to give it a shot and apply. And I really do like it.”

Over Abigail’s childhood, she witnessed her parents’ careers grow and blossom from their Rowan roots. The family moved as Theresa and Chris pursued new opportunities. “It was hugely influential,” says Abigail. “I saw them go through tough times, and good times, and how to roll with those changes.”Abigail Cassino sniffs a daffodil in a field.

Being a woman studying in a field heavily dominated by men, Abigail understands it can be challenging for women starting out in STEM. “Women bring something to the table. We have a lot to say,” says Abigail. “Honestly, having more women in this environment makes it a little less intimidating. We really have to work to make our voices heard, which takes effort considering you’re outnumbered.” 

Abigail found that Rowan’s commitment to diversity and inclusion was also evident outside of the classroom. “There are a lot of groups centered around underrepresented groups in STEM,” she says. “I am in the Society of Women Engineers. It’s a good opportunity to talk with other people in the field and learn from them.” 

Abigail has found resources on campus that have helped her succeed. “My advisor in engineering has been amazing,” she says. “As well as being in the engineering learning community [in Holly Pointe Commons.] The engineering department in general is really good with providing resources if you’re having trouble with mental health or school. There is a really big support network here.”Abigail Cassino casually leans on stair railing while smiling.

As she wraps up her first year, Abigail is eager about what’s to come. This semester she joined her mother’s sorority, Theta Phi Alpha, continuing her Rowan legacy in a non-academic fashion. “There’s so much I am excited for,” she says. “I would like to study abroad and I’m really looking forward to my new position as co-sponsorship coordinator with Rowan After Hours (RAH).”

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Story by: Sean Humphrey, senior public relations major
Adeline McDonald

Photos by: Valentina Giannattasio

Lila Dasi Reflects on Her First Year (So Far) as a Biomedical Engineering Major

Lila Dasi posing outside of Bunce Hall at Rowan University

What is your favorite part about attending Rowan University? I think the campus is really pretty and offers a lot of great spaces to sit and relax. I also like that Rowan has a lot of different organizations and clubs on campus for students to be involved in, and to find their community. What inspired […]

#PROFspective: How Senior Jasmine Hull is Working Toward a Better Future in Healthcare

Rowan University Public Health and Wellness major Jasmine stands outside Rowan's Business Hall.

Today we feature senior Public Health and Wellness major Jasmine Hull (she/her) from Mercer County, NJ. Jasmine is living on-campus after transferring to Rowan from Stockton and is a first-generation college student. Here, she gives us some insights into her major and favorite experiences at Rowan. Why did you choose Rowan? Larger sum of transfer […]

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

Janine poses in front of a mural.

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

#PROFspective: Student 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 […]

First Year Voices: A Conversation with Molecular & Cellular Biology Major Laynie Sheppard

Laynie Sheppard is posing inside of Discovery Hall, wearing a white Rowan University t-shirt.

What are some ways you’ve made friends this year? “I’ve made a ton of new friends through my experience in Cru, as well as in my classes. Being there has taught me to be more outgoing.” What is one thing about Rowan that you liked and that encouraged you to enroll? “I loved how small […]

Rowan Engineering Major Benjamin Busler Achieves Dream of Interning for NASA [VIDEO]

Electrical and Computer Engineering major Benjamin Busler is representing Rowan University this semester as a Pathways Intern with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. Benjamin, a junior from Somerset County, is among a select group of students nationwide in NASA’s Pathways program, which offers internships and a direct avenue to future employment with the […]

First Year Voices: Finding My Place at Rowan University as a Music Education Major [VIDEO]

Aaliyah sits in Robinson green.

Today, we introduce you to Aaliyah Jenkins of Mercer County, NJ. Aaliyah, a first-year student, studies Music Education and lives on campus. Could you share a few on-campus activities, clubs, sports or events that you’ve attended so far? What was your favorite, and why? There are many on-campus activities to do. This is because of […]

#PROFspective: What Health Means for Senior Adrianna Blake

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

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

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

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

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

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

How did you come into Rowan?

