Profiles and Spotlights

Profiles & Spotlights

Rutgers-Camden is a dynamic community, bringing together alumni, faculty, staff, and students, alongside the broader local community. In this diverse and inclusive environment, we foster a commitment to excellence, collaboration, and innovation. Our institution is more than just a campus; it’s a living, breathing community where learning and growth flourish, making Rutgers-Camden a truly unique place.

INTRODUCING YOU TO THE COMMUNITY

Spring 2024Fall 2023

Temi Akinode, Graduate, MS, Computational & Integrative Biology

Dr. Catherine Chatelain, Alumna, Computational & Integrative Biology

Aditya Gahlot, Graduate, Public Affairs, MS

Gina Torres, Graduate Student, MA History

Cleo Falvey, PhD Student, Computational & Integrative Biology

Catherine Heitz, PhD Student, Prevention Science

Shibin Yan, PhD Candidate, Public Affairs/Community Development

Juliet Gelfman-Randazzo, Alumna, Creative Writing, MFA

Nathaniel Augustin, Graduate Student, Criminal Justice MA/Public Administration, MA/MPA

Brian K. Everett, MPA Alumnus, PhD Student, Public Affairs/Community Development

Janene Ryan, PhD Student, Childhood Studies

Danielle Askew, Assistant Dean, Alumna, Public Administration, MPA

Harsh Gujarathi, Graduate Student, MS Data Science

Jason F. Cilento, Mayor of Dunellen, NJ, Alumnus, Public Administration, MPA

Athang Bhandarkar, Graduate Student, MS Data Science

Colleen Duran, EMPA Alumna and Coverdell Fellow

Morenike Alugo, PhD Student, Prevention Science

Caroline Gray, Alumna, Public Administration, MPA

Victoria Scannella, Graduate Student, MA History

Assemblyman Cody Miller, Alumnus, Public Administration, MPA

Dr. Claire Stricklin, Graduate Program Director, Emerging Media

Susan Muaddi Darraj, Alumna, MFA, Creative Writing

Dr. Sunil Shende, Graduate Director, Computer Science & Data Science Programs

Laura Collins, OSDFA Founding Director & Alumna, Psychological Sciences

Sebastian LaVergne, Graduate Student, MA History

Katrina DeWitt, Alumna, MS Biology Program

Chioma Uchendu, PhD Candidate, Computational and Integrative Biology

Heather Cooper, EMPA Alum, Councilwoman, Evesham, NJ

Dr. Michael Hayes, Graduate Director, MPA Program

Cristhian C. Altamirano, Alumnus, MS Psychological Sciences

Kayla Allende, Administrative Assistant, Graduate School

Mi Kyung Jasmine Je, EMPA Alum, President AWCA

New Students Share Their Reasons for Choosing Rutgers-Camden

Samuel Kankam, Alumnus, MS Mathematical Sciences

Joseph Abbas, PhD Student, Prevention Science

Karena Joy, Alumna, MS Biology

Geetanjali Kaza, Graduate Student, MS Data Science

Temi Akinode, Graduate, MS, Computational & Integrative Biology

Temitope Akinode, originally from Nigeria is a recent graduate of the Computational and Integrative Biology Program.  Working with Dr. Benedetto Piccoli, she researched the cost and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic with and without the lockdown from an epidemiological point. Her fondest memory of Rutgers University Camden is the sense of community, research exposure, and career improvement. This knowledge and experiences helped her get accepted to pursue a Doctoral degree in Chemistry at Syracuse University, New York.

Academic Journey

I obtained my bachelor’s degree in chemistry with a focus in organic synthesis at Covenant University, Nigeria. I decided to learn more about epidemiology in my master’s degree in computational biology by working in Dr. Piccoli’s lab, here at Rutgers Camden. I used mathematical modelling to study the dynamics of diseases and its economic cost. I just graduated this May and will be moving on to Syracuse University for my PhD in Chemistry.

Inspiration for Choosing Your Program

My undergraduate studies in chemistry provided me with a strong foundation in understanding how to use organic synthesis to combat diseases. Later in my career I found myself being drawn to the intersection of chemistry and biology; Understanding how these diseases can be transmitted and being able to use mathematical modelling to understand how well interventions can be implemented.

Significant Research at Rutgers-Camden

Over the years, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a significant change in the world. And there has been a need to quickly develop effective policies to protect the masses. Before the introduction of the first wave of vaccines in 2021, researchers have worked hard to develop various alternative to help manage the spread of the disease. Non-Pharmaceutical strategies have been employed in this course, they include social distancing, contact tracing, hygiene habits and isolation strategies e.g. lockdown and quarantine. With these strategies, there are questions about how the implementation of the lockdown strategy affects the nations considering the strategy. 

In this project we developed epidemiological models with the SEIR compartments; S – Susceptible, E- Exposed, I- Infected and R-Removed, using the differential equation system. We discussed the cost of the pandemic with and without the lockdown strategies. We tested three different scenarios to study the impact on the economy and the society in general which helped to suggest a more appropriate scenario for implementing the lockdown strategy. The models will help us have the answers to how sociodemographic variables are affected by the spread of the virus both socially and economically.

Most memorable experience at Rutgers-Camden

My experience at Rutgers-Camden is a must-have for anyone who loves community service, research exposure, and career improvement. Being a student at Rutgers–Camden made me understand what it means to be a well-rounded student. As the saying goes, you are what you surround yourself with. Rutgers-Camden allowed me to engage with a vibrant and diverse student community and work closely with dedicated professors eager to see me succeed and explore various research opportunities. I have grown personally and professionally through the supportive academic environment Rutgers University-Camden provides.

We have several resources to help students succeed, from library officials helping me with resources for my thesis to professors taking me in during office hours to explain whatever I missed in class, and, of course, the tutoring services made available to students anytime and anywhere. Lastly, what I appreciate most about Rutgers Camden is the helpful community; it takes a village, and you are never alone here.

Favorite Quote

Life is going to give you just what you put in it. Put your whole heart in everything you do, and pray, then you can wait.

Maya Angelou

Dr. Catherine Chatelain, Alumna, Computational & Integrative Biology

Catherine Chatelain is an alumna of the Computational & Integrative Biology (CCIB) doctoral program and serves as the Associate Director of Cell Therapy Analytical Science & Technology at Bristol Myers Squibb. In her industry role, she directly applies the advanced skills and knowledge she gained during her doctoral studies at Rutgers University-Camden. There, she expanded the molecular biology toolkit to study functional genomics using genome-scale reporter libraries as a member of Jongmin Nam’s lab.

Academic Journey

When I was 14, my older half-brother lost his battle with Melanoma. My brother’s battle with cancer made me aware that the medical field was far more dynamic and investigatory than I had previously appreciated as a child. Subsequently, when I was first introduced to Molecular Biology and Biochemistry concepts in my high school AP Biology Class, I developed a deep interest in gene expression and function. After receiving my BS in Biochemistry from Messiah College in 2002, I started my career in the not-for-profit research sector at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia where I worked as a scientific wet lab research technician and contributed to the basic science understanding of mechanisms of heart development and subsequently DNA break repair mechanisms. After stepping away from the laboratory bench in 2008 to focus on my family, 

I slowly began to return to the workforce through a Part Time Lecturer role in the Chemistry department at Rutgers-Camden. My time away from scientific thinking and the scientific process made me realize how much I had missed the satisfaction of problem solving and answering basic scientific questions for which no answer currently exists. By 2013, I had developed a strong desire to advance my degree. I knew from my time in the not-for-profit sector that small stepwise scientific advances can take years or even decades to have an impact. I knew that ultimately, I wanted to pursue a career in the pharmaceutical industry and contribute to bringing life-changing or even curative treatments to patients. Though pursuing a role in industry is frequently looked down upon in academic communities as “selling out,” that goal was 100% aligned with my original motivation for pursuing a scientific career: to alleviate the burden of cancer and bring life changing medications to patients. I recognized that obtaining my PhD in CCIB would give me the skills and ways of thinking that could enhance my marketability to the pharmaceutical industry.

Inspiration for Choosing Your Program

One take away from my time at Fox Chase was an appreciation for the collaborative and cross-disciplinary interactions between researchers. During my time as a Part Time Lecturer at Rutgers, I became aware of the then relatively new PhD program in CCIB at Rutgers-Camden. After talking with Dr. Martin about the intent and structure of CCIB, I recognized that the CCIB graduate program facilitated the kind of cross-disciplinary interactions and collaborations that are imperative to advance scientific understanding. I appreciated that CCIB was structured in a way that encouraged problem solving using a cross-disciplinary, multi-faceted approach.

Significant Research at Rutgers-Camden

As a grad student in CCIB, my entire focus was one big research project developing a tool to enhance the study of functional genomics, with demonstration of the tools’ applicability to enrich our understanding of gene regulatory networks both in development and in disease.

Impact of Rutgers-Camden on your Career

My time working on my PhD at Rutgers-Camden taught me patience, perseverance, and effective interdisciplinary communication. Through my countless hours refining presentations through discussions with Jongmin, I learned how to succinctly communicate complex scientific ideas to a broad audience, a skill set that I use every day in my current role as Associate Director of Cell Therapy Analytical Science & Technology at Bristol Myers Squibb. The program also taught me how to be strategic and forward thinking, and it enabled me to develop a data driven, agile mindset.

Favorite Quote

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Aditya Gahlot, Graduate, Public Affairs, MS

Aditya Gahlot, a fixture at the Graduate School House for the past two years, is a recent graduate of the Public Affairs Master of Science Program and has been admitted to the doctoral program. While working as an urban landscape designer in India, his desire to understand how policy influences urban development and the application of research to enhance living spaces propelled him to pursue a master’s degree. He credits the program’s focus on research and the institution’s professional development resources with significantly advancing his career in urban development.

Academic Journey

My academic and professional path started at an architecture school back in India, which imbued in me a strong visual sense and an understanding of how spaces can shape human experience. Following graduation, I had the opportunity to work on prominent landscape design projects across India. This practical experience not only solidified my passion for creating functional and aesthetically pleasing environments but also exposed me to the complexities of urban development. It was during this time that I participated in a sustainable urban development research internship. This experience proved to be a turning point. Eager to explore this field more, I decided to pursue a Master of Public Affairs at Rutgers-Camden. 

The last two years have helped me improve my research and writing skills. And, this intersection of research and design has helped me present my work at conferences around the country, gaining valuable feedback and fostering connections within the community.

Inspiration for Choosing Your Program

I loved designing buildings and landscapes in India, but I felt something missing. I wanted to dig deeper into the “why” behind urban development – what makes a city truly tick and how policies can shape it. That’s why I chose Rutgers-Camden’s Public Affairs program – a program focused on building research skills, and it seemed like the perfect fit to combine my design background with this new research passion. My interest in learning how to use research to create even better places for people to live, and this program’s affiliation with the same is what truly brought me here.

Significant Research at Rutgers-Camden

The research I’ve been working on is upending traditional urban vitality assessments in Philadelphia. Instead of relying on one-size-fits-all metrics, I’m diving deep into a specific neighborhood to understand what makes it tick for the residents themselves. This isn’t just about cafes and parks; it’s about pinpointing the factors that truly matter to the people who live there. By analyzing this data with techniques like Explanatory Factor Analysis and Multi-Criteria Decision Making, I want to go beyond simple surveys and come up with a bottom-up approach to urban vitality. This resident-focused mixed-methods approach that I’m working on aims to identify the cornerstones of a vibrant community, not just a superficially lively urban space. The ultimate goal for my research would be shaping policies that directly address the needs of the people who call this neighborhood home, fostering a genuine sense of community and ensuring everyone benefits from its vitality.

Most Memorable Experience at Rutgers-Camden

Honestly, my most memorable experiences at Rutgers-Camden haven’t been in the classroom (although those have been great too!). It’s been more about the confidence I’ve gained by presenting my research at conferences around the country. Rutgers-Camden’s focus on research, especially with all the professional development resources they offer, totally helped me get there.  This program gave me the skills I need to take my design background and research passion to the next level in the field of urban development.  I can’t wait to use what I’ve learned to create even better places for people to live!

Favorite Quote

The experience that we have of our lives from within, the story we tell ourselves about ourselves in order to account for what we are doing, is fundamentally a lie – the truth lies outside, in what we do.

Slavoj Žižek

Gina Torres, Graduate Student, MA History

Gina Torres is a second-year student in the History (MA) program. Her combined passion for history, education, and working with the public was instrumental in her collaboration with other history students on the project “One House, Many Homes,” supervised by Dr. Charlene Mires, where they researched and chronicled the story of the Graduate School House. With a long-term goal of working with the National Park Service, she is presently committed to researching and interpreting Johnson Park through podcasting, public programming, and creating other forms of media.

Academic Journey

I started my college career by earning an Associate’s degree in History at Rowan College South Jersey before attending Rowan University to earn my Bachelor’s in History in 2021. Originally, I was a double major in History and Education while in undergrad, but decided a traditional classroom was not really right for me. Instead, I discovered the Public History certificate program, where I could combine my passion for History with my love for education and, well, working with the public. When I realized there was so much more to be learned to be successful in the field, I started looking into more advanced degrees that would enhance my knowledge and improve my craft.

Inspiration for Choosing Your Program

Rutgers Camden was one of the few schools on my list due to its proximity to both me and a major city, Philadelphia. Ultimately, it was the campus’ location within the historic Cooper Street district that cemented my attendance. At Rowan, most of the buildings are fairly new, which is great for comfort, but for a history major the campus lacked character. Here, at Rutgers, the campus is a mixture of old and new buildings despite being a smaller campus. Learning about and embracing the history here is truly one of the best parts of the campus.

Ongoing Research at Rutgers-Camden

I would love to work with the National Park Service. They were the original frontrunners in the field of historic preservation and still have a lot of influence over policy today. Out of graduate school though, I would like to work in a smaller historical society or an archive. There is a lot of work to be done on the ground in history and so many passionate people who want to reach a wider audience. I learned a lot in graduate school that I will be taking with me into the professional world. The project One House, Many Homes taught me what it truly meant to be a Public Historian, not just someone who does research, but someone who collaborates across multiple fields, discusses interpretation, collaborates with communities, and defends the stories of the past by connecting them to the present through the power of place. This semester, my classmates and I are continuing this trajectory by researching and interpreting Johnson Park, through podcasting, public programming, and creating other forms of media. The Public History program, and specifically Dr. Charlene Mires, continues to inform and encourage me, both personally and professionally, to succeed now and in the future. 

Most Memorable Experience at Rutgers-Camden

Aside from the One House, Many Homes project and the Johnson Park project, I interned at Camden County Historical Society in the summer of 2023. I learned so much from this hands-on experience, from creating finding aids to using archival systems, to even working on preservation and restoration projects. Working as a collections manager is a rewarding, but certainly exhausting, job. My supervisor Joshua Lisowski was constantly multitasking to ensure the success of the society as well as engagement with the public while still making time to be an exemplary supervisor and mentor. Without his guidance I would surely not be anywhere near where I am today. I have also been working with the Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia as an editorial assistant since December 2022 under Dr. Charlene Mires. Again, I am incredibly thankful to be able to look to her as a mentor as she truly took a chance on a young student with no previous experience, taught me many valuable skills, opened networks, and encouraged me every step of the way. This experience has improved my communication and organization skills, enhanced my knowledge within the field of history, and taught me much about publishing. For this experience I will always be eternally grateful.

Favorite Quote

We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today… This is a time for vigorous and positive action.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Cleo Falvey, PhD Candidate, Computational & Integrative Biology

Cleo Falvey is a Ph.D. candidate in the Computational and Integrative Biology Program, hailing from Boston, Massachusetts. Her research work focuses on assembling high-quality reference genomes for various anole (lizard) species. Inspired by Dr. Anthony Geneva’s evolutionary research at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, she joined his lab in 2021. Cleo enjoys the interdisciplinary nature of the program, which fosters stimulating collaborations across different fields of research.

Academic Journey

I have always loved animals and growing up, my family always were “pet people.” I loved learning about animals and the different environments they lived in. When I got to high school, I became a teen volunteer at the New England Aquarium, sharing fun facts about fish and helping manage touch tanks on busy Saturdays. I also worked at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, helping preserve scientific specimens and update information about the specimen in their database. When it came time to apply to college, I chose a Biology major and joined Dr. Liam Revell’s laboratory at University of Massachusetts Boston.