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

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

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

What is your coursework like being a physical education major?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See our video with Adrianna here:

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Story produced by:
Lucas Taylor, English education graduate student

#PROFspective: Getting to Know Health and Science Communication Major Sedrick Golden

Sedrick Golden is a junior student here at Rowan University originally from Pleasantville, NJ (Atlantic County). Sedrick is a Health and Science Communication major with a minor in Public Health and Wellness. Sedrick is breaking down barriers as a first-generation college student commuting to Rowan after transferring from Atlantic Cape Community College. On campus, he […]

How Lanasia Melvins is Making the Most of Her First Year as a Marketing Major

Lanasia stands outside the Rohrer College of Business building.

Meet Lanasia Melvins, a first-year student in the Marketing program within the Rohrer College of Business. Lanasia is an on-campus resident from Camden County, NJ.  Could you share a few on-campus activities, clubs, sports or events that you’ve attended so far? What was your favorite, and why? I’ve attended Meet the Greeks, Rohrer Fest, and […]

#PROFspective: Civil Engineering Student and Clubs Enthusiast Kayla King

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

What is civil engineering?

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

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

What made you choose engineering and more specifically civil engineering?

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

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

What goes into civil engineer diving? 

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

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

What made you choose Rowan initially?

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

Describe your experience here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Profile picture of Rowan University Civil engineering major Kayla.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are your goals for the future?

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

What impact do you wish to have on the world?

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

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

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

See our video with Kayla here:

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Story produced by:
Lucas Taylor, English Education graduate student

How Law and Justice Major Keshawn Porter Stepped out of His Comfort Zone

Rowan University Law and Justice major Keshawn Porter stands in front of the Rowan arch.

Today we feature Keshawn Porter, a Law and Justice major from Essex County, who shares how joining on-campus clubs and organizations changed his Rowan experience for the better. Could you tell us a few on-campus activities, clubs, sports or events that you’ve attended? What was your favorite, and why? I am part of the Black […]

#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, […]

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

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

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

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

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

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

All About Accounting with Senior Jacob Rodriguez

Jacob reads from a laptop, seated in Business Hall.

Today we feature Jacob Rodriguez, a senior Accounting major from Hammonton, NJ (Atlantic County). Jacob is a first-generation college student who transferred here from Rowan College of South Jersey in Gloucester County. We featured Jacob in a previous story as part of our Hispanic Heritage Month #PROFspective series, which you can read here. Could you […]

#PROFspective: Liberal Studies, Languages and Law with Junior Alexzia Lyons

Today we feature Alexzia Lyons, a junior Liberal Studies major. Alexzia is from Durham, North Carolina and previously went to North Carolina Central University, where she dual enrolled as a high school and college student. She discusses how she decided to come to Rowan, her experiences and involvement around campus, and advice to other students […]

Exploring the Community and Environmental Planning Major with Senior Jon Hansel

Jon smiles outside in on Glassboro Town Square.

Today we feature senior Jonathan Hansel (he/him) from Burlington County. Jon is majoring in Community and Environmental Planning and pursuing a master’s in Urban and Regional Planning through Rowan’s 4+1 program. Here, he discusses the importance of planning, his personal aspirations, and the opportunities he’s found in the program. Could you tell us a little […]

First Year Voices: Jeszenee Turner of Denver, Colorado on Finding Your People

Jeszenee Turner sits smiling in Discovery Hall.

Today we feature first-year student and Theatre Arts-Acting major Jeszenee Turner (she/her) from Denver, Colorado. Here she shares with us some advice for incoming first-year students as well as what inspired her to attend Rowan University. Could you share a few on-campus activities, clubs, sports or events that you’ve attended so far? What was your […]

Beyond the Classroom: Marketing Major Josh Echandia Talks Sales Internship with CobbleStone Software

Today we speak with Josh Echandia, a senior Marketing major from West Creek, NJ (Ocean County). Josh switched from an Education major to Marketing at the end of his sophomore year. Within the last semester, Josh worked as a Marketing Intern for CobbleStone Software, a contract management software company. He also works full-time as a sales representative for Best Buy. He discusses his decision to switch majors, his internship experience and how working in the field cultivated a love of marketing and sales. 