In Dr. Revell’s lab, I got the opportunity to go on my first scientific field trip to Puerto Rico, measuring the morphology (body shape) of urban lizards contrasted with forest lizards to see if changes in body shape could help animals adapt to the different environment of urbanization. My undergraduate thesis was published in the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, which was really cool since some of the earliest evolutionary biologists, like Darwin and Wallace, published in that journal! After graduating, I was looking around the anole family tree for mentors to apply to, and was lucky to land a position with Dr. Geneva in the Center for Computational Biology. I have been here since Fall 2021!

Inspiration for Choosing Your Program

I was inspired to come to Rutgers-Camden to work with my advisor, Dr. Anthony Geneva. In 2015, when I was a sophomore in high school, I was working in the Herpetology Department at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, which is a museum collection totaling over 350,000 reptile and amphibian specimens used for scientific research. Dr. Geneva was at that time a postdoctoral research associate there, using a captive lizard colony as a breeding experiment to study the process of how species evolve.

When it came time for me to apply to graduate schools six years later, I reached out and we wrote a grant together (NSF-GRFP) which was fortunately accepted and funded by the NSF, which made my decision very easy!

Ongoing Research at Rutgers-Camden

Dr. Geneva’s laboratory is one of the best labs to work in for evolutionary genomics. Specifically, we work on assembling reference genomes, which can be used as a tool for the wider community. Researchers in my group have published some of the most continuous, high-quality genome assemblies to date. As such, my current research projects largely center around assembling these reference genomes for different species of anoles.

Most Memorable Experience at Rutgers-Camden

I have really enjoyed my experience in graduate school so far and I am very grateful for the amazing things I have gotten to do as part of my research! Having a PhD. in Computational Biology is a very flexible degree that can probably open a lot of doors in the future. In addition, the program is extremely interdisciplinary, so I love that I get to work with researchers from many different fields. It makes scientific discussions and collaborations way more interesting.

Favorite Quote

Remember kids, the only difference between screwing around and science is writing it down.

Adam Savage, Mythbusters

Catherine Heitz, PhD Student, Prevention Science

Catherine Heitz is a PhD student in the Prevention Science program. Originally from Queens, New York, her passion for passion for mental health and criminal justice led to a shift in her career goal from clinical psychology to research. Her research is on evaluating community violence and attitudes toward firearms in a rural county and looking at the efficacy of trauma-informed policies in local and city police on violence rates in Philadelphia.  

Academic Journey

My education journey began with a bachelor’s degree in forensic psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice where I graduated cum laude with two minors, interdisciplinary studies and art. While abroad on a clinical psychology study trip to the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, my career goal of clinician shifted to researcher. It inspired me to pursue a master’s program in behavioral neuroscience at Queens College to study the biological basis of psychology and behavior, particularly the epigenetics of fear and traumatic stress. This research allowed me to publish in prenatal stress and child neuropsychology.

Here, I learned about and conducted longitudinal research responsibilities, including participant outreach, surveying, neurocognitive interviewing, such as the mini-international neuropsychiatric interview, and physiological measures, such as heart rate and MRIs. I also participated in a study evaluating the use of daily intervention software (games) on depressive and anxiety symptoms in college-aged adults.

Inspiration for Choosing Your Program

These blended experiences encouraged me to find a program that will allow me to keep my interests and incorporate them all into my research moving forward. The prevention science program emphasizes active research, where we aim to identify, propose, and evaluate catalysts for change in our society. I am honing my research skills using large, open-access data and combining it with local data collection to study the effects of policy implementation. The amazing support of the prevention science graduate committee and affiliated faculty makes this possible!

I am a natural collaborator, so I wanted an interdisciplinary program that could be shaped by my passions: mental health and criminal justice. Specifically, I am interested in the psychiatric epidemiology of community violence and trauma. 

Ongoing Research at Rutgers-Camden

Currently, I am working on evaluating community violence and attitudes toward firearms in a rural county with Dr. Richard Stansfield. I am also looking at the efficacy of trauma-informed policies in local and city police on violence rates in Philadelphia. In the future, I hope to merge my background in psychology and neuroscience with the experience of trauma in chronically affected areas to implement policies and interventions to help individuals and their communities.

Favorite Quote

It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.

Vincent van Gogh

Shibin Yan, PhD Candidate, Public Affairs/Community Development

Shibin Yan originally from Yangjiang, China is a current Ph.D. candidate in the Public Affairs program.  His research involves understanding the impact of public policy on the aging population to provide quality health care for them. His academic and professional development has been positively impacted by leveraging resources like cohort study groups and conference financial support.  

Academic Journey

My academic journey has been characterized by a relentless pursuit of knowledge and personal growth. Growing up in a mid-sized city in southern China, I harbored a dream of exploring the world and understanding the diverse cultures and lifestyles of different regions. Upon completing high school, I ventured to a metropolitan city for my undergraduate studies, which broadened my horizons and allowed me to forge connections with people from diverse backgrounds across China.

After obtaining my master’s degree in Public Administration, I embarked on a rewarding journey as a graduate assistant at a reputable local think tank. Immersed in policy evaluation work, I developed a deep passion for addressing local policy challenges. However, I soon realized the need to further enhance my skills and knowledge to make a more significant impact in the field. This realization fueled my decision to pursue a Ph.D. abroad, guided by the encouragement of my mentor.

Inspired by the foundational theories originating from the United States, I started my Ph.D. journey at Rutgers Camden. I embraced the opportunity to delve deeper into my research interests, particularly in elder care. Rutgers became my first home in the U.S., providing me with the support and resources to thrive as an international student. Over the past seven years, Rutgers has instilled in me the confidence to pursue my academic aspirations and become a scholar in my field.

Inspiration for Choosing Your Program

My passion for public policy and administration has been a driving force in my academic journey. Having completed both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in public administration in China, I’ve long been fascinated by the profound impact of public policy on people’s lives. My desire to contribute to addressing social challenges, such as population aging, led me to delve deeper into understanding how to provide quality care and dignity to older adults. This motivation inspired my pursuit of a Ph.D. in Rutgers to expand my knowledge and expertise in this field.

Ongoing Research at Rutgers-Camden

Having dedicated years to the field of gerontology, my current dissertation research focuses on China’s community care services and their impact on the health and subjective well-being of older adults. This research endeavor represents the culmination of my passion for improving the lives of older adults through evidence-based interventions and policy recommendations.

Most memorable experience at Rutgers-Camden

The first ‘A’ I earned on a course assignment during my initial year in the program stands out memorably. Early on, I faced challenges in grasping the course content, compounded by cultural shock, leading to subpar performance in my initial assignments. However, the support of an exceptional cohort and dedicated professors was instrumental. We established a small study group, and I fondly recall the half-hour journeys to a colleague’s house for collaborative learning and material review, which significantly enhanced my comprehension and performance in subsequent assignments. That initial “A” in the quantitative research class was pivotal, serving as a cornerstone for my growing confidence.

The Graduate school at Rutgers-Camden has been instrumental in facilitating my professional development by providing invaluable resources and opportunities. For instance, their support enabled me to attend a renowned conference in Tokyo, Japan, where I had the opportunity to network with peers and scholars in my field. Such experiences have indeed enriched my academic journey and propelled me closer to achieving my career aspirations.

Favorite Quote

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.

Arthur Ashe

Juliet Gelfman-Randazzo, Alumna, Creative Writing, MFA

Juliet Gelfman-Randazzo, an alumna of Rutgers University-Camden’s MFA in Creative Writing program, embodies the spirit of creativity and intellectual curiosity that the program fosters. She is the author of the chapbook ‘DUH,’ which critic Sophie Anderson praises for its intimacy and poignancy: ‘Gelfman-Randazzo reads in the way every poet probably thinks they read: making everyone feel as if they’re the only one in the room. It’s a balancing act in pause: long enough between each line break to feel intimate, but not long enough to feel awkward.’

Accolades and Artistic Residencies

Juliet’s literary talents have been recognized widely. She was a finalist in the Nine Syllables Press Chapbook Contest, AWP’s 2022 Kurt Brown Prize in Creative Nonfiction, and the International Literary Seminar’s Fiction Contests in both 2022 and 2023. She also reached the semi-finals for the 2022 Red Wheelbarrow Poetry Prize and Tilted House’s inaugural Chapbook Prize. Juliet has participated in several residencies, including annual stays at Art Farm and a residency at Soaring Gardens.

A Rich and Varied Literary Portfolio

Juliet’s body of work spans various genres, showcasing her versatility as a writer. She is scheduled to publish new works in Joyland and The Cleveland Review of Books, with previous works featured in The Offing and Barrelhouse Magazine. Her poetry, particularly in pieces like “the prophet” and “i’m bicoastal,” demonstrates a dynamic range and emotional depth that resonates with readers.

Ongoing Literary Contributions

Currently, Juliet is engaged in Philadelphia’s literary community, where she produces Spit Poetry, an open mic series she helped establish. She also applies her editorial skills at Barrelhouse Magazine. Looking ahead, Juliet is set to enhance her craft as a Creative Nonfiction scholar at the Tin House Summer Workshop in July 2024.

Nathaniel Augustin, Criminal Justice MA/Public Administration, MA/MPA

Nathaniel Augustin, a first-generation graduate student from New York, is currently pursuing a dual degree in Criminal Justice and Public Administration (MPA) while working for AmeriCorps and the Office of Scholar Development and Fellowship Advising. He is an alum of the Honors College, having earned his undergraduate degree at Rutgers-Camden. His academic interests include exploring the sentencing disparities between drug-related crimes and offenses against children.

Academic Journey

My academic journey started at the Community College of Philadelphia after earning my high school diploma. As a first-generation student, I chose to start from there because I could not pay for school while avoiding taking out any loans. Thanks to the two years of studying here, I got the chance to be connected to programs and offices that helped me understand different ways of thinking about professional education and how to ease into this new way of learning. The dual admissions program offered by the school allowed me to transfer to a 4-year school and obtain my bachelor’s degree. It’s this program that taught me about Rutgers University and the aid that is offered to out-of-state students.

For my work background, I have worked full-time jobs throughout these past five years between different restaurants across Pennsylvania and New Jersey to ensure that I maintain financial stability to pay for any books or technology to help me learn. Rutgers Career Center, career fair, and academic advisors helped me in the past three years understand the different careers that my education can lead me to after graduation and even gave me contact information to correspond and learn further about what paths to follow.

Inspiration for Choosing Your Program

While the motivations for my decision to pursue each degree vary from one another, they all work together to assist me in my goal of working in the public sector. For criminal justice, I am inspired by my desire to understand the criminal justice system and its history that leads up to its current state today. For me, the biggest takeaway would have to be how much politicians are involved with shaping how citizens view the concept of Crime and how we should punish people who commit it. Over the past fifty years, we have seen our government, each presidential administration, explain to the public what is defined as a criminal and influence what offenses deserve to have harsh sentences and what should be considered as need to be reformed. From public administration, it would have to understand what creates the policies people must follow. Learning about the steps and processes our government uses to advocate and ratify our laws for people to follow is essential to understanding the problem in specific rules that can be considered problematic.

Accounting requires understanding literacy in financial statements and transactions. Accounting allows people to understand the “footprints” of what makes administrations assemble a budget for each year and choose how to determine what gets cut, remains the same, or gains more resources.   Altogether, I decided to study each of these programs precisely because of my desire to be versatile in my research and capable of adapting to sudden changes in any job I choose to follow.

Ongoing Research at Rutgers-Camden

I am in the planning stages of writing my master’s thesis, but I know what I want to look at. I’m planning to examine the question of why drug-related Crime gives harsh sentences when compared to crimes against children. The reason for such a direction has to do with wanting to look at the mass incarceration issue from a different lens. It has been understood that administrations in the past few decades have pushed policies that focused on drug crimes with the creation of mandatory minimum sentences and the three-strike laws.

It was policies like these that pushed thousands of people to receive criminal records, affected their opportunity to find employment, and contributed to mass incarceration. However, when viewing crimes against children such as statutory rape, child exploitation, or even at-work abuse against children, while we have seen a number of people get significant sentences for their offenses, there are many people who received less time as a juxtaposition to a drug offense or even probation when viewing upper class or celebrities with these crimes. I plan to use all three of the programs to discuss their effect on the criminal justice system, the perspective of effectiveness made through such policies, and the financial cost that resources for enforcing such sentences cost the country as a whole.

Most Memorable Moments at Rutgers-Camden

I have had two memorable experiences at Rutgers-Camden. The first one was the countless times I had professors who engaged with us students by making jokes or making the class understandable using context from the modern day. It helped me get a much better understanding of the lessons being taught and made me feel much more engaged. The second memory would have to be the strike in April of 2023 and having the chance to see faculty come together in protest for renewing their contracts and the lack of compliance being made by the upper echelon of our school.

While I was not able to attend many of the programs since I did have to prepare for finals, it was interesting to arrive on campus and watch everyone chant slogans. The graduate school contributes to my future goals through relevant lessons and explanations about how these classes will help me with my future career prospects.

Impact of Rutgers-Camden

As a person who desires to work as a criminal investigator for the federal government, the career center has notified me about events and meets/greets from different agents in the US government and even given me emails so I can keep in touch and learn the right ways to apply. What’s more, the honors college deans have helped me navigate to the correct people I should talk to when a new problem arises in my direction to graduate.

Favorite Quote

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.

Arthur Ashe

Brian K. Everett, MPA Alumnus, PhD Student, Public Affairs/Comm. Development

Brian K. Everett, an alum of the Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) program, is currently a PhD student in the Public Affairs/Community Development Program. His recent publication, co-authored with Dr. Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn and Ebshoy Mchaeil, is titled “Happiness Is In The Air If It Grows – Growing Places are Happier than Shrinking Ones” and appears in the Sage Journals. In addition to his academic pursuits, Brian serves as the Assistant Dean for the Rutgers University-Camden Honors College, where he plays a pivotal role in shaping the academic and professional futures of Rutgers-Camden’s honors students.

Academic Journey

I am currently in my 4th year of the PhD Program, and I’m finalizing my dissertation proposal. Given the ongoing news related to Andy Kim’s Federal lawsuit regarding New Jersey’s unique ballot design for primary elections, I’m excited to have a tentative title for my dissertation: The Effects of New Jersey’s County Line Ballot Design on Rates of Development – A Steady Erosion of Democracy in the Garden State.

Inspiration for Choosing Your Program

Since I have earned both bachelors and Masters degrees from Rutgers-Camden, I’ve taken classes with many of the PhD program’s faculty before applying. Knowing I’d be able to continue studying with these outstanding scholars and caring people, I was eager to begin this journey.

Significant Research at Rutgers-Camden

Earlier this year, I was a co-author with Dr. Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn and Ebshoy Mchaeil in an article titled Happiness Is In The Air If It Grows – Growing Places are Happier than Shrinking ones. We published that article in the Urban Affairs Review. Given that I’ve finished my dissertation proposal, I’m eager to begin working on finishing my dissertation especially since the New Jersey’s Attorney General and a Federal Judge have ruled the state’s unique ballot design is unconstitutional. It’s important for our State to further study the implications of this design since it had been in place for many years. Although I’m sure scholars who are experts in many areas will begin to follow the lead of Dr. Julia Sass Rubin from Rutgers – New Brunswick and produce their own studies on the County Line, I’m excited to try and contribute to this growing body of literature. Even though it may seem like our state’s ballot design is relevant only to New Jersey in this case, this topic actually has wide-ranging social, political, and legal implications for the entire country.

Most Memorable Moments at Rutgers-Camden

My most memorable experience so far has been the Data Management course I took with Dr. Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn. I learned how to code in Python – something which never crossed my mind given my prior academic experiences. But here I am, someone with a Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish and Urban Studies, and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration, doing some computer programming for my quantitative analysis.

Favorite Quote

Everything stems from the seeds of determination

A Fortune Cookie, 2020

Janene Ryan, PhD Student, Childhood Studies

Janene Ryan is a PhD student of the Childhood Studies program who holds a B.A. from Rutgers-Camden in English with a focus on Creative Writing and Pre-Modern-Day Era Literature. Born and raised in Camden, she has been driven by research interests including Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) in urban communities related to homicide and terminal illness of a parents.