Why did you choose Rowan to study Marketing?  

I originally came to Rowan to be an Education major focusing on the Math Education route. That just ended up not working out for me because I did not really enjoy it. After about a year, I switched to Physical Education and then after another semester, I switched to Marketing. I had already been working at Best Buy for a couple years prior to going to Rowan, so I was already in the sales field a little bit; I thought marketing would be a good fit. I loved Rowan as a whole, so I didn’t really care what my major was. As long as I was still a student here, I knew I was going to be happy. 

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

After gaining some experience in the business field, I discovered that I really liked the sales aspect of things. Whether that is business-to-business or business-to-consumer sales, I would love to try at all. I’m really not set on one specific job title or position. 

Marketing is a big part of sales. Within the field, you must be able to advertise what you’re selling and target what market you’re striving for. That all plays a massive role in the sales world. I know that I want to incorporate what I’ve learned in marketing and couple it with sales.

Josh Echandia.
Josh Echandia

How did you seek out the internship opportunity for Cobblestone Software? 

I went to networking events at Rowan. They were so cool. I loved talking to all the different companies there and learning about the various opportunities you could have. The first internship that I actually applied for was CobbleStone Software. They stood out to me because they were in the technology field. So I decided to apply, and it worked out well.

What did you learn from interning at CobbleStone Software? Can you talk about the pros and cons for working hybrid?

I’ve been working full-time on top of being a student since I got into college, but going from regular retail work to an internship was a change of pace. Working for CobbleStone Software made me slow down and think about applying what I’ve learned in class to what I’m doing in a real-life professional setting.

Being in a hybrid setting helped because when I started the internship, I was in the office three days a week, and on two of those days, I had class right after work. So I felt like I was always running from work to class. Once I adjusted to the hybrid setting, it made my life much easier because I could work from home comfortably. I already had a desktop setup, so it just worked out perfectly.

After transitioning to a hybrid schedule, I was able to get to class on time, and I was able to eat in between. I was truly able to structure my day around my work and school obligations.

What was your role at this internship, and what did you do on a daily basis? 

As a sales and marketing intern, we were responsible for making pre-calls for our sales advisors. Essentially, we were calling to see if they were interested or open to the market for the software we provided, just contract management, sorting contracts and auto-billing contracts. We were trying to sell our service and our software to other companies.

It was very interesting. And there were a lot of companies that I never would’ve thought they were working with, like [a local grocery story chain], for example. So it was interesting to see how real-life applications work in these settings.

What were some of your biggest challenges that you faced as a Cobblestone Software?

CobbleStone Software was very helpful in the whole process of becoming an intern and going through my day-to-day. My biggest struggle was adjusting to an office setting rather than making in-person sales connections.

Because I’m very personable, I think one of my most significant assets includes communicating with people in person. So being over the phone was a little challenging to get used to. Beyond that, everything was easy to adapt to, and CobbleStone made it very easy to adjust. So I would say the biggest struggle for me was just the change of pace and change of setting.

What was your biggest takeaway from Cobblestone Software? What was the best thing you think you’ve learned that you will be able to utilize in your future endeavors?

This response is more general, but internships teach you what real-life business is about and whether you want to be in specific fields or not. Without being so broad, I realized that CobbleStone taught me about employee engagement and employee appreciation.

Our software is not an easy thing to learn. And it was tough for a lot of us when we first onboarded to pick it up. However, the leadership team and all the people above us made the transition much more manageable. And through that, they gave us a lot of employee appreciation and were extremely curious about taking feedback from us. They made it apparent that we were at the forefront of many of their decisions. It made me feel appreciated and heard.