Academic Journey

I was a teenage mother with a high school diploma, but little else. I decided I wanted to register for college classes once my daughter turned 5-years old. Working nights, I went to school during the day. After completing my Bachelors in English with a focus on Creative Writing and Pre-Modern-Day Era Literature at Rutgers Camden, I went on to obtain an M.S. from Cairn University in Christian Counseling with a concentration in trauma therapy. Once my daughter was in her second year of college, I decided to pursue a PhD in Childhood Studies. 6-years later, here I am at the threshold of conferment.

Inspiration for Choosing Your Program

Working with children for over 20 years I’ve seen how they have been silenced for trying to participate in their own lives. I wanted to do research that gave them a voice and I believed Childhood Studies would allow me to do that.

Significant Research at Rutgers-Camden

My research has included examining Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) in urban communities related to homicide and terminal illness of a parent, childhood trauma related to systematic and racialized conditioning surrounding racist vigilantism and police brutality, and discourses within child welfare and foster care structures. My dissertation, “Preparing for Assault: Framing the Psychological Impact of The Talk Within Black Childhood”, examines what, if any, emotional and cognitive conditioning Black children experience when having communicative exchanges with their caregivers and how that discourse can dictate encounters with law enforcement and/or racists vigilantes.

Most Memorable Moments at Rutgers-Camden

Being an alumnus of Rutgers-Camden I’ve had so many great experiences. But my favorite was being the Chair for the Youth Spotlight at the ACYIG Conference. Being able to interview youth from Camden who were determined to do and be the best version of themselves while honoring themselves and their community. I was humbled when I told many of the youth how proud I was at what they were doing and how they were representing Camden, and several said the same to me. My department has encouraged me to continue using my work to positively transform the lives of all children.

Favorite Quote

Everyone has a story, and some have many.

Janene Ryan

Danielle Askew, Assistant Dean, Alumna, Public Administration, MPA

Danielle Askew, an Assistant Dean at Rutgers University-Camden, is both an alumna and an advocate for equity within her academic and administrative roles. She oversees teaching staff, graduate assistants, fellows, and scholarship distributions. A first-generation college graduate, she earned degrees in Psychology and Public Administration with a focus on Public and Non-Profit Management. Most recently she has been recognized by the “24 in 2024: Celebrating Women of Black Excellence at Rutgers–Camden” initiative for her outstanding service and commitment, she is celebrated for her contributions to the “Beloved Camden Community” initiative. 

Academic Journey

I am a first-generation student, the first in my immediate family to have both an undergraduate and graduate degree. I started college as a non-traditional adult student, working full-time and attending school part-time. It took 12 years to complete both degrees via part-time attendance. I had a family, small kids, and there were times I felt very overwhelmed, but I kept going because I knew the reward would outweigh the challenges. Even with these challenges and the inherent difficulties of being first-gen, I graduated Magna Cum Laude and joined the Honor Society.

Significant Research while at Rutgers-Camden

My capstone in my MPA program studied the link between federal financial aid funding and the graduation rate of African American and Hispanic students. Working so closely with those populations, I get to see my research project come to life.

There are so many research projects and courses of significance besides my big capstone project titled “Federal Financial Funding and its Impact on African American and Hispanic Students’ Degree Attainment”. Some of the classes I most enjoyed were Housing Policy and Immigration Community Development. In Housing Policy, I spent time performing research and interviewing residents at Joseph’s House, which is a non-profit housing shelter in Camden. I had the opportunity to dispel myths that even I myself had about the economics and policies that may contribute to the population of those who are unhoused in New Jersey.

Role as a Graduate School Administrator

As one of the Assistant Deans of the Graduate School – besides overall academic administration of the school, I manage the teaching, graduate assistant, and fellowship appointments and onboarding processes. We support over 100 TAs, GAs, and Fellows throughout all our graduate programs. I also govern the awarding of scholarships and other budgetary matters. I am a liaison to many of the campus student support offices, including Student Accounting, Financial Aid, Dean of Students, and others.

Favorite Quote

They tried to bury us; they did not know we were seeds.

Dinos Christianopoulos

Harsh Gujarathi, Graduate Student, MS Data Science

Harsh Gujarathi, originally from Pune, India, is pursuing a Master’s in Data Science at Rutgers-Camden. He has actively engaged in campus life, creating new friendships and participating in events like Dodgeball and Masala Madness. Harsh values the university’s extensive resources and support services, such as academic advising, career counseling, and research project assistance, provided by the Graduate School. This supportive environment has been key in helping him navigate challenges and achieve his academic and career aspirations.

Inspiration for choosing my Program

My inspiration for choosing the Data Science program stemmed from a blend of curiosity about data’s transformative potential, awareness of its growing demand in the job market, and appreciation for its interdisciplinary nature. I’m driven by a desire to understand and utilize data to tackle real-world problems and contribute to innovation across various industries.

Academic Journey

My academic and professional journey has been quite dynamic. I completed my undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2021, where I gained a strong foundation in engineering principles and problem-solving techniques. During my time at university, I had the opportunity to work on a student project group called RUGVED, where I was exposed to the fascinating realms of Artificial Intelligence and data analysis. This experience piqued my interest and opened my eyes to the immense potential of these fields.

Following graduation, I transitioned into the professional world and worked for two years in a role related to data engineering. In this position, I had the opportunity to apply my engineering skills to work with data, focusing on tasks such as data acquisition, storage, and processing. Through hands-on experience, I gained valuable insights into data management techniques, database systems, and data infrastructure.

While working as a data engineer, I became increasingly drawn to the broader aspects of data science and the potential it holds for leveraging data to derive meaningful insights and drive decision-making. This realization prompted me to consider shifting my career focus toward the field of computer science, with a specific emphasis on data science and artificial intelligence.

Ongoing Research

During my undergraduate studies, I had the opportunity to work on a research project focusing on the hemodynamics of the carotid artery. In this project, I was involved in calculating the fluid properties of the arteries through data collection and analysis. Using Python programming, I performed various analyses to gain insights into the hemodynamic behavior of the carotid artery, which included examining factors such as blood flow velocity, pressure distribution, and turbulence.

Currently, I am engaged in a research project with Dr. Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn in the field of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). In this project, I utilize my skills in data visualization and regression analysis to explore spatial patterns and relationships within geographic data. By applying advanced statistical techniques and visualization tools, we aim to uncover insights into various phenomena related to the happiness index.

Memorable Experience at Rutgers-Camden

My most memorable experience at Rutgers-Camden has been the opportunity to meet incredible new friends and participate in various events hosted by the university, such as the Dodgeball event and Masala Madness. These experiences have not only enriched my social life but also created lasting memories and connections that have positively impacted my time at the university.

In terms of my academic and career development, the Graduate School at Rutgers-Camden has played a crucial role in supporting my goals. By studying at this prestigious university, I have access to top-notch faculty and resources that have helped me build both my professional skills and personal growth. The Graduate School offers a wide range of programs and initiatives aimed at enhancing students’ academic experiences and preparing them for success in their chosen fields.

Moreover, the Graduate School provides various resources and support services to assist students in navigating their academic journey. Whether it’s academic advising, career counseling, or assistance with research projects, the Graduate School is always there to provide guidance and support. This supportive environment has been instrumental in helping me overcome challenges and achieve my academic and career aspirations.

Favorite Quote

The purpose of our lives is to be happy.

Dalai Lama

Jason F. Cilento, Mayor of Dunellen, NJ, Alumnus, Public Administration MPA

Jason F. Cilento, the Mayor of Dunellen, New Jersey, since January 1, 2020, and a Rutgers-Camden Public Administration (MPA) alumnus, started his political journey remarkably early, joining the Borough Council at just 20 years old. His leadership is characterized by a commitment to enhancing economic development, improving infrastructure, and nurturing a vibrant community spirit.

Path to Public Service and Economic Development

Cilento’s initial political engagement on the Borough Council paved the way for impactful governance, focusing on revitalizing Dunellen’s economic and social infrastructure. His administration has been instrumental in attracting new development and business projects, advocating for sustainable growth, and leveraging grants to bolster local infrastructure. This approach aims to make Dunellen an appealing destination for both businesses and residents, reflecting Cilento’s dedication to the borough’s prosperity.

Commitment to Environmental Sustainability and Community Resilience

Emphasizing environmental sustainability, Cilento has introduced measures to protect Dunellen’s natural resources and encourage green building practices. His leadership through challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and Hurricane Ida recovery, highlighted the resilience of Dunellen’s community. By fostering effective communication and community engagement, Cilento’s tenure as mayor aims to create an inclusive, vibrant environment, showcasing his comprehensive approach to governance and public service.

Athang Bhandarkar, Graduate Student, MS Data Science

Athang Sanjeev Bhandarkar, a native of Maharashtra, India, is a student in the master’s program in Data Science. He is contributing to innovative research initiatives by using the Geographical Information System as a student researcher for Dr. Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn. In this role, he has conducted a comprehensive analysis to determine the happiness index of Cali, Colombia.

Inspiration for choosing my Program

My inspiration for choosing my graduate program stemmed from a combination of factors. Firstly, the rigorous curriculum and the esteemed reputation of Rutgers University-Camden, in data science captivated me. The program’s comprehensive coursework and practical learning approach appealed to my eagerness to deepen my knowledge and skills in this rapidly evolving field.

Additionally, the opportunity to work alongside esteemed faculty members and engage in cutting-edge research projects was a significant draw. I was inspired by the prospect of contributing to innovative research initiatives and gaining practical experience, preparing me for a successful career in data science.

Moreover, the vibrant and diverse academic community at Rutgers-Camden, along with its proximity to industry hubs, provided ample opportunities for networking, collaboration, and professional growth. These elements collectively fueled my motivation to embark on a fulfilling journey towards achieving my academic and career aspirations in data science.

Academic Journey

My journey has been an enriching exploration of the intersection between learning, research, and practical application in data science.

Prior to joining Rutgers University-Camden, I completed my Bachelor of Technology in Information and Technology Engineering at Mumbai University, India. This background allowed me to bridge theory and practice, applying the rigorous academic curriculum to real-world challenges in data analysis and modeling.

Ongoing Research

Working with distinguished faculty members like Dr. Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn on cutting-edge research projects has been immensely rewarding. My role as a Geographical Information System Research Assistant under Dr. Okulicz-Kozaryn at Rutgers University-Camden, NJ, enabled me to conduct a thorough analysis of Cali, Colombia’s happiness index, considering various factors such as crime and air quality.

The vibrant academic community at Rutgers-Camden and its industry connections have offered numerous networking and collaboration opportunities, further motivating me to pursue my graduate studies and achieve my academic and career goals in data science.

Moving forward, I am excited to continue my research with Dr. Imam Dehzangi, aiming to advance the data science field, potentially resulting in impactful publications for the academic community and society.

Memorable Experience at Rutgers-Camden

A highlight of my time at Rutgers-Camden has been engaging in collaborative research projects. A particularly memorable project involved analyzing the impact of various factors on the happiness index of Cali, Colombia. This experience deepened my understanding of data science methodologies and underscored the importance of collaborative and interdisciplinary approaches in research.

The Graduate School at Rutgers-Camden has significantly contributed to my career goals by offering a rigorous academic curriculum, practical learning opportunities, and professional development, equipping me with the skills necessary for a successful career in data science.

Favorite Quote

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.

Winston Churchill

Colleen Duran, EMPA Alumna and Coverdell Fellow

Before becoming the Executive Director of the Delaware County Literacy Council (DCLC), Colleen Duran completed her studies in the Executive Masters of Public Administration (EMPA) Program at Rutgers-Camden. She was recognized as a Coverdell Fellow during this time, a distinction awarded to returning Peace Corps volunteers that covers full tuition and fees for EMPA program enrollees at Rutgers-Camden, celebrating their dedication to public service.

Educational and Professional Journey

Duran hails from Pittsburgh and started her professional journey in elementary education. Her path into public service led her to AmeriCorps, where she contributed as a literacy tutor. This experience was followed by a two-year commitment in Moldova, Eastern Europe, with the Peace Corps. Her career further developed at Association Headquarters, an organization committed to aiding non-profit organizations in realizing their goals. Over the years, Duran has filled several key roles within the non-profit sector, including Interim Executive Director, Chief Operating Officer, and Director of Education.

Leadership at the DCLC

As the Executive Director of the DCLC, Duran manages a broad array of tutoring services. These programs are designed to improve basic literacy and mathematics skills, financial literacy, and provide access to online health resources. Her leadership focuses on enhancing the literacy capabilities of adults in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, supporting their professional and community success. 

Morenike Alugo, PhD Student, Prevention Science

Morenike Alugo is a Ph.D. student of the Prevention Sciences program from Nigeria. Having authored and coauthored multiple papers in the areas of measuring empathy and emotions through narratives, she is focusing on the role of technology in addressing social and health challenges among young people. She is also a recipient of the Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs research scholarship.

Academic/Research Journey

My journey began with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Lagos, Nigeria, where I graduated with first-class honors. During my undergraduate years, I was mentored in research writing, which led to coauthoring two papers on neurodevelopmental disorders and caregiving. My thesis explored help-seeking behaviors among undergraduates. Post-graduation, my experiences spanned mental health, education, and research. I collaborated closely with a clinical psychologist at a mental health facility, gaining insight into practical mental health care. I also contributed to educational and administrative roles in a primary school, enhancing learning outcomes for young children. My passion for research led me to the Virtual Human-Computer Interaction Lab at Lagos Business School for over two years. Here, I worked on a Templeton World Charity Foundation-funded project that employed virtual reality games to teach children empathy and compassion. These experiences have honed my research focus on utilizing innovative technologies to tackle social and health-related challenges, especially in youth development and character education. I am also exploring emotional regulation, resilience, and civic engagement roles in addressing mental health issues among youths. 

Inspiration for Choosing Rutgers Camden for Graduate School

I am currently enrolled in the Prevention Science program at Rutgers. My inspiration stems from firsthand observations in my home country, where I witnessed cases of human suffering that could have been prevented early on. My involvement in volunteer work and outreach programs exposed me to the diverse challenges faced by young people in vulnerable communities. These challenges often lead to mental health disorders, substance abuse, and poor behavioral and academic outcomes. My teaching experience at a primary school further highlighted the plight of children with learning disabilities, who often become marginalized. These experiences have sharpened my focus on early intervention and preventive solutions rather than curative approaches, fueling my passion for Prevention Science. 

Current Research

My current research delves into measuring empathy and emotions through narratives. Focusing on the role of technology in addressing social and health challenges among youth, I am investigating cyberbullying and its prevention, including promoting character strengths and civic engagement. Additionally, I am collaborating with faculty members on studies examining crime, police expenditure, and racial diversity in selected magazines through content analysis. This semester, I am involved with the Walter Rand Research Institute, working on projects related to Southern New Jersey using United States Census data. 

Goals for the Academic Year

This academic year, I aim to advance my research within the field of Prevention Science, especially in emotional regulation, resilience, empathy, youth civic engagement, and the application of technology in preventive measures. I am keen on deepening my understanding of these domains and making significant contributions through evidence-based research. Engaging with the interdisciplinary nature of the Prevention Science Program at Rutgers University is also an expectation. I am excited to learn from faculty across various disciplines, including social sciences, health sciences, education, and business. Developing a comprehensive understanding of preventive solutions for global challenges in mental health and wellness is another major goal. 

Favorite Quote

Keep your face always toward the sunshine, and shadows will fall behind you.

Walt Whitman

Caroline Gray, Alumna, MPA Program

Caroline Gray, who is a Senior Project Manager of Corporate Business Development at the American Water is a two-time Rutgers University-Camden Alum who graduated from Rutgers with an undergraduate degree in Urban Studies and a Master’s in Public Administration with a Concentration in Community Development.

Academic Journey

I’ve always wanted to help people and give back.  Honestly, I had dreams of becoming a registered nurse, but my science skills didn’t support that dream so after a year into college I pivoted and decided to pursue a degree in Urban Studies – the study of people and cities.  Through the accelerated program offered at Rutgers University-Camden, I was accepted into their Master’s in Public Administration program during my final year of undergraduate studies.

Inspiration for Choosing Rutgers Camden for Graduate School

Rutgers University-Camden was a natural fit for me.  My family has a long history with the City of Camden after immigrating here from Germany.  My grandparents graduated from Woodrow Wilson Highschool, and my grandfather and other family members worked along the waterfront at the RCA factory.  my great uncle was a Camden City Policeman and owned a gas station on Mt. Ephraim.  My father is also a Rutgers Camden alumni and spent his career at L3 a business located on the waterfront – so for me, Camden felt like home and Rutgers was a natural choice.

Graduate School Experience

My life and career were positively impacted by some great people including my lecturers at the time Louis Bezich, Senior Vice President & Chief Administrative Officer, Cooper University Health Care and Lecturer, MPA Program,  Sean Hadley, Associate Director of Government Relations, N.J.E.A. Lecturer, MPA Program, and Dr Brandi Blessett. During graduate school, I gained insight into community development, the prevailing problems and I was empowered with adequate knowledge and skills to solve them. Eventually, I carried out a Green Infrastructure project, focusing on wastewater, illegal dumping, environment.

Impact of Graduate School on Career

I count my graduate school experience as one of my best decisions, having the most impact in my life.  Specifically, graduate school prepared and positioned me for my position as a Senior Project Manager of Corporate Business Development at American Water. My career skyrocketed because of my masters degree from Rutgers University Camden.

Favorite Quote

Leave your safety behind. Put your body on the line.  Stand before the people you fear and speak your mind – even if your voice shakes.

Maggie Kuhn founder of the Gray Panthers.

Victoria Scannella, Graduate Student, MA History Program

Victoria Scannella is a second-year graduate student of the Masters in History program with a focus on Public History. With a passion for American Civil War and a longtime dream of working in a Civil War Museum, she was part of the research team for the One House Many Homes research study

Academic Journey

I attended Stockton University and graduated in 2022 with my Bachelor of Arts degree in History. That Fall, I attended Rutgers University-Camden to get my Masters in Public History. I knew since high school that I wanted to work in museums, and specifically become a museum exhibition manager and curator. I also learned early on in high school that it was the American Civil War that I was specifically interested in. In undergrad, I had worked for a few years in museums and realized that I had wanted to continue working in museums in a curatorial and exhibition design position. The next step was figuring out what type of degree would allow me to have a versatile career, which was how I settled on a degree in public history.

My Rutgers Camden Experience

Choosing Rutgers-Camden was a pretty quick decision; I knew I wanted to have opportunities to work in museums in Philadelphia and wanted to be able to commute. Rutgers University-Camden gave me the opportunity to do both of those things, while also having accomplished professors who I knew I would be lucky to work with and learn from. One long-term goal would be to work in a Civil War Museum, particularly in Washington D.C or Maryland. In my time here, I have learned so much about the operations of museums and the practices of historic preservation. In addition to that, working with Dr. Charlene Mires and my fellow graduate students on the House Project this past year has been the most beneficial experience that I will utilize in my future career. Rutgers University-Camden has made a distinct difference in my studies and practice and led me to explore my passions in a different manner, while connecting with others to make things happen.

Project/ Research

The most significant project is the Graduate School project, where I worked with Dr. Mires, Gina Torres, Sebastian LaVergne, and John Sprague to uncover the history of the graduate school in our One House Many Homes research study. We worked together using various research methods and databases to figure out who was living in the house in 5 individual time periods, and how the growing city of Camden impacted their lives. The most significant internship I’ve done was at the Union League of Philadelphia, working under the archivist Keeley Tulio to catalogue, research, and transcribe letters and documents in the collection.

Favorite Quote

Whatever it is you seek, you have to put in the time, the practice, the effort. You must give up a lot to get it. It has to be very important to you. And once you have attained it, it is your power. It can’t be given away, it resides in you. It is literally the result of your discipline.

Michael Crichton “Jurassic Park”

Assemblyman Cody Miller, Alumnus, Public Administration MPA

Assemblyman Cody Miller, an alumnus of the Public Administration MPA program, became the youngest member of the New Jersey Assembly and the first born in the 1990s. In addition to his legislative role, he serves as the Director of Foundation and Alumni Relations at Rowan College of South Jersey, focusing on education and community development.

Political Activity

At only 21, Cody Miller was appointed the youngest community college trustee ever in New Jersey. Nearly a decade later, he now represents the 4th legislative district in the New Jersey General Assembly. At 32, Miller is the Assembly’s youngest member and the first New Jersey legislator born in the 1990s.

Legislative Activity

Assemblyman Miller serves on several committees, including Higher Education, Oversight, Reform and Federal Relations, and Science, Innovation, and Technology. In these roles, he significantly contributes to shaping policies that affect New Jersey’s educational and technological advancement.

Since being sworn in, Assemblyman Miller has sponsored numerous bills addressing a broad spectrum of social issues. His legislative efforts include providing counseling for children affected by domestic violence (A2998), promoting cybersecurity education in high schools (A2999), supporting veterans through property tax deductions (A3000), and enhancing social services, healthcare, and motor vehicle systems (A3001-A3003). Additionally, his initiatives focus on tenant rights, affordable housing, consumer protection, and public safety (A3362-A3981), as well as educational support, senior citizen benefits, and support for volunteer emergency services (A1146, A2778, A3344, A3348, A3532).

Dr. Claire Stricklin, Graduate Program Director, Emerging Media

Dr. Claire Stricklin, one of the new faculty members on campus this year, is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of English and Communication. She is the Program Director for the new Emerging Media program. Her research, which intersects with her passion for games, influences both her teaching and scholarly work, notably in collaborative storytelling within digital and analog realms.

Academic Journey

I’m from a lot of places. I was born in Oakland, but the family moved when I was two. We wound up in Montgomery, AL where I promptly developed an accent and a mullet. We moved to Wilmington, NC by the 4th grade, and that’s where I began to lose said accent. It was gone completely (along with the mullet) by the time I made it to freshman year in Portland, OR. I finished out high school in Buffalo, NY before taking on undergrad in Ithaca, NY. It was at this time that I became a slam poet, looked like a hippy, and decided to make a writer of myself. After graduation, it was another summer in Alabama with the family before heading out for my first big-kid job in Cheyenne, WY. I spent 10 years as a state employee in the Cowboy State before realizing I’d rather work on my own big ideas than blog about other peoples’. By the time I left my gig as a social media monkey at the Wyoming State Arts Council I had an MA in English through the University of Wyoming. That was good enough to gain entry to the Digital Media PhD program at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. That’s the most recent where-I’m-from before accepting my position as an Assistant Teaching Professor here at Ruggers-Camden.

It was a long walk. I’m very tired.

Back at the University of Wyoming, I took an Arthurian Literature class. Because my passion is games, I asked if I could write my final paper on a board game called Shadows Over Camelot. I was surprised when they let me go through with it. Seeing the despair of the grail quest and the treachery of Mordred reflected through game mechanics was revelatory to me. You mean to say all those analytical skills I picked up as an English major can be used for more than traditional literature? Buh!? My subsequent MA thesis dealing with tabletop roleplay modules and my dissertation in actual play podcasting sprang directly from that moment.

Professional Responsibilities and Goals

I’m proud to be a part of the new Emerging Media program. I’m well positioned as a Digital Media PhD to help train the next generation of professionals and academics in research design and multimedia execution.

My research is focused on collaborative storytelling in hybrid environments. By examining the shifts in emergent behavior that appear when play moves from the analog to the digital world, my work articulates the complex relationships that form between people, formal systems, and networks of power.” In practice, that means I’m interested in who gets to tell stories and how games reflect those narratives. My most recent publication is an extended abstract at the upcoming Foundations of Digital Games conference in  Guadalajara. It was coauthored by one of my undergraduate students, and features equal parts horror gameplay and existentialist philosophy.

Favorite Quote

My idea of hell is a blank sheet of paper. Or a blank screen. And me, staring at it, unable to think of a single thing worth saying, a single character that people could believe in, a single story that hasn’t been told before. Staring at a blank sheet of paper. Forever.

Neil Gaiman

Susan Muaddi Darraj, Alumna, Creative Writing, MFA

Susan Muaddi Darraj, a graduate of the Creative Writing MFA program, is an author of literature for both adults and children. Her accolades include an American Book Award, two Arab American Book Awards, and the Maryland State Arts Council Independent Artist Award. She was honored as a USA Artists Ford Fellow in 2018. Darraj’s literary contributions include the acclaimed short story collection “A Curious Land” and the popular “Farah Rocks” series for children. Her recent work, “Behind You is the Sea,” has attracted attention from notable media outlets such as The Washington Post, Baltimore Magazine, and Baltimore’s NPR affiliate, WYPR radio.

Professional Achievements and Contributions

Susan is an editor at Barrelhouse Magazine and the former editor-in-chief of The Baltimore Review. Her fiction has been featured in New York Stories, The Orchid Literary Review, Mizna, Sukoon, Fifth Wednesday Journal, Banipal, and other publications. Her articles, essays, and reviews have appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, The Little Patuxent Review, The Baltimore City Paper, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Al-Jadid, Baltimore Magazine, Pages Magazine, Sojourner, Calyx, Urbanite, and additional outlets. As a participating author with the PEN/Faulkner Writers in Schools program, Susan has served on the selection committee for the One Maryland One Book (OMOB) program of the Maryland Humanities Council and frequently acts as a judge for writing contests and as a panelist on state and national grant programs in the creative arts. In 2019, she joined the #KidsNeedMentors initiative, pairing with local schools as a visiting author.

Cultural Advocacy and Editing Works

In 2019, Susan launched the viral #TweetYourThobe social media campaign to promote Palestinian culture. Later that year, she was named the winner of the Rose Nader Award by the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), an honor given by the Nader family to individuals who demonstrate a strong dedication and commitment to values of equality and justice. She edited “Scheherazade’s Legacy: Arab and Arab American Women on Writing,” published in 2004 by Praeger Publishers. With Waïl Hassan, she co-edited a volume for the MLA’s Approaches to Teaching World Literature Series on Nobel Laureate Naguib Mahfouz. She has contributed chapters to several anthologies and collections, including “Dinarzad’s Children: An Anthology of Contemporary Arab American Fiction” and “Colonize This!: Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism.” Her other books include young adult biographies of Indira Gandhi, Amy Tan, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, among others, for Chelsea House Publishers.

Literary Works and Themes

Susan’s contributions extend to “A Curious Land,” “The Inheritance of Exile,” and her most recent, “Behind You is the Sea.” Her latest novel explores a Palestinian American community in Baltimore, focusing on the intertwined lives of the Baladi, Salameh, and Ammar families. It confronts cultural stereotypes and explores themes such as identity, intergenerational conflict, and class distinctions. The narrative captures a range of emotions and events, from joyous weddings to solemn funerals, reflecting both personal growth and the collective spirit of the community, providing an insightful look into the challenges and triumphs faced by Palestinian Americans.

Dr. Sunil Shende, Graduate Director, Computer Science & Data Science Programs

Dr. Sunil Shende, originally from Pune, Western India is the Graduate Program Director (GPD) of the M.S. Computer Science and M.S. Data Science. He is an alum of the University of Pennsylvania where he obtained a Ph.D. in Computer Science. He has supported Rutgers University-Camden undergraduates and master’s students in gaining advanced technical skills to become successful leaders, innovators, and self-motivated learners.

Role

At the moment, I wear two administrative hats: I am the Undergraduate Program Coordinator (UPC) and the Graduate Program Director (GPD) for the Computer Science department, as well as the Graduate Program Director of the interdisciplinary Data Science program. In my role as the UPC, I oversee many aspects of undergraduate student advising, including prerequisite overrides, transfer equivalencies and graduation certification. As GPD for two programs, my duties run the gamut from admission decisions to advising students, and to liaising with various participating departments and campus offices like the International Students Office, the Career Center, and the Graduate Admissions Office.

Academic Journey

I obtained my undergraduate degree from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Kanpur, which is in northern India. I was fortunate to attend one of the most competitive and prestigious STEM institutions in India, and I am really grateful for the seminal education that I received there. I was in only the second graduating class from India (in 1984) in the field of Computer Science – it was a very young field back then, in India and elsewhere! Just imagine: email, the internet as we know it, laptops, the world-wide-web, cell phones – none of these existed when I first arrived for graduate school at the

University of Pennsylvania as an international student. In retrospect, graduate school was a heady, intellectually stimulating experience. I got opportunities to explore many different areas within Computer Science and even took courses outside the field, e.g., in linguistics and mathematical logic. Participating in conferences and research meetings, and spending time learning from amazing professors and fellow graduate students was instrumental in cementing an abiding passion for academic research and teaching. It wasn’t all work of course: I played league cricket in Philadelphia, started Penn’s first cricket team, learned to play squash, became a decent cook, attended concerts and performances, went on camping trips and hikes, and struck up wonderful, life-long friendships.

After I defended a dissertation on theoretical formalisms for natural language processing and graduated with a Ph.D. in 1990, my career path was pretty clear to me: I loved teaching and research and really did not feel like I belonged in industry. My first job was in academia: as a professor at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. After spending a few years in Lincoln, I moved back to the East Coast, to Rutgers-Camden and have been here ever since!

Research 

I am mainly interested in algorithms, and specifically their theoretical analysis. However, fairly early on, I made the conscious choice of not sticking to just one narrow area of specialization. My research interests are fairly broad: parallelism in natural language processing; algorithms for network protocols; distributed algorithms for coordination problems like multi-agent search and pattern formation; game theory; the application of algorithmic data mining techniques in scientific computing etc.

The lack of a PhD program in Computer Science on the Rutgers University-Camden campus meant that most of my research was done in collaboration with academic colleagues outside the campus. With funding from the National Science Foundation, I have also been able to support some talented undergraduate and Masters students at Camden on various research projects.

Plan for the Programs 

Both Computer Science and Data Science are heavily sought-after fields, and most research universities now have graduate programs in these areas. So there is a lot of competition among universities like Rutgers-Camden to attract students, especially international students, to their programs. Our plans for these graduate programs at Rutgers-Camden are to grow them in a sustainable manner without compromising quality, and in my role as Graduate Director, I strive to provide the direction and leadership that will make this happen. It means managing the admissions process with the intent of maintaining high standards for acceptance, and ensuring that our students, once admitted, get superior technical training towards becoming successful leaders, innovators and self-motivated learners. It also entails making efforts to gain more visibility for the programs in the region, which in turn can lead to better prospects for our graduates for finding good jobs and launching robust careers.

Favorite Quote

Ideas are where you find them.

John McPhee

Laura Collins, OSDFA Director & Psychological Sciences Alumna

Laura Collins, a native of Gloucester City, NJ, is the Founding Director of the Office of Scholar Development and Fellowship Advising (OSDFA). In this role, she empowers both current students and alumni by supporting their access to fellowship and grant opportunities. Prior to establishing the OSDFA, she served as Assistant Dean and Associate Director for the Honors College at Rutgers University – Camden. She is also an alumna of the M.A. in Psychological Sciences program.

Role

As the Director of OSDFA, I identify a wide variety of external award opportunities that best align with our campus mission and student interests, promoting and supporting students in their applications. I am actively engaged in leading workshops, supporting individual students, and promoting these opportunities campus-wide.

Academic Journey

I am a proud Rutgers University-Camden alumna, having earned my Bachelor of Arts degree (with majors in English and Psychology) in 2008 and then a Master of Arts degree in Psychology. As a student on campus, I engaged in academic research opportunities and was employed in offices across campus (from admissions to the library to new student programs and the Honors College). These experiences shaped my perception of Higher Education Administration and altered my trajectory to fit my interests in supporting first-generation college students (like myself).

Research 

I was fortunate to be mentored as a student by two outstanding and generous faculty members, Dr. Luis Garcia (retired) and Dr. Charlotte Markey. Alongside both, I published several articles in social science journals. After graduation, I remained involved in research as an interest and hobby, and have authored articles exploring my professional interests (namely support for / success barriers for pre-medical students).

Plan for the OSDFA 

The Office of Scholar Development and Fellowship Advising serves a large community at Rutgers University– Camden, including undergraduates, graduate students, and alumni. As such, our vision is to continue expanding our reach to ensure that as many students as possible are aware of the opportunities that are available to them. We are especially focused on changing the narrative of who applies for and successfully earns these distinguished opportunities. We want our applicants to know that they are outstanding candidates for these opportunities and they can achieve their goals.