Do you have any advice for sticking out during the application and interview process of applying for internships?

One thing that I never really paid attention to until I started my junior year was the resources that Rowan offers their students. Especially within the College of Business, there are so many resources for you to be successful, and the only way to get those resources to the full extent is to apply yourself to them. Make sure you attend networking events, even if it’s not a class requirement, because you may find your next potential boss. Networking is key.

You may find some of the best friends through these networking events, too. It is essential to take advantage of what the school is providing you. Not only is it making the most of your tuition cost, but it’s also making the most out of your experience. Being engaged with your professors and being involved with the clubs associated with your major are ways to make the most out of your college experience and prepare you for your future.

Josh smiles whiles walking down a stairwell inside Business Hall.

How has your experience working at Best Buy and being active at Rowan in various social and athletic clubs helped prepare you and develop your skills for your professional endeavors?

My experiences within Best Buy and the social and athletic clubs at Rowan all help me develop skills and qualities that will only benefit me in my professional life. For example, being the President of the Wrestling Club opened my eyes to being a leader in general. With Best Buy, I was in management; this gave me a little bit of retail management experience.

Being the president of a club kind of opens you up to many different things, like the structure of leadership, balancing tasks, and even time management. For example, I have to delegate to my e-board certain things that must be done within the club. Everything I have learned from my job at Best Buy and my experiences made available by Rowan can efficiently be utilized in my future.

Did you experience any unexpected parts associated with your major? 

So I started to piece together many connections between education and marketing. It was kind of weird because when I went into marketing, I went in with a sales-person mindset. And for me, education was just another form of selling; instead of selling products and services, it is like you are selling information.

I didn’t know how much depth and development there was in marketing — targeting different markets and being able to adapt to various market changes like that. So I never really thought about it. And that was not only interesting for me to see, it [showed] how I wanted to learn through marketing and what I could do with it afterward.

Josh sits holding two business textbooks and smiling inside Business Hall.

What was your favorite part of your major so far? 

Honestly, my favorite part was being able to learn and now utilize Canva. Canva is an application like an Instagram editor or a video editor, and it is pretty cool to make custom logos through. It’s pretty much a design portfolio that you can use online. And we were taught to use it for different projects and assignments and marketing principles, and it is a tool I have been using ever since I started learning about it. I utilize it for the Wrestling Club, my accounts and professionally. 

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Story by:
Natalie DePersia, senior public relations major

Photos by: 
Ashley Craven, junior radio/TV/film major

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

First Year Voices: Donovan Cruz Finds Rowan Classes Have “So Much to Offer”

Today, we feature Donovan Cruz, a first-year student from Galloway, NJ (Atlantic County), whose major is currently undecided. He looks forward to becoming more involved as he becomes more settled into this new chapter of life in Glassboro. When asked why he made the choice to change his major from Radio/Television/Film, Donovan explained he had […]

Rowan Alumnus and Band Director Mike Massaro on Music Education

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

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

Where did your passion for music stem from?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why did you choose Rowan for music?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mike is sitting in a tree playing the saxophone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A side profile picture of Mike sitting and talking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mike is smiling and holding his saxophone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mike is smiling while holding his saxophone

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

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

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

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

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

Mike is sitting and looking off right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch our video feature of Mike here:

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Story by:
Jada Johnson, political science major

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

Beyond the Classroom: Rowan Graduate Stephanie Ciecierski Pursues M.A. in Writing and Internship with The Rug Truck

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Stephanie Ciecierski (she/her) is a first-generation Rowan University 2016 graduate who majored in English and Subject-Matter Education. She was a transfer student from RCBC in 2013, and then commuted to Rowan from Medford, NJ (Burlington County). Now, after five years of being a high school special education teacher, Ciecierski is pursuing the second year of […]

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Hispanic Heritage Month #PROFspective: Public Relations Major Justin C. Sabio

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Esteban sits in front of Science Hall.

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Hispanic Heritage Month #PROFspective: Law & Justice Major Kathleen has “Dreamed Big”

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Today, as part of our Hispanic Heritage Month #PROFspective series, we feature senior Kathleen (she/her) from Perth Amboy, NJ (Middlesex County). Kathleen is majoring in Law & Justice Studies, having transferred to Rowan University from Rowan College of South Jersey. She discusses her experience at Rowan, professional aspirations, and gives advice to future students. What […]

Meet Transfer Profs: College of Education Student Emilie Pretto

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

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Meet Transfer Profs: Marleigh Davis from the School of Nursing and Health Professions

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Meet Transfer Profs: Featuring Students from the Edelman College of Communication and Creative Arts

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Bunce Hall on Rowan's Glassboro Campus behind some foliage.

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Meet Transfer Profs: 3 Marketing Majors from the Rohrer College of Business

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Community Garden: Fighting Food Insecurity From Home

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History, Anthropology Graduate Kathryn Seu Pursues M.A. in Holocaust and Genocide Education

Kathryn holds a textbook. in inside

Today we speak with Kathryn Seu, a recent Rowan University graduate with degrees in History and Anthropology. She will continue her studies by pursuing her master’s degree in Holocaust and Genocide Education, the first program of its kind, through Rowan Global. Kathryn is from West Berlin, NJ (Camden County) and is student association president of the Rowan Center for the Study of Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights (RCHGHR). In this article, she discusses her experience within her studies at Rowan, her goals and her responsibilities as within RCHGHR. 

Why did you choose to pursue a master’s?

For my career goals, it feels like the natural next steps. I would like to pursue [a degree] higher than a master’s eventually, so it seems like for what I want to do and with research, it helps to have more of an advanced degree — especially with a specialized field. It definitely helps more to have academic experience.

Kathryn reads from a text inside James Hall.

Why did you choose to study Holocaust and Genocide Education?

Rowan is the only university to offer Holocaust and Genocide Education. You can get degrees in Holocaust and Genocide Studies or Conflict Studies, but Rowan is the only one that has the education aspect. I think it’s really important, especially with so much negativity and hate speech that we see almost everywhere, that we encourage accessible education to these subjects.

Most states don’t require Holocaust education in public school curriculum, so some people don’t even get that education. I think it’s really important to emphasize that and make it accessible for as many people as possible.

Are there any notable differences between the undergraduate program versus the graduate program?

Mostly the course load is different. It’s also interesting because you have a different relationship with your professors. It’s more professional rather than superior and inferior. Rowan already has small class sizes and the master’s or higher education classes are much smaller, so you have more time to have more in depth conversations because you’re not in a classroom with 25 people, it’s more like 10 people. Pretty much everyone knows each other. It’s easier to have a tighter community. 

What are your career goals?

I would like to pursue an even higher education and apply for some Ph.D. programs this summer. I would like to go into some sort of research position or public advocacy. I think it’s really important and I love doing research. There’s just so much that we can learn and you can draw connections from the past to the present. I think it’s really important to spread that information to everyone.

What is Rowan Center for the Study of Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights (RCHGHR)?

This is a center on campus for interdisciplinary studies to help grow the next generation of educators. The center is run by the professors, but the student association focuses on student-led events on campus like International Holocaust Rememberance Day in January and student-led discussions.

Kathryn holds a candle at International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Kathryn at Rowan’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day event

Some of our more popular discussion events were “Antisemitic Tropes in Media” and “Rights on the Reservation,” which was about indigenous rights in America. The main goal is to get students and faculty alike more involved with talking about the Holocaust Genocide and human rights.   

What was your role or involvement with the RCHGHR?

For the student association, I am the president, and one of the big responsibilities was planning International Holocaust Remembrance Day. That was at the beginning of January, and I would only have a couple of weeks to work it out because we weren’t a charter, so we didn’t have our own budget. It was really nice to have other organizations coordinate to help bring food, candles and lighters.