Favorite Quote

When I have been truly searching for my treasure, I’ve discovered things along the way that I never would have seen had I not had the courage to try things that seemed impossible to achieve.

The Alchemist

Sebastian LaVergne, Graduate Student, MA History Program

Sebastian LaVergne, originally from Southern, New Jersey, is an alum of Rutgers University-New Brunswick and a graduate student in the M.A. History Program at Rutgers University-Camden, with a focus on Public History. They are a member of the research team that worked on the project ‘One House, Many Homes‘, which focused on the history of the Graduate School House.

Academic Journey

Sebastian is in their final semester of the Public History Master’s Program. Initially, they pursued pre-veterinary studies at Rutgers University-New Brunswick but switched to history with a minor in criminology. This change was driven by a growing interest in the social impacts that have historically altered perceptions of criminality (e.g., criminalized sexualities and genders, as well as racialized crimes stemming from social beliefs and taboos rather than legal criminalization).

They chose Rutgers University-Camden for their graduate studies because it was one of the few universities offering a Master’s in Public History. Having already been an alum of Rutgers, transitioning to a new campus was not a challenge.

Impact of Graduate School-Camden

Throughout their program, Sebastian has explored numerous cases highlighting the necessity of their career in enabling communities to learn more about themselves and others. It has been crucial in amplifying voices often overlooked and illuminating misconceptions and challenging conversations that the public may be reluctant to address. Sebastian has developed various methods for interpreting history, allowing the dissemination of information to audiences both within and outside the historical domain. Their keen interest lies in aspects of history that are predominantly difficult conversations, yet frequently attract media attention, whether historical or contemporary. This makes Sebastian’s capability to initiate and mediate such discussions particularly valuable. They aspire to work as a professor and historical researcher for multi-media projects.

Research Interest 

During their undergraduate studies, Sebastian interned at East Jersey Old Town Village in Piscataway, NJ, as a researcher on NJ farming of corn and broom sorghum from 1600 to 1860. Following their graduation and acceptance into the Rutgers Master’s Program, they were fortunate to join the Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities (MARCH) Historical House Project for 211 N. 5th Street (the Graduate School House), tasked with uncovering the occupants from 1890 to 1990. Currently, Sebastian is collaborating with another student in the same Master’s track to develop a database and construct the framework for the Lawnside Project (in partnership with the Digital Studies Center). This project aims to support future volunteers and those interested in the community of Lawnside, NJ, focusing on the history of the area’s Black community.

Favorite Quote

You have to know the past to understand the present.

Carl Sagan

Katrina DeWitt, Alumna, Biology MS Program

Katrina DeWitt, originally from South Jersey, is an alumna of the Biology M.S. program and the Rutgers-Camden undergraduate programs. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Biology at Duke University, where her research focuses on microbial communities and their responses to predation and environmental pressures. She credits the academic and research foundation obtained at Rutgers University-Camden as pivotal in preparing her for her upcoming graduation with a doctorate in approximately one year.

Academic Journey

I graduated from Delsea Regional High School in 2015. I immediately enrolled in Rutgers University-Camden, where I got involved with research. A pivotal moment that influenced my decision was my participation in the research showing program during my first year. I applied to a lab (Dr. Angelica Gonzalez) and quickly fell in love with research and ecology. This led me to participate in Rutgers University-Camden’s Research Experience for Undergraduate program, where I got to go to Poland in 2016 with Dr. Angelica Gonzalez to study spiders and their webs to assess atmospheric pollution. I have always had a deep love of nature and being able to study it (even just identifying insects under a microscope) was fulfilling. I received my Bachelor of Science in Biology from Rutgers Camden in 2018.    

Motivation for Choosing Your Program

My choice to pursue graduate studies at Rutgers University-Camden stems from the supportive academic atmosphere I encountered during my undergraduate studies. Throughout my bachelor’s program, I was struck by the abundance of resources accessible to students, where professors knew us personally and offered consistent support, mentorship, and access to essential tools for academic growth. The faculty and staff at Rutgers University-Camden extended a warm welcome, cultivating a sense of belonging that deeply resonated with me. I consider Rutgers Camden a second home and miss being a part of the community daily.

Research Interest/ Plans 

Rutgers University-Camden shaped my love for research and teaching. As a graduate student, I was awarded a Teaching Assistantship to fund my master’s program, where I taught ecology and microbiology labs to undergraduate biology and nursing students. I received the Dean’s Graduate Student Research and Travel Grant and graduated with a thesis with distinction. This led me to start a Ph.D. in Biology at Duke University under Dr. Jean-Phi Gibert, from which I will graduate in the spring of 2025. At Duke, I study microbial communities and their responses to predation and environmental pressures. 

The skills I learned at Rutgers University-Camden have carried me through my career and have been incredibly important. Without the academic and research foundations instilled in me at Rutgers-Camden, I would not be where I am today.

Favorite Quote

Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice, and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.

Pele

Chioma Uchendu, PhD Candidate, Computational and Integrative Biology

Chioma Uchendu originally from Nigeria is a Ph.D. candidate in the Computational and Integrative Biology program. With a research interest in understanding sphingolipid trafficking in Caulobacter crescentus, she is leveraging the program to build scientific skills, leadership abilities, and problem-solving abilities. 

Academic Journey

My journey started with an undergraduate degree in Microbiology from the University of Port-Harcourt, Nigeria. I accepted the opportunity to study Computational and Integrative Biology, a field I am exploring as a Ph.D. candidate. The program is allowing me to bridge the gap between traditional biological sciences and cutting-edge computational methodologies.   

Motivation for Choosing Your Program

The Computational and Integrative Biology Program  serves as a convergence point where diverse STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) disciplines intersect. My research in an array of scientific domains has facilitated a deeper comprehension of various disciplines in STEM, bolstering my problem-solving skills, critical thinking, and creativity. These acquired abilities collectively enhance my ongoing professional growth and development. 

Rutgers-Camden Experience

My experience at Rutgers-Camden has been transformative. What sets the CIB program apart is its diverse research community. Beyond the curriculum, the CIB community has nurtured an environment that fosters collaboration, intellectual exchange, and mutual support.   

The CIB program stands out for its diverse research community, fostering strong student-professor relationships and providing convenient access to abundant resources for research and learning., Upon graduation, my career aspirations involve working as a scientist in the research and development sector of pharmaceutical and/or biotech companies. The experience of being part of the diverse CIB community and acquiring the ease of scientific skills, leadership abilities, and problem-solving skills will undoubtedly contribute to my success in this field. 

Research Interest/ Plans 

My primary research interest is to accurately understand sphingolipid trafficking in Caulobacter crescentus. This project, undertaken on a deeply personal level, unfolds as a captivating journey—from formulating scientific queries to unraveling the intricacies of the subject matter. The laboratory becomes a canvas for exploration, where a variety of experiments are conducted to satiate my unyielding curiosity. Being a part of the Klein lab, under the tutelage of Dr. Eric Klein in the CIB program has been immensely advantageous for me. This association has not only exposed me to experimental methodologies but has also introduced me to the world of computational approaches in addressing complex biological questions. 

Favorite Quote

Science knows no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity, and is the torch which illuminates the world.

Louis Pasteur

Heather Cooper, EMPA Alum, Councilwoman, Evesham NJ

Heather Cooper is an alumna of the Executive Master of Public Administration program at Rutgers University-Camden and currently serves as a councilwoman on the Evesham Township Council in New Jersey. She has previously held the position of Deputy Mayor and worked as a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Course Instructor at Rutgers University.

Academic Journey

Before earning her MPA, Councilwoman Cooper received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Thomas Edison State University and completed her executive-level Master’s degree in Public Administration at Rutgers University-Camden.

Impact

For over 20 years, Heather has dedicated herself to working in Human Services, advocating for individuals with disabilities. She continues to champion relationship-building and community partnerships throughout her professional endeavors. Heather is actively involved in the Parent Teacher Organization and Parent Teacher Association at Demasi and Van Zant schools in New Jersey. She also serves as an active board member of her homeowners’ association, her church, and other civic organizations.

Dr. Michael Hayes, Graduate Director, MPA Program

Dr. Michael Hayes is the Graduate Director of the Masters in Public Administration (MPA) program and a lecturer in the Department of Public Policy & Administration (DPPA). He is passionate about policy-relevant research that informs and shapes the policy process, which he has done through his numerous research publications.

Role

I am a researcher, teacher, mentor, and graduate director at Rutgers University-Camden. Since joining the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in the fall 2014, I have been teaching graduate students in the Department of Public Policy & Administration (DPPA). Specifically, I teach courses at the master’s- and doctoral-level in public policy analysis, research methods, financial management, and public budgeting. Additionally, as a tenure-track faculty member, a large part of my job is to conduct my own research projects, primarily in the fields of public budgeting and education policy, and to supervise/mentor student-led research projects like dissertations. More recently, I serve as the graduate program director of the master’s in public administration (MPA) program, where I am responsible for various duties including student recruiting, academic advising, maintaining our NASPAA accreditation, and assisting in updating our courses and program. 

Academic Journey

I did not grow up thinking that I would pursue an academic career. While finishing my undergraduate degree in economics and political science, I was planning to start a career in local town management. However, graduating at the start of the Great Recession, I needed to pivot to graduate school in Washington, DC, while working part-time at the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development as a program analyst. My time as both an MPA student and working part-time in the federal government provided me with multiple opportunities to conduct public policy research to inform policymakers. My enjoyment with conducting public policy research led me to pursue a PhD in Public Policy and Administration.  

As a first-year doctoral student, I wanted to take as many quantitative methods courses as possible to have a competitive skillset for non-academic jobs because I did not think an academic career was an option for me. However, over time, I grew more confident in myself through great mentorship, presenting at academic conferences, and publishing research in academic journals. I was truly fortunate to start my academic career at Rutgers University-Camden with my great Rutgers colleagues in and outside of my department.  

Research

My current research agenda has always been geared towards conducting policy-relevant research that informs and shapes the policy process. I am particularly interested in the K-12 academic achievement gap and how educational resources (e.g., teacher quality, time in school, school funding/expenditures, school leadership) can widen or reduce the achievement gap. For example, I have studied the impact of extending the school year on academic achievement and found that high-achieving students benefit the most from additional days in school. This suggests a one-size-fits-all approach to extending the school year might increase the achievement gap.  

I have studied how various actors in school systems (e.g., teachers, superintendents, and school boards) respond to budgetary constraints in school districts. For example, I have studied how budgetary constraints on school districts can increase the likelihood of teacher turnover and superintendent turnover. In a recently published policy research report, I studied how school districts responded fiscally following a sudden reduction in state aid funding and if these fiscal responses resulted in a reduction in student achievement.  

Beyond that, I have studied how allowing cannabis businesses in a local jurisdiction can impact the local property tax base (i.e., residential home sale prices), the role that teachers and principals play in student discipline outcomes, and how school districts respond to state takeovers. More information about my research is available through my faculty profile.  

Plan for the Program

I was fortunate to inherit a strong and well-run MPA program that was previously led by my colleague, Dr. Angie McGuire. In the short run, my goal is to maintain this program and learn as much as possible about being a graduate director at Rutgers University-Camden. In the long-run, I would love to continue to increase the enrollment of the MPA program, expand the number of data analytical courses and credentials offered, and build a strong network for our alumni and current students.  

Favorite Quote

So you’re telling me there’s a chance.

Movie: Dumb and Dumber, 1994

Cristhian C. Altamirano, Alumn, MS Psychological Sciences

Cristhian C. Altamirano, originally from “The Heights” in Jersey City, New Jersey is an alum of the Master’s in Psychology Sciences program. His passion for social and educational/cognitive psychology has guided him to a career in Early College Programs enrollment and prediction. Also, he is presently pursuing his doctorate studies in Educational Psychology at the Rutgers University’s Graduate School of Education.

Academic Journey

I earned my bachelor’s degree in psychology from Rutgers University Newark and fell in love with psychology, for the art and science that the field is. The field always fascinated me, especially in terms of social and educational/cognitive psychology, the various processes that play a critical role in learning and instruction, and the dynamics that influence people across different settings and contexts.

I knew I wanted to continue in this field to eventually be in a doctorate program in psychology. I pursued Rutgers University-Camden’s masters in experimental psychology program to continue to develop skills critical to my work in student affairs and higher education in general, while preparing me to enter a doctorate program.

Inspiration for Choosing Your Program

There were several key reasons for my decision to study at the Graduate School at Rutgers University-Camden. Due to taking a couple of graduate courses as an undergraduate student, the transfer process was smooth and made clear that I would be able to attain my degree within three semesters, being part-time for my last term of enrollment. Also, I was offered to be one of two inaugural Course Initiative for Student Success (CISS) scholars in the psychology department, which provided me a scholarship and most importantly, an opportunity to serve students at academic risk, by being an adjunct instructor in the psychology department. The financial assistance and opportunity to develop professionally and academically attracted me to their program. In addition, the faculty of the psychology department were extraordinary. Conducting research alongside them was insightful and a one-of-a-kind experience. The hands-on research experience helped me further develop in data analysis and interpretation, that would come useful to me in my professional and doctorate journey.

Impact of Graduate School on Professional Progress

My graduate studies at Rutgers University-Camden were critical in expanding my career in higher education and current doctorate studies. Data assessment and using empirical research to make data-informed decisions was important for my career in student affairs. To be more specific, analyzing data and trends is critical in my current role in Early College Programs to make predictions on enrollment patterns across Hudson County high schools.

In terms of my doctorate studies in educational psychology, my faculty advisor has praised both my empirical writing and quantitative analysis skills from the start of my tenure in the program, which I attribute to the intensity and high quality of Rutgers University-Camden’s psychology program. My research interests lie in teaching efficacy, developmental education, and graph comprehension among college students. Currently, my proposed dissertation will examine graph comprehension in single-bar graphs among students in developmental math and college algebra, using a sociocultural lens. I am interested to know if prior sociocultural knowledge and experiences could influence our graph literacy skills.

Favorite Memories of Rutgers University-Camden

One of the biggest highlights of my time at Rutgers University-Camden was serving as a Course Initiative for Student Success scholar. I was proud to be one of two chosen in the psychology department, to teach students statistics. Because of the opportunity to serve as an adjunct all three semesters of my master’s program, the door to college instruction continued to open for me. I ended up teaching statistics across undergraduate and graduate level programs in psychology, criminal justice and public affairs and administration, in addition to assisting my classmates in my doctoral course DESIGNING INTERVENTIONS with SPSS analyses.

One of my passions is teaching and this opportunity led me to develop this craft and better understand pedagogy and instruction. It meshed well with my doctoral program in educational psychology that has a specialization in learning, cognition, instruction and development. I enjoy instructing my students on various course topics and learning from them, building my course materials to be the most accessible and user-friendly, while maintaining rigor in my materials. Although I believe they discontinued the CISS support across several departments, this opportunity was second-to-none and exemplary. I still feel its effects as I teach psychology sections at Hudson County Community College, where I work full-time under Student Affairs and Enrollment.

Favorite Quote

Those who have a why to live, can bear with almost any how.

Dr. Viktor E. Frankl

Kayla Allende, Administrative Assistant, Graduate School

Kayla Allende, the Administrative Assistant at the Graduate School House, embodies the warmth and hospitality that are central to the Graduate School’s student-focused mission. Kayla transforms our space into a nurturing and inviting environment. Kayla is dedicated to helping students at every stage of their academic journey—whether past, present, or future. Her support is pivotal,  enriching, and strengthening the graduate school experience for all.

Academic Journey

I earned my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Bryn Athyn College, a liberal arts institution in the city of Philadelphia. This experience laid a solid foundation. I have set my sights on attaining a master’s degree at Rutgers-Camden Graduate School.

Contribution to the Graduate School

In my role, I manage the day-to-day operations of the Graduate School House, providing administrative support to the associate dean and assistant deans. I am also a link between students and the resources available on campus.

Future Work Commitments

My goal aligns with the collective vision of my team – to position Rutgers-Camden as a hidden gem for graduate students worldwide. We are dedicated to highlighting the school’s outstanding graduate programs and the wealth of talented faculty who are ready to collaborate closely with students. Through our efforts, we aim to broadcast the message that Rutgers-Camden is an ideal destination for those seeking a high-quality graduate education.