We have meetings every other week, and I would work on a presentation or a discussion topic. For example, the one that we had before the end of the semester was about The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and why it’s not a good book. Meetings are around discussion topics like this to get more people involved.

Why did you choose to be involved with the RCHGHR?

I took a Historical Methods class with Professor Manning and at that time I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with history and anthropology. I thought I was going to be an Egyptologist for a while, but after I took that class I thought that this might be it. Professor Manning told me about the student association and recommended that I joined so I did. I did that for a semester and at that time the President was graduating and thought that I should take on that role after he left.

Are you currently involved in any other activities or clubs at Rowan?

For the past two semesters I was involved with the Mixed Martial Arts Club as a recreational activity. I was also involved with Phi Alpha Theta, which is the National History Honor Society and Lambda Alpha, which is the Anthropology Honor Society.

What is your most memorable experience at Rowan?

My situation was unique because I did my undergrad in three years and I started in Fall of 2019 and then we immediately went online next semester. I really only had three semesters in person, but even still, the whole experience was very memorable. Probably the most memorable experience was getting to speak at graduation, which was a pretty big deal to me.

Kathryn speaks at commencement.
Kathryn speaks at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences commencement ceremony.

What class during your studies in Holocaust and Genocide Education do you find most memorable? Why?

I just got back from a study abroad trip for the class, Nazi Germany & the Holocaust. It was 13 days and we were in Germany, Poland, Czechia and Austria. We got to see and do so much. We went to so many museums that I can’t even begin to list how many. It was really impactful because the furthest I had gone was Florida. This trip was the most memorable and the most enriching for my education because I had never been to a concentration camp before. I had never seen all these sights that we talked about.

It was really powerful to be there because we read about this all the time, but going to all these museums, talking to the locals, and seeing all these places and memorials in real life was really impactful.

Kathryn holds a textbook inside Campbell Library.

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

My education at Rowan has been incredibly interdisciplinary. I feel like I’ve gotten so much out of my two majors and undergraduate programs than what I’ll get in graduate school. With Holocaust and Genocide Education, the principles that you learn can be applied to other areas of history. You’ll sometimes hear it referred to as the “hard histories,” like the Holocaust and slavery. The same principles of education can be applied to different areas, and I think that has been the main thing that Rowan has been able to do for me, and I’m very grateful for it.

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

Photos by:
Tyler Allen-Williams, radio/TV/film major
Kathryn Seu
University Publications

A Champion and Voice for Graduate Students: Amit Dhundi, President of the Graduate Student Government Association

Amit Dhundi, a Rowan Global Ph.D. in Engineering student with a concentration in Chemical Engineering from Pitman, NJ (Gloucester County), shares his continuous work and contributions to Rowan as a graduate student and President of the Graduate Student Government Association.

Emerging from a family of academics, Amit is well-versed in the realm of scholastic success.

Amit came to Rowan as an international student from India in 2018, in which he graduated with a master’s in Chemical Engineering in 2020. Shortly thereafter, he joined Rowan’s Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Institute (AMMI) as a project manager before returning as a PhD student.

Amit posing for a portrait in engineering hall.

“That was a tough time to graduate because of the lockdown and companies were not hiring,” he explains. “I worked for a year as the project manager at [AMMI] and I later joined at the same lab as a Ph.D. student in the summer of 2021. So I became a student, an employee, and then went back as a student. Apart from that, I was also a student worker at the Chemical Engineering department when I was pursuing my master’s.”

As of now, Amit engages in research that is funded by the U.S. Army.

“My research involves the development of a new polymer formulation and fabricating 3D printed parts, which are really great properties for the Army. Specifically, my work involves synthesizing these different formulations in the lab, so this requires knowledge of chemistry.”

Aside from his ongoing investigations, Amit is also the President of the Graduate Student Government Association (GSGA). Ultimately, the mission of the organization is to serve as the official voice and representation for Rowan University Glassboro graduate students at a university level. The GSGA is also a tool for graduate students as they navigate their educational careers. 