Favorite Quote

In their hearts, humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.

Proverbs 16:9

Mi Kyung Jasmine Je, EMPA Alum, President AWCA

Mi Kyung Jasmine Je is an alum of the Executive Master of Public Administration. She is currently the President and Executive Director of the Asian Women’s Christian Association (AWCA) in Bergen County, where she leads a nonprofit social service organization dedicated to providing families with the resources to become healthy, contributing members of society through education, social, and home care services. She is also a recipient of the Urban Angel award from the New York Theological Seminary.

Academic Journey

Before attending Rutgers University-Camden, Jasmine obtained a degree in Bachelor of Arts in Christian Education from the Presbyterian College and Theological Seminary, South Korea. Over the years, she also attended institutions like Sky Institute, Shanghai- China, Union Theological Seminary, New York City, and Bergen Community College, Hackensack, New Jersey.

Career Journey

Joining AWCA in 2008 as the Program Director, Mi Kyung Jasmine brought her experiences to enhance their community programs. Her dedication to service led to her promotion to the position of Executive Director in 2012, and now, she also serves as the President.

Alongside other impact projects, in 2018 she launched the AWCA Social Welfare Radio Broadcast program, providing free consultation on social welfare services, and the AWCA Life YouTube Channel in September 2020 as a unique way to celebrate and commemorate AWCA’s 40th anniversary of serving the local community. In 2020, she implemented the ‘ANGEL Basket COVID-19 Relief Food Drive’, a program of baskets with essential food, health & safety items, and cash assistance for financially needy people. She completed extensive grant proposals and received $165K in grant donations during the height of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Recognition and Award

In 2018, Jasmine was honored with the Urban Angel award from New York Theological Seminary in recognition of her efforts towards humanity.

New Students Share Their Reasons for Choosing Rutgers-Camden

This semester, new students from all over the globe joined programs in the Graduate School. The scientists, administrators, and artists who enrolled this spring semester cited diverse reasons for choosing the Graduate School, including the university’s strong academic reputation, its welcoming and inclusive community, the availability of unique and career-focused programs, and its ideal location. 

Learn more about these new and continuing Scarlet Raptors.

Ryan Maltman, New Jersey
Criminal Justice, M.A.

I chose Rutgers Camden graduate school to complete my Master’s degree in Criminal Justice because I couldn’t think of a better place to complete it. I did my undergrad here and the professors were supportive. They want you to succeed and so I just knew I had to come back here and get my master’s degree. The campus is great. Everybody is friendly. And the resources available to students here are amazing. Everybody wants to see you succeed and I’m really happy to be here and complete my master’s degree.

Rituba Jhala,  New Jersey
Chemistry, M.S. 

My sister studied at Rutgers University-Camden. I got a lot of positive feedback and recommendations about the campus, faculties, and staff. She talked about how they your academic journey, as well as point you in the direction of your career goals. Based on this, I felt this would be a great place to start my graduate school journey, by pursuing a Master’s in Chemistry with a focus on pharmaceutical chemistry.

Shaik Mohammed Sadiq, India
Data Science, M.S. 

I have a friend who started the Data Science Master’s program in Fall 2023 here at Rutgers University-Camden, so when I was considering graduate school, I reached out to her. From our conversation, I was convinced that the course curriculum aligned with my career progression, which informed my decision to join the university. Also, the college life provides a sense of community.

Bhavyani Dodda, India
Data Science, M.S. 

Rutgers University-Camden has been my preferred university for graduate study since my final year of undergraduate study. While researching the Master’s in Data Science program, I was so fascinated by the campus, the courses, the wide range of variety, and of course, the reputation that Rutgers holds in the United States. And I so badly wanted to get into Rutgers and, well, things played out right for me. And I’m finally here. I’m so glad to experience this university for the next couple of years and to take a bunch of memories back home.

Samuel Kankam, MS Mathematical Sciences Alum

Samuel Kankam, an alum of the Mathematical Sciences program at Rutgers-Camden and currently a Mathematics Lecturer, has made significant contributions to the academic community. During his days as a student, he actively participated in the Graduate Student Organization and the Graduate School Advisory Council, reflecting his dedication to community involvement.

Academic Journey

I migrated from Ghana to the States in 2007, marking the beginning of a significant academic journey. Starting at the University of Cape Coast in Ghana, I later transferred to The Ohio State University for my undergrad in math. This period was not just about academic learning; it was about realizing my deep passion for teaching.

Observations and Aspirations

During my last two years at Ohio State, I observed many undergraduates struggling with math. This observation led me to pursue further education at MIT, aiming to address these foundational gaps and rise to the level of a professor, a role I deeply aspired to.

Choosing Rutgers-Camden

I was drawn to Rutgers-Camden for its welcoming nature and focus on individual success. The stark contrast between the impersonal setting at Ohio State and the inclusive environment at Rutgers-Camden made me feel valued and supported. Here, I wasn’t just a number; I was part of a community.

Teaching and Engaging

At Rutgers-Camden, I cherished the opportunity to teach courses as part of my master’s program in the math department. This experience allowed me to step into the role of an educator while continuing my studies. The small class sizes fostered a serious yet supportive learning environment, promoting both academic rigor and personal connections.

Community Involvement and Personal Growth

Being actively involved in the graduate school and the wider Rutgers community was crucial. It allowed me to provide guidance, share insights, and offer support, enriching my experience and making me feel more connected to my field and the academic community.

Reflection and Future Aspirations

As I reflect on my time at Rutgers-Camden, the teaching experience, the academic rigor, and the supportive community have all been instrumental in preparing me for my future in academia. As a Lecturer in Mathematics at Rutgers-Camden, I’m committed to fostering an environment where every student feels supported and inspired to reach their full potential.

Joseph Abbas, PhD Student, Prevention Science

Hailing from Nigeria, Joseph Abbas is a current graduate student in the Prevention Science program at Rutgers-Camden University. Inspired by a dedication to advancing prevention science and psychology, he is particularly committed to community-based interventions and preventive healthcare.

Academic Journey

I hold a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a master’s in clinical psychology from the University of Jos, Nigeria. Throughout my academic journey, I engaged in impactful research projects, contributing to five publications in national and international journals.

Research and Professional Interests

At the core of my academic passion lies a keen interest in prevention science and psychology. I am devoted to exploring innovative strategies for community-based interventions, promoting preventive healthcare, addressing health disparities, and enhancing the well-being of diverse populations.

Goals for the Academic Year

For the ongoing academic year, my aspirations are multifaceted. I aim to deepen my understanding and expertise in prevention science and psychology, actively engage in research projects focusing on community-based interventions and preventive healthcare and disseminate my findings through publications in reputable journals. Networking with professionals and academics in the field is pivotal to foster collaborations and gain new insights. Alongside excelling in coursework, I am keen on contributing to ongoing projects at Rutgers University and developing new research proposals. 

Favorite Quote

Prevention is better than cure.

Desiderius Erasmus

Karena Joy, MS Biology Alumna

Karena Catherine Joy is an alumnus of the Master of Science in Biology. Originally from Sicklerville, NJ, she pursued her undergraduate degree in Biology where she won multiple awards including the Dr. Owen and Ronald Rahman Award in 2021 and the Scarlet Scholar Award in 2018. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in Pharmacy, while working at the transplant laboratory at Penn Medicine.

Academic Journey

I completed my high school education in India and relocated to the United States in 2017 with my family. In the fall of 2018, I commenced my Bachelor of Science in Biology at Rutgers University-Camden. I participated in the summer bridge program at Rutgers which helped me to familiarize myself with the college environment and resources. This program played a pivotal role in shaping me for the academic journey that was ahead. As I progressed through my undergraduate studies, I learned about the BS/MS program offered by Rutgers University-Camden. Given my passion for research, I decided to pursue my master’s degree at Rutgers University-Camden. The opportunity to work under the guidance of Dr. Jinglin Fu further fueled my interest. I chose the thesis track for my M.S., and I successfully completed my thesis on “Functionalization of Gold Nanoparticles with Thiolated DNA.” This academic journey has not only enhanced my knowledge but also provided valuable hands-on experience in my field of study.  

Inspiration for choosing Rutgers-Camden for Graduate School

The decision to pursue graduate studies at Rutgers University-Camden was inspired by the invaluable resources and supportive academic environment I experienced during my undergraduate studies. Throughout my time as a bachelor’s student, I recognized the wealth of resources available, where most professors not only knew students by name but also provided unwavering support, guidance, and access to all the necessary tools for academic development. One notable experience that influenced my decision was participating in the Principles and Practices of Biological Research course during my sophomore year. This course involved collaborative group work on a research project, offering a glimpse into the university’s commitment to hands-on and collaborative learning. The professors and staff at Rutgers University-Camden were exceptionally welcoming, fostering a sense of community that resonated with me. During my undergraduate journey, I also had the privilege of working in Dr. Fu’s lab, an experience that proved to be both rewarding and enlightening. The supportive and conducive research environment further solidified my decision to continue my Master of Science journey at Rutgers University-Camden. I consider myself fortunate to have the opportunity to pursue my master’s thesis under Dr. Fu’s guidance, a continuation of the mentorship and learning that has been a hallmark of my time at Rutgers. The ongoing support from staff, student success coaches, and librarians, who were always willing to help and follow up to ensure I had every resource available, contributed significantly to my positive experience at Rutgers-Camden.  

Research and Achievements

During my undergraduate studies at Rutgers, I received recognition, including the Dr. Owen and Ronald Rahman Award in 2021 and the Scarlet Scholar Award in 2018. I was also honored as an Athenaeum inductee and received certificates of recognition from the Student Success Coach Office at Rutgers University-Camden. In the summer of 2021, I received an Undergraduate Apprenticeship Scholarship from the Army Educational Outreach Program, allowing me to advance my knowledge in STEM and actively participate in research. In my graduate school journey, I earned distinction for my thesis project.

Present and Future Plans

My long-term goal is to become a transplant pharmacist with active involvement in clinical research. Starting in the fall of 2024, I will be pursuing my Pharmacy School education at Thomas Jefferson University, College of Pharmacy. Throughout my graduate studies at Rutgers University-Camden, I advanced my knowledge, specialized skills, and practical experience, preparing myself to excel in this dynamic field. The skills cultivated during my thesis research have proven instrumental in my professional pursuits. Through the intensive research process, I honed my ability to conduct thorough literature reviews, design and execute experiments, analyze complex data sets, and draw meaningful conclusions. These skills are invaluable in the dynamic field of clinical research, where a multifaceted approach is often required to address complex challenges. Currently, I work at the transplant laboratory at Penn Medicine, applying the laboratory skills developed during my thesis research. The hands-on experience gained through my master’s program has provided me with a solid foundation to conduct complex tests in my current role.  

Favorite Quote

Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.

Mother Theresa

Geetanjali Kaza, Data Science MS Student

Geetanjali Kaza, originally from Andhra Pradesh, India is a graduate student of Data Science. Having obtained a bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering and gained some years of work experience, her passion for exploring innovative approaches to extract meaningful insights from large-scale healthcare datasets led her to pursue a graduate degree at Rutgers University-Camden.

Academic/ Work Journey

I completed my bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering, where I cultivated a solid foundation in programming, algorithms, and system design. Eager to apply my skills in a professional setting, I joined Cognizant, a global IT services company, where I played a pivotal role in developing software solutions for clients, honing my expertise in software development and project management.

Subsequently, I ventured into the healthcare sector, joining Anthem, a leading health insurance company. In this role, I applied my technical acumen to enhance software supporting healthcare operations. The dynamic nature of the healthcare industry presented new challenges, and I thrived on finding innovative solutions to address complex problems.

Driven by a desire to delve into the financial technology domain, I transitioned to a challenging role at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Working at NYSE provided me with a unique opportunity to contribute to the development and maintenance of critical systems that underpin the global financial markets. The fast-paced environment and the significance of the work at NYSE broadened my technical skills and strategic thinking.

Throughout my academic and professional journey, I have continuously sought opportunities for growth, learning, and contributing to impactful projects. The diverse experiences in both technology and industry-specific domains have shaped me into a versatile professional with a passion for leveraging technology to solve real-world challenges.

Motivation for Choosing Your Program

I am doing my master’s in Data science at Rutgers University-Camden. In my previous professional experiences, I have consistently found myself grappling with vast datasets and the inherent challenges they present. The dynamic nature of working with substantial data sets not only fueled my fascination but also exposed me to the complexities of deriving meaningful insights from diverse and extensive information. These challenges, rather than deter me, motivated my decision to pursue a career in data science. The opportunity to systematically analyze and interpret large-scale data, employing advanced methodologies, has become not only a professional aspiration but also a personal passion. The profound impact that data-driven decision-making can have on shaping strategies and outcomes resonates with me, and it is this realization that has led me to embark on a journey in data science. I am enthusiastic about acquiring the necessary skills and knowledge to navigate the evolving landscape of data analytics, contributing meaningfully to solving intricate problems and making informed decisions. 

Research Interest

I am deeply passionate about health data analytics, and my research endeavors are focused on exploring innovative approaches to extract meaningful insights from large-scale healthcare datasets. In an era where the healthcare industry is generating vast amounts of data, ranging from electronic health records to genomic information, there exists an immense potential to harness this wealth of information for the betterment of patient care and overall healthcare policy. My goal is to contribute to the field by developing and implementing advanced analytics techniques that can uncover patterns, trends, and correlations within these complex datasets. By doing so, I aim to facilitate evidence-based decision-making in healthcare, empowering clinicians, policymakers, and healthcare administrators with the knowledge needed to enhance patient outcomes and optimize resource allocation. Moreover, I see my research to bridge the gap between data science and healthcare policy, fostering a symbiotic relationship that ensures data-driven strategies are effectively integrated into the broader healthcare landscape. I aspire for my work to make a meaningful impact on the quality of healthcare delivery and contribute to the evolution of policies that shape the future of the healthcare industry. 

Goals for the Academic year

My primary goal for this academic year is to deepen my expertise in data science by delving into advanced topics such as machine learning algorithms, artificial intelligence, and data management. I aim to apply these concepts in practical settings through hands-on projects and real-world applications, gaining a more comprehensive understanding of how data science impacts various industries. 

Additionally, I am eager to enhance my collaborative and communication skills by actively participating in group projects, engaging in discussions, and contributing to research initiatives within the program. Effective teamwork is crucial in the field of data science, and I aim to develop the ability to work seamlessly with diverse teams to tackle complex challenges.

Furthermore, I plan to leverage networking opportunities provided by the program to connect with professionals and experts in the data science field. Attending workshops, seminars, and industry events will not only broaden my knowledge but also allow me to stay abreast of the latest trends and innovations in the industry.

Ultimately, I aspire to graduate with a well-rounded skill set that combines technical proficiency, practical experience, and effective collaboration, positioning myself for a successful and impactful career in the dynamic field of data science.

Favorite Quote

Life is very interesting. In the end, some of your greatest pains become your greatest strengths.

Drew Barrymore

Kyra Miller, Forensic Science M.S. & Graduate Assistant Alumna

In the final profile of 2023, we shine a light on Kyra Miller, a Graduate Assistant at the Graduate School. As Kyra concludes her journey with us, earning her MS in Forensic Science, we recognize how her involvement has been a remarkable asset to the Rutgers-Camden community. Kyra’s approach to every task — be it complex, large-scale, or urgent — has not only showcased her exceptional abilities but has also significantly enhanced the caliber of work within our community. Her contributions have gone beyond just academic excellence; they have set new benchmarks in professionalism and commitment, enriching the Rutgers-Camden experience for all. As she prepares to graduate, we not only celebrate her academic success but also deeply appreciate the lasting impact she has made on our institution. Kyra’s departure is not just a farewell to a valued colleague but an acknowledgment of the invaluable legacy she leaves behind at Rutgers-Camden.

Graduate Program Directors

Kyra has boundless energy and passion for forensic science.  She breathed life into our forensic Honors Society (DDE), she participates and leads public outreach efforts, and she is a tireless advocate for the Graduate School and the MSFS program.  While I will miss seeing her on a daily basis, I know that she will continue to be an active member of the MSFS alumni community and will continue to support our students.  She has so many talents and abilities and will be successful in all she undertakes!  Congratulations, Kyra, on starting  a new chapter of your story!

 -Kimberlee Sue Moran, Graduate Program Director, Forensic Science Program 

Kyra’s contributions to the Graduate School team have been exemplary, and the Department of Public Policy and Administration (DPPA) extends its sincere congratulations on her successful completion of the graduate degree this semester. Throughout her tenure, Kyra has demonstrated remarkable creativity and an unwavering work ethic that has been reflected in the quality of her work on every project. Her resourcefulness and willingness to offer and incorporate feedback have enabled her to develop innovative and effective solutions that have set her apart as a valuable member of the team. The DPPA is deeply appreciative of Kyra’s time with us and wishes her continued success in all her future endeavors.

-Angie McGuire, Graduate Program Director, Executive Public Administration Program 

Graduate School House

It is rare to work with someone who has such a vast skill set and deep commitment to our shared mission of making the Graduate School-Camden the best academic unit in the Rutgers system.  Kyra will do great things with her science training, and I look forward to her many future successes.  

-Michelle Meloy, Associate Dean for The Graduate School

It may seem like hyperbole, but Kyra Miller is undoubtedly one of the most talented and hardworking individuals I’ve had the honor to work with. As a strategic partner, Kyra skillfully transformed complex ideas into actionable plans, exemplifying her mastery of both thought and action. Her diverse skill set, acquired through relentless learning and leadership, is beyond comprehensive. While her departure is bittersweet, it is tempered by excitement for the extraordinary achievements that undoubtedly lie ahead in her journey. Kyra leaves behind a legacy of excellence and a path of inspiration for others to follow.

-Erick Watt-Udogu, Assistant Dean for The Graduate School

Beyond being an awesomely accomplished student and an industrious assistant for our office, Kyra is caring and personable. Kyra often checks in on me and my well-being because she has an intimate view of our days at the Graduate School.  Not only has she been concerned about serving our community at the highest level possible in her position, but she genuinely shows compassion and gives of herself unselfishly.  Sometimes in meetings or during stressful times, we were able to communicate non-verbally and understood each other.  I will miss Kyra surely, but I am so excited she will be able to do what she has been learning and training to do within her degree. Congratulations. Kyra, go forth and be great! 

Danielle Askew, Assistant Dean for The Graduate School

Kyra has been an excellent professional and strong advocate during her time with us at the Graduate School, both leading student groups and contributing tremendously to our recruitment and retention initiatives. We are sure that she will be missed among her peers and her colleagues here in the office. 

Chris Kubik Cedeño, Assistant Dean for The Graduate School

Kyra is a wonderful teammate and friend. I have enjoyed getting to know Kyra over the past year and look forward to her continued success as a forensic scientist. I am excited to see what this proud Raptor achieves in the future! Thank you Kyra!

Sarah Johnson, Senior Program Coordinator, STEM

Kyra has been an essential part of our team here at the Graduate School. During her time here, she has done a phenomenal job leading new projects and has always served as an advocate for her peers. While we will miss her, we wish her the best in this next stage of her career. I know her talents will make her a valuable addition anywhere that she goes.

-Kayla Allende, Administrative Assistant for The Graduate School

Josefina M. Ewins, MPA Alum & New Jersey Governor’s Fellow

Josefina M. Ewins, originally from Sicklerville, New Jersey is a graduate of the Masters of Public Administration (MPA) program. She is a New Jersey Governor’s Fellow, a former Bonner Civic Scholar, and TriO Scholar. Driven by a passion for understanding policies that impact students and their higher education, she works with the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education as a Policy Fellow, to improve the experience and outcomes for New Jersey students.

Program and Inspiration

My Family has a big interest in education. Being a first-generation college student and Panamanian American, we talked immensely about inequalities for individuals from all walks of life regarding education. Additionally, I was raised as always thinking of who and what supported me through my journey; it was imperative for these voices to be present for me throughout my higher education journey. When I started at Rutgers-Camden, I was a part of the Summer Bridge Program of 2018 and also a TRiO Scholar, which allowed me to figure out what my niche was, and I realized it was focusing on policies that impact students and their higher education. After COVID-19 and my senior year of undergrad, I realized that I wanted to assist in bettering our university students’ experiences on the Camden campus, which ultimately pushed me to figure out ways to assist within the policy realm on a larger scale regarding higher education. In my senior year, I was a part of the student government association as the executive senator for the campus, which allowed me to see how our institutional policies impact students, which made me want to do it on the state scale. I decided to do the Political Science BA/Master in Public Administration (MPA) accelerated program in my senior year to focus on policy and implementation in both nonprofit and public spheres. 

Academic/ Research Journey

I was able to be a part of the research process both in graduate school and undergrad. Thanks to the different programs, like the Bonner Civic Scholars Program, I was able to participate in the research development process. Being able to think in depth about how to conduct research in an equitable and understanding way for the surrounding community at Rutgers-Camden allowed me to think about how to bring all involved parties to the table. Once again, going back to the values instilled in me by my parents, thinking about the voices that are not always allowed within the room. In my year of graduate school in the MPA department, I was able to do research regarding Black women within the state legislature and how it impacts the world around us and benefits us by having more diversity within these political spaces. This research was crucial to me, as the discussion regarding the need for representation in all fields is so critical.

Fellowship Award

The New Jersey Governor’s Fellow position focuses on ushering in recent graduates into the New Jersey government sphere. Per the Governor’s website, the Fellowship is to bring in individuals who will specialize in different areas within different executive branch departments. I work with the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education as a Policy Fellow, where the department focuses on improving the experience and outcomes for New Jersey students. Being able to advocate for those who have been systemically underrepresented within politics and policy is vital to me, and I am delighted to bring an equitable lens within the higher education space.

Favorite Quote

I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.

Audre Lord

Shawn R. Jones, Award-Winning Creative Writing Alumnus

Shawn R. Jones, an alum of the MFA in Creative Writing program is a 2023 Civitella Ranieri Fellow, and her poetry collection, Date of Birth, has won the 2022 Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize in Poetry. Her work has appeared in Tri-Quarterly, New Ohio Review, Cider Review,Passengers Journal, Rattle, Essence, and elsewhere. 

Shawn is the co-owner of Tailored Tutoring LLC and Kumbaya Academy, Inc., a dance instructor at Halliday Dance, and a member of the Langston Hughes Society and the poetry performance troupe, No River Twice. 

Academic Journey

First, I completed my first year at Arcadia University. I took a few years off before deciding to return to school. Rutgers-Camden was blocks away from my home, so I enrolled in University College-Camden. In 2001, I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology degree. Several years later, I applied to the MFA program and graduated in 2019 with a degree of MFA in Creative Writing from Rutgers-Camden.

Inspiration Behind the Book

Mostly, I have been inspired by the women in my family. They witnessed and experienced so much trauma that the unspeakable had literally become the unspeakable. I did not know much family history because my maternal grandmother was murdered when I was three. When I asked my great aunt about their childhood, she said, “It is too horrible to even think about.” 
 
At that moment, I thought, I was carrying generations of familial trauma, and I did not know what the details were. It is difficult to explain, but my siblings and I could feel the weight of it. I decided to talk to my grandmother’s youngest sister. She told me she had drafted a book about her family when she was younger, but her husband threw her 400-page manuscript in the trash. It was at that moment that I decided that I was not going to whisper about incest, abuse, racism, neglect, or love. I mean, honestly, for some of my family members, beautiful, consensual, adult love was not up for discussion either because it involved touch, and touch was taboo. I decided I was not going to be scared into silence. With the blessings of my family, Date of Birth was born. 

Favorite Memories of Rutgers Camden

Patrick Rosal and Gregory Pardlo were both supportive and encouraging. Whenever I suffered from imposter syndrome, Patrick would remind me that my voice had value.  Gregory, my thesis advisor, was a great listener. He taught me to examine my intention for using particular words and phrases in my work. I put his advice into practice, and it made me a better poet. They also wrote blurbs for my book. For that, I am eternally grateful.

Present or Next Career Steps

I have had a couple of dozen readings over the past year, and I have several readings and workshops scheduled for 2024. I also started a creative writing workshop for students at my center. They continually amaze me with their stories, and working with them also reminds me of why I must continue to listen, write, and teach. My collection can be purchased at your favorite bookstore or online at  Pearson Books

Dr. Kristin August, Prevention Science Graduate Director

Kristin August, PhD is the Founding Graduate Program Director of the Prevention Science program, she is also an Associate Professor in the Departments of Psychology and Health Sciences. A seasoned researcher who investigates connections between social relationship processes and health, she is also committed to fostering interdisciplinary collaboration in prevention science at Rutgers-Camden.

Role

I am currently an Associate Professor in the Departments of Psychology and Health Sciences and Founding Graduate Director of the new graduate program in Prevention Science.  As the Founding Director, I helped establish the fourth Ph.D. program on our campus. I oversee curriculum development, admissions, and scheduling workshops and events for students and faculty, and I also coordinate diversity cluster searches in prevention science/health equity.

Academic Journey

I received my B.S. in Psychology from Michigan State University.  I started as a biology major on the pre-medical track as an undergraduate first-generation college student. While my initial inclination was towards medicine, my academic trajectory shifted towards psychology, sparked by a captivating array of coursework. The pivotal moment came when I discovered my true passion after taking a health psychology course, which perfectly marries the fields of psychology and medicine. After taking three years off working in a variety of research and health-related settings, I moved to California to pursue my Ph.D. in Psychology and Social Behavior from the University of California, Irvine (major specialization: Health Psychology; minor specialization: Quantitative Methods). I returned to my medical roots by completing my post-doctoral training at the Health Policy Research Institute in the School of Medicine at the University of California, Irvine.  I then moved across country again to join the Psychology Department at Rutgers University, Camden in 2011 and became a core faculty member of the Health Sciences Department (formerly center) in 2014.  I am the Founding Director of the Graduate Program in Prevention Science (established in 2022).

Research Experience

My research investigates connections between social relationship processes and health, and more broadly, the interplay between psychological and physical health (e.g., topics such as body image and stress). What sets me apart from other scholars in this area is my emphasis on health in diverse populations across the adult lifespan. I have published over 50 articles and book chapters in these areas. I am committed to not only gaining a better understanding of how and why social relationships are associated with health, but also to designing and implementing culturally appropriate interventions that promote the physical, mental, and social health of individuals and their families. I recently completed two interventions – a family coaching intervention with people with type 2 diabetes and a virtual nutrition, stress reduction, and social interaction intervention with adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDDs). Given the high prevalence of diabetes in Hispanic populations, the intervention for patients with diabetes is currently being translated and culturally adapted for Spanish-speaking individuals.

Plan for the Program

The Prevention Science graduate program at Rutgers University-Camden distinguishes itself as one of the few prevention science programs in the country. We hope to see our program grow to become a nationally recognized hub for the advancement of prevention science.  With a commitment to fostering interdisciplinary collaboration, we aim to attract a diverse cohort of talented students and esteemed scholars in prevention science.  We will continue to equip our graduates with robust methodological and statistical skills and cultivate practical research expertise, ensuring that our students are well-prepared to navigate the complexities of developing, implementing, and evaluating evidence-based prevention strategies. Looking ahead, we envision our graduates as catalysts for position change in communities across the nation to address pressing academic, health, and social challenges. Our program will continue to forge partnerships with local communities, governmental agencies, and non-profit organizations, creating opportunities for our students to apply their knowledge in real-world settings. Through these collaborations, we aim to not only contribute to the advancement of prevention science but also to make tangible, lasting contributions to the well-being of society.

Favorite Quote

Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.

Pele

Jigna Rao, EMPA Alum & CEO, Millhill Child & Family Devt

Jigna Rao, an alum of the Executive Master of Public Administration program has been appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of the Millhill Child and Family Development, where she will continue to create a lasting positive change with a ‘Focus on Educating Youth, Supporting Families and Building Partnerships’

Academic Journey

About two decades ago, fresh-faced newlywed Rao moved from her lifelong homeland of South India to join her husband in New Jersey, eager to embark on the greatest adventure of all. Over the years, she went on to obtain a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from The College of New Jersey with a minor in public health. Rao now holds a master’s degree in public administration from Rutgers University- Camden.

Awards and Recognition

Jigna has received multiple recognitions for her community and professional involvement and for her advocacy work supporting minority health equity. Rao is the recipient of the Charles DeGraw Award for Tuberculosis Advocacy from the National Tuberculosis Controllers Association, the Women of Achievement Award from the Women in Business Alliance, Princeton Mercer Regional Chamber, and the Tribute to Women Award from the Princeton YWCA.

Career Journey

Prior to joining Millhill, Rao headed the Center for Continuing Education at Mercer County Community College and served as the Director of Drumthwacket, the New Jersey Governor’s Official Residence during the Corzine administration where she led operational management, and special initiatives to deepen community relationships. Having served as Millhill’s Director of Operations since 2021, in her new position as the CEO at Millhill she continues to create a lasting positive change with a ‘Focus on Educating Youth, Supporting Families and Building Partnerships’.

Plans

In her new role, Rao said she will continue to build upon the legacy of educating children, empowering youth, and supporting families, guided by the organization’s core values, and vision of building a thriving community where everyone has access to limitless possibilities.

Rebecca Mezei, Graduate School Ambassador & Law Student

Rebecca Mezei, a second-year student at Rutgers Law School with a passion for environmental law and hailing from Philadelphia, is an inaugural Graduate School Ambassador. Over the past year, she has made a lasting impact on the Rutgers-Camden Graduate School community. Her contributions have shaped the Ambassador program, notably through her initiatives in launching important social media platforms and spearheading the creation of a community garden. Her diverse perspective, enriched by her law studies, uniquely contributes to her involvement and commitment to enhancing the graduate school experience.

Academic Journey

Before law school, I got a B.S. in Marine Science and a B.A. in environmental global studies from the University of Delaware. After I graduated, I started at Rutgers Law School-Camden in 2022 and became involved as a staff editor of Rutgers Law Review, as vice president of the Environmental Law Society, and as a graduate school ambassador at the Graduate School. In my role as the graduate ambassador, I have helped build community between graduate students by leveraging Facebook Group discussions, have helped to connect with many students, faculty, and alumni to publicize their experiences and achievements at Rutgers-Camden, and have initiated a community garden at the Graduate School.

School Experience

Law school has given me the opportunity to do summer internships and semester externships to get exposed to working in the Law. This past summer, I worked as a legal intern at the Pinelands Preservation Alliance, doing environmental justice work. I look forward to being able to get more experience in the remaining year and a half I have at Rutgers Law.

Goals for the Academic Year

Firstly, I want to do well in my classes and also to write a good note for Rutgers Law Review as a staff editor I desire to help further the community of the Graduate School with more outreach and student engagement. I also want to continue expanding and growing (pun intended), the community garden.

Favorite Quote

Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.

Suzy Kassem

Dr. Próspero García, Teaching Spanish Graduate Program Director

Próspero N. García, Ph.D. is the Graduate Program Director of the Master of Arts in Teaching Spanish program. Originally from Asturias, a small region in the North of Spain, he is now committed to supporting the Rutgers-Camden community, helping and mentoring in-service and pre-service teachers of Spanish as they work towards a graduate degree and a teacher certification.

Academic Journey

After completing my B.A. at the University of Oviedo, in Spain, I moved to the United States in 2003 to continue my academic journey in Spanish Applied Linguistics and Language Program Direction at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where I obtained my M.A. and Ph.D. 

From my undergraduate days, my biggest passions were learning, teaching, and helping others. I was lucky to hone in on the first two at Smith College and Amherst College, where I had my first faculty appointments. But when I was offered the opportunity to come to Rutgers-Camden back in 2012, I didn’t hesitate. This was my dream job. I would be able to design the whole curriculum for a new Master of Arts in Teaching Spanish, helping the community and mentoring in-service and pre-service teachers of Spanish as they worked towards a graduate degree and a teacher certification. This was all I have ever wanted, that’s why I had invested so many years towards a Ph.D. in Spanish Applied Linguistics and Pedagogy, to support the community and help others become the best possible educators. My happiest moment is when I walk into a class at Rutgers-Camden, and when I see that, what we do here is helping our present students and future colleagues to grow into fantastic educators and their possible selves.

Role

As Graduate Program Director at the Spanish MAT at Rutgers-Camden, I devote most of my time to working with prospective students and mentoring current students and alumni in research, teaching, and advocacy. I really enjoy working on action research projects with the teachers in our program and bringing cutting-edge pedagogical innovations to their schools, as well as to our Spanish language program at Rutgers-Camden. Something that I am also very proud of is the creation of the Rutgers-Camden Spanish MAT series in applied linguistics, which has allowed us to bring to campus some of the foremost researchers in the fields of applied linguistics and language development and provide our students and alumni with invaluable professional development and networking opportunities.

Award and Achievements

As an applied linguist, I am interested in second language (L2) development, L2 evaluation and assessment, technology-enhanced language learning, teacher training, and bilingual education from a Neo-Vygotskian sociocultural theory of mind perspective. My most recent work has explored the role of Sociocultural Theory in Spanish L2 education, the implementation of Dynamic Assessment to promote L2 teacher’s conceptual development, the role of Conscious Conceptual Manipulation in the development of grammatical categories, the implementation of concept-based instruction (CBI) in the heritage and second language classrooms, and the role of emotion and agency in the development and internalization of scientific concepts. Currently, I am exploring the role of conscious conceptual manipulation in the teaching and learning of conceptual categories in virtual environment, the implementation of a Dynamic Assessment approach as a tool to foster L2 learning and development in secondary education, and the role of CBI in the grammatical and pedagogical development of K-12 native and heritage educators.

Plan for the Program

Our MAT in Spanish at Rutgers-Camden is one of the few MAT programs in the country that offers content credits in Spanish as well as the possibility of obtaining a teacher license upon completion of the program thanks to our collaboration with the department of Education at Rutgers-Camden. This allows us to work with already certified teachers looking for content credits in Spanish as well as with prospective teachers looking for a certification. Looking into the future, we are planning on continuing this interdisciplinary work by offering a new ESL/Bilingual endorsement stand-alone program and becoming Alternative Route Providers. We look forward to continuing to develop our student’s involvement in research, solidifying our relationship with the districts and professional organizations in the area by providing professional development opportunities to teachers across New Jersey, and continue helping certified and prospective Spanish and ESL teachers become the best possible versions of themselves.

Favorite Quote

Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.

Mark Twain

Urvi Patel, Public Affairs / Comm. Development Alumna

Urvi Patel, originally from Woodbridge, Virginia, and a recent alumna of Rutgers-Camden with a Master’s degree in Public Affairs and Community Development, is passionate about driving sustainable change in communities. She is currently employed as a Policy Analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, D.C. This nonpartisan research and policy institute focuses on advancing federal and state policies aimed at creating an inclusive society. For an insight into her work, particularly on income security, you can read an article she co-authored titled “Research Reinforces: Providing Cash to Families in Poverty Reduces Risk of Family Involvement in Child Welfare.”

Academic Journey

In 2016, I graduated from James Madison University with a B.S. in Writing, Rhetoric, and Technical Communication with minors in Humanitarian Affairs and Nonprofit Studies. I spent several years working at community-based organizations in the fields of child welfare, mental health, youth development, and poverty alleviation. This included a term as an AmeriCorps VISTA and with the U.S. Peace Corps in Tonga. When I returned to the U.S. after completing my Peace Corps service, I continued to work in the nonprofit sector during the pandemic, but soon decided to pursue graduate school. I completed my M.S. in Public Affairs and Community Development from Rutgers-Camden in 2023.

Inspiration for Choosing the Program

My decision to choose the Public Affairs and Community Development graduate program was inspired by my past experiences working locally within communities. Through feelings of burnout, I realized that community nonprofits address the social issues that plague our most marginalized communities through much needed, but short-term answers. In order to make a more sustainable impact, I decided to pursue a program that would provide me with the skills and knowledge to enter the social policy field and approach my work with an equity and justice lens.

Post Graduation Plans

Upon graduation, I now work as a Policy Analyst on the Housing and Income Security team at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a research and policy institute that promotes federal and state policies to help build a more equitable nation. On the Housing and Income Security team, I am currently working on building out the organization’s state housing policy work.

Favorite Quote

But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Maya Angelou

Felix Abusah, MPA Graduate Student

Felix Abusah, a graduate student of the Master’s in Public Administration program at Rutgers-Camden was ignited by a passion for effective communication and multicultural understanding. Adapting as an international student in a different cultural and academic environment, he aspires to pursue a Ph.D., aiming to bridge theory and practice in public administration for societal impact.

Academic Journey

My journey started with an undergraduate degree in public relations from the Ghana Institute of Journalism. In 2019, after completing my degree, I had the opportunity to work with several multinational companies in Ghana. This experience in a multicultural environment was pivotal, helping me realize the importance of understanding different communication styles and cultural nuances.

Motivations for Choosing Public Administration

My decision to study public administration was influenced by my work experience. The need for effective communication and understanding of multicultural environments in these multinational companies led me to pursue this field. I realized how significant governance and public policy are in societal development. I saw public administration as a way to bridge the gap between different cultures and enhance communication, which is vital in governance and public relations.

Rutgers-Camden Experience

My experience at Rutgers-Camden has been beyond my expectations. The professors are well-prepared, and the resources are vast. The small class sizes are conducive to deeper learning and understanding. But more importantly, it’s the diverse and supportive community at Rutgers-Camden that stands out. It feels like a family here, where everyone is encouraged to be their best and respected for their unique backgrounds.

Adapting as an International Student

Adjusting to life in the United States as an international student brought its own set of challenges and learnings. The cultural and academic environment here was quite different from Ghana. I had to learn and adapt to various communication styles and professional settings. This was both challenging and rewarding, as it was crucial for effective communication and collaboration in this new, diverse setting.

Post-Graduation Plans

Looking forward, my time at Rutgers-Camden has inspired me to consider pursuing a Ph.D. The diverse academic environment and the respect and acceptance I’ve received have been motivating. The practical knowledge and networking opportunities gained here are crucial for my future. I aim to apply what I’ve learned in public administration to bridge the gap between theory and practice, contributing meaningfully to society.

Mary Anna Evans, Creative Writing Alumnus

Mary Anna Evans leveraged the Rutgers-Camden Creative Writing M.F.A. program to transition from a career in engineering. She currently serves as an Associate Professor of Professional Writing at the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Oklahoma. In her recently released novels, “The Traitor Beside Her” and “The Physicists’ Daughter,” Evans introduces readers to the protagonist, Justine Byrne, a character born from Evans’ integration of her scientific background into her narrative. Evans’ books and other writings are available in bookstores, libraries, online retailers, and on her website, The Justine Byrne Series.

Academic Journey

I came to creative writing as a second career. I have a Bachelor of Science in engineering physics and a Master of Science in chemical engineering. After earning my M.S., I taught math and science at a community college, later working as a consultant for an environmental engineering firm. In my spare time, I wrote poetry and short stories and, eventually, a novel called ‘Artifacts’ that was published in 2003. It began a series of crime novels featuring archaeologist Faye Longchamp. I had published seven novels in that series when I decided that I wanted to formally study this thing that I’d taught myself to do, so I returned to graduate school to study literary fiction and nonfiction at Rutgers-Camden.

My time at Rutgers-Camden was a wonderful experience in every way, and I learned a great deal about writing and literature. When I turned in my next book, my editor said, “You’ve really kicked it up a notch,” and that’s exactly what I’d hoped to do when I decided to spend two years deeply studying the art and craft of writing. In the last semester of my MFA, I wrote an article about Camden and its history for The Atlantic’s Technology Channel, which was a lovely way to say goodbye to a place that had become very special to me.

When I graduated, I took a job as an assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma, where I’ve been teaching writers since 2015, earning tenure in 2021. In the years since I graduated, I published six more books in my archaeological series, which won recognition like the Will Rogers Medallion Award Gold Medal and the Oklahoma Book Award, as well as many short stories and essays. In 2019, though, I decided it was time for something new, so I wrote a historical novel set during WWII called The Physicists’ Daughter that I pitched as Bletchley Park-meets-Rosie-the-Riveter. It won my second Oklahoma Book Award, and The Traitor Beside Her follows its protagonist, physicist Justine Byrne, as she works undercover as a codebreaker. It was released in June to a wonderful reception that included a review in the Washington Post.

During my time at the University of Oklahoma, I became interested in academic scholarship on the work of Agatha Christie, particularly in the portrayal of women and justice in the twentieth century. This work resulted in an invitation to serve as senior editor of the Bloomsbury Handbook to Agatha Christie, which was received well by the crime fiction community, being short-listed for the Edgar, Agatha, HRF Keating, and Macavity Awards.

Favorite Memories of Rutgers-Camden Experience

I lived in an apartment on the top floor of The Victor with a stupendous view of Philadelphia and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. From there, I could walk to class and to the classes I was teaching. The River Line and the subway took me to New York and to Philadelphia and beyond, and this was a dream for a lifelong suburbanite. As an engineer, I found the historic homes and factory buildings around the university to be fascinating. My classes, too, were fascinating. My professors were kind and devoted to helping us improve our work, and my classmates were fun and talented. I wouldn’t trade my time in Camden for anything.

Inspiration Behind the Book

The protagonist of The Traitor Beside Her and The Physicists’ Daughter, Justine Byrne, was a character I had lived my whole life to write. I was able to give her my interest in science by giving her parents who were both physicists, a rare thing in 1944. In addition to her father, Gerard, there are actually two female physicists in Justine’s life, her mother Isabel and her godmother Gloria, and they taught Justine things that made her something of a secret weapon during a world war. Nobody would have expected a young woman of her day to be able to go to her factory job, look around, and think, “My boss is lying to me about what I’m making. Also, somebody’s trying to sabotage our work.” Justine’s skills save the secret military project she’s working on in The Physicists’ Daughter, and they get her a chance to go undercover in The Traitor Beside Her to root out a spy intent on learning the Allies’ military secrets.

Present or Next Career Steps

I’m working on a standalone Gothic novel set in the Hudson River Valley in 1942, featuring a young female English professor who is learning that her charming, erudite parents were lying about pretty much everything. I’m also working on an academic book called Witness to the Evolution: Agatha Christie, Women, Justice, and the Twentieth Century.

Dr. Charlotte Markey, Chair of the Health Sciences Department

Dr. Markey is a strong pillar of the Rutgers-Camden community. She is the Chair of the Health Sciences department, a seasoned researcher, and a mentor to graduate and undergraduate students.

Academic Journey

Originally from San Mateo, California, I went to college in Santa Clara, CA, and had graduate studies in Riverside, CA. From my undergraduate days, I have actively researched social influences on body image, eating behaviors, and eating disorders. Since 2002, she has lived in Philadelphia, and for the last 16 years in Swarthmore, Philadelphia.

Role

Since 2002, I’ve been a member of the Psychology Sciences Department.  Since 2013, I’ve been a core faculty member of the health sciences program (now the department) and for most of that time the director/ chair of the program.  Since 2002, I’ve been a core faculty member of the new Prevention Science Graduate program.

I also have an active research program that focuses on social influences on body image, eating behaviors, and eating disorders. I also have written books about body image and other health issues. I mentor undergraduate and graduate students.

I also volunteer for ANAD (Association for Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders) and offer psychoeducational presentations and webinars to help people better understand the issues I study.

I write for Psychology Today.

Research Journey

I did my first study examining eating attitudes as an undergraduate in 1996 and haven’t stopped since.  Most of my research focuses on eating behaviors and body image and I’ve always had a special interest in adolescents.  Some of my most recent articles have examined how social media may impact body image and how eating styles may differ among young adults around the world.

I am also author of “The Body Image Book” series; the first two books can be found here and here.  

The third book will be out this spring (Adultish:  The Body Image Book for Life).  A 2nd edition of the girls’ book will be published in late 2025 or early 2026 and other books are being discussed as well.

Plans

The Health Sciences undergraduate department and Prevention Science MA and Doctoral programs have both grown beyond expectation in recent years.

My colleagues and I hope to continue to serve our students so that they can contribute to academic and applied efforts to improve health and wellness, especially among underserved populations.

Favorite Quote:

Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.

William James

Isaac Blum, Award-Winning Creative Writing Alumnus

Isaac Blum, a Rutgers-Camden MFA in Creative Writing alumnus, has earned significant recognition with his novel, “The Life and Times of Hoodie Rosen,” longlisted for the National Book Award and a William C. Morris Award winner. The narrative unfolds the life of Hoodie Rosen, whose Orthodox Jewish community faces hostility upon moving to Tregaron, a mostly non-Jewish town. Hoodie’s life takes a dramatic turn when he falls for Anna-Marie Diaz-O’Leary, the daughter of the town’s resistant mayor. As antisemitic tensions escalate into violence, Hoodie is caught between love and loyalty, navigating a world rife with hatred, betrayal, and unexpected friendships. Isaac Blum crafts a poignant tale, highlighting the challenges of identity and belonging in a divided society. “The Life and Times of Hoodie Rosen” is available in both paperback and hardcover formats at various book retailers as well as Amazon.

Academic Journey

My academic journey began at Tufts University in Massachusetts, where I earned a bachelor’s degree in English. During my time there, I had the opportunity to work on a creative writing senior thesis, which I found immensely fulfilling. This experience led me to pursue an MFA in creative writing, and Rutgers-Camden became the obvious choice due to its excellent program, dedicated faculty, and convenient location.

At Rutgers-Camden, I engaged in workshop classes that allowed me to refine my writing skills alongside a group of talented and insightful peers. The collaborative spirit within the program was a significant highlight for me, as we all worked together to improve each other’s craft. This sense of community fostered during my time at Rutgers-Camden remains strong, with lasting friendships formed more than a decade later.

In addition to the creative aspects, the program provided valuable professional insights by inviting accomplished authors and literary agents to discuss the business side of the writing world. This connection between the academic and professional aspects of writing was invaluable in helping me progress toward publishing my work. During my time in the program, I wrote my first novel, and I have continued to write since then. My sixth novel, published in the fall of 2022, even made it to the longlist for the National Book Award.

Favorite Memories of Rutgers-Camden Experience

My most cherished memories of my time at Rutgers-Camden revolve around the incredible support I received from the faculty. Professors like Lauren Grodstein, Paul Lisicky, and Lisa Zeidner went above and beyond to offer encouragement when I felt discouraged about my work. They also took the time to guide me outside of class, helping me assemble applications for residencies and fellowships. Writing can often be a solitary endeavor, and having the Rutgers-Camden faculty in my corner made a world of difference.

Inspiration Behind the Book

My young adult novel revolves around Yehuda “Hoodie” Rosen and his Orthodox Jewish community’s struggles in a new town, where they face resistance from the established non-Jewish residents. To complicate matters further, Hoodie falls in love with the mayor’s daughter, a situation made even more challenging when the town experiences a series of antisemitic crimes. Hoodie is forced to make a choice between his first love and the only world he has ever known.

The inspiration for this story traces back to a tragic event: a shooting at a kosher supermarket in Jersey City, New Jersey, on December 10, 2019. While my novel is not a direct retelling of that event, it draws elements from the real-life incident. This particular incident, among several other violent attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions, deeply moved me. Within a week of the shooting, I began outlining my novel, weaving together a tale of an Orthodox Jewish teenager caught in the midst of violent antisemitism, alongside the typical challenges of adolescence, such as identity crises and first love.

Present or Next Career Steps

I’m excited to share that my second young adult novel is set to be released in the fall of 2024, courtesy of Philomel Books and Penguin Teen, titled “The Judgment of Yoyo Gold,” this novel explores the journey of a Jewish teen girl navigating a crisis of faith.

Ashley Scavuzzo, Award-Winning Chemistry Student

Ashley Scavuzzo is a graduate student in the Chemistry M.S. Program, a participant in the accelerated credits program, and a recipient of the Graduate Fellowship from the New Jersey Space Grant Consortium (NJSPC).

Academic Journey

I completed my Bachelor of Chemistry degree at Rutgers-Camden in 2022 with a minor in mathematics. In the Fall of 2021, I was accepted into Rutgers B.S./M.S. accelerated degree program and expected to graduate with my Master’s degree in Chemistry in 2024 after defending my thesis.

Could you share some details about your award?

I received the Graduate Fellowship from the New Jersey Space Grant Consortium (NJSPC) for the Fall 2022 and Spring 2023 semesters. This generous scholarship