“GSGA brings all of these graduate students from different colleges, institutions, and centers to a common place. It is a place for everything like graduate student concerns, needs, professional development, and also advocacy when it comes to some issues that they are facing,” Amit says. “Any graduate student from the Glassboro and South Jersey campuses are welcomed to be a part of this organization, regardless of their major.”

Amit on campus via his scooter.

As an advocate for community, the GSGA championed Amit’s vision of collective ambition. 

“I have been at Rowan for four years and I was always seeking a place for graduate students to gather and get to know each other — especially from different disciplines, backgrounds and colleges. I think it’s really great that we have so many different colleges. Rowan has such a vast campus where the students can come together and learn from each other through different experiences, backgrounds, mindsets and views on a situation. This was what I was seeking, which is what brought me to this organization.”

Due to the demanding schedules of graduate students, the GSGA holds virtual meetings every Monday at 4:30 p.m. to accommodate their members. 

“Each meeting lasts at most half an hour. This is the best way to ensure that most of the graduate students can come together. I am always open to changing it based on people’s needs,” Amit shares. “It starts with something as simple as greeting each other and getting to know any developments about the student life here or their experiences they have had as a student or in the college. Also, if there are any issues or anything that they would want to be a part of the graduate community at Rowan, we see how the GSGA could help them.”

Amit studies at a desk in an academic building on campus.

As President of the association, the catalyst that led to Amit’s role was roused through multiple agents. 

“I have been in both roles at Rowan as a graduate student and as an employee, so I feel as if I have seen both sides. It’s important to me that I use this experience in order to chart out a better path that works for both groups. I think it’s important to be proactive and understand the concerns of others in order to come up with a solution. That’s one thing that I thought I could impact on the graduate community across the university.”

Amit working in an lab on campus.

“Another thing is, I come from a family of academicians. My dad was a mechanical engineering professor in India and he was the Dean of the Federal Level Engineering Institute,” Amit shares. “My mom has a master’s degree in art and a degree in education. She was a teacher. I wanted to put to use the experiences that I had growing up and the experiences here for the betterment of the graduate student community.”

“This association is also relatively new, so while I’m here I will do my best. Also, I will be around for three years so I thought that I could give much more. I don’t have that deadline nearing me for graduation,” he says. 

Since the organization is relatively new, Amit’s responsibilities as President include raising awareness of the GSGA to the graduate student community. His other duties include communicating with the university and administration about any issues, concerns, or developments that the community might be facing or want to see. 

Amit’s commitment to the GSGA has yielded a multifaceted appreciation for the organization. Since graduate students spend more time collaborating with university staff because of the nature of their academic work, the GSGA aids in raising funds as well as increased recognition for the university. Additionally, the recent addition of the organization has incited a need for more involvement through a platform that allows for effective and professional communication. Amit views this demonstration for growth as the driving force for success. 

Amit posing on a spiral staircase in engineering hall.“I think being a part of this process and development is like being a catalyst. I’ve learned many things about myself and it’s a great opportunity to communicate with so many people across the administration hierarchy and the graduate community. This helps me and will help other graduate students in their professional lives. It gives me an opportunity to come out of the Rowan College of Engineering and get to know people.”

When asked about his goals and aspirations for the future of the GSGA, Amit responds: “One of my goals is having more events in order to see a part of a larger community. The second thing is for the graduate community to come out of the shell of their respective colleges and departments to present an academically diverse group which can work together for the benefit of graduate students. Once the GSGA is active across the university, I think that would be the right time to reach out to the university administration for funding because we don’t have as much funding right now. This funding would be used for social events in order to come together and raise awareness about the association. This would just be the beginning of a long journey.”

To spur recognition for the organization, Amit strives to increase acknowledgement of Rowan’s graduate programs in ranks such as the U.S. News. This platform is recognized as a leader in college and grad school rankings. 

  Amit standing in front of the College of Engineering banner.

“U.S. News is used by everyone who goes to university. For example, international students use this as a tool to see if a university is legitimate. Even students in the U.S. start the decision-making process about universities based on U.S. News,” Amit explains. “I know engineering graduate programs have been recognized, but as an association we would like all graduate degree programs at Rowan to be mentioned or listed in U.S. News. I believe this will not only help the incoming graduate students, but Rowan University will also benefit because its programs would get more recognition.” 

A development in the awareness of graduate programs such as the GSGA would also suggest graduate student admittance into campus events. Throughout the year, Rowan University holds signature events and traditions such as the Hollybash. Started in the spring of 2016, this event is a full afternoon outdoor festival that features rides, lawn games, performances, food trucks, novelties and more. Hollybash also sponsors a large concert, which has seen guests such as Andy Grammar (2018) and Mike Poser (2017). Customarily, undergraduate students are the predominant attendees of this event. 

Amit posing with his electric scooter.“What struck me earlier this year is there is this thing called a Hollybash that we have on the campus each year and there were some graduate students, including myself, who wanted to attend it, but we were told that it was only for undergrads,” Amit shares. “I understood because undergrads pay fees for these activities and the graduate students don’t pay that much towards such events. I think the undergrads get two tickets, but I wondered what if graduate students were made available to a facility where we could buy those tickets at a discounted price because it’s a university event.” 

Amit adds, “It would be so much fun for us to attend it as well and be a part of that university celebration. And then I realized that there may be other similar events. I think that if graduate students were expected to pay a certain amount to get in, I’m sure there are so many students who would want to be a part by buying these tickets in order to be active in the student life at Rowan University. Making this facility available is something I would like to bring up to the administration.”

In a dialogue about Rowan’s current focus, Amit advocates for an integration in which graduate programs are examined alongside the university’s undergraduate programs. 

“I somehow want to be involved in making that infusion in which graduate programs are also considered. This is important because the university higher administration has said that we have really good plans and ambitions as a university,” Amit shares. “We started as an R3 university, which is a category for primarily teaching. We have now come to the R2 category, which is impressive, and which means that we are doing research and teaching. We are actually aiming for the R1 category, which is majorly a research university with some teaching. When you talk about research, you of course need graduate students because they are an important part.”

Amit working on research in a lab.
Amit working on research in a mechanical engineering lab.

He adds, “I feel like it is high time for the university to make that infusion on its approach to communication. I think that graduate students make a big impact and we need to start making that change now.”

When asked what Amit would like others to take away from GSGA, he responds: “I would really like the graduate community to reach out. In the past the GSGA had one meet-up event, and I understand that it was a small event, but still it was a good occasion for graduate students from different disciplines to come together to get to know each other. We would like to have similar events in the future. I want to stress that we really value students from different disciplines and backgrounds. Especially because this is a new organization, we are looking for graduate students to join and come onboard with this association.”

If you are interested in joining the Graduate Student Government Association or would like more information, you can contact the organization at gsga@rowan.edu.

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Beyond the Classroom: Biomedical Engineering Major Ashleigh Jankowski Interns for Biotech Startup

Today we feature Ashleigh Jankowski, a senior Biomedical Engineering major and Chemistry minor and a Manufacturing Engineer Intern for the startup biotech company Vectech. Ashleigh serves as Service Chair for Society of Women Engineers and President of the Biomedical Engineering Society and is a member of the Food Insecurity Committee and Rowan Unified Sports. Since […]

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

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

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

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

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

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

What made you decide to transfer to Rowan? 

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

Annabella is leaning on the Business Hall sign and smiling.

What’s been your experience like at Rowan?

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

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

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

Annabella is turning her body towards the camera and smiling.

What drew you to finance? 

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

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

Why did you select your current internship? 

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

Can you describe in detail what your internship entails? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Annabella has her head down and studiously writing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Story by:
Lucas Taylor, graduate English education major 

Photography by:
Ashley Craven, sports communication and media major

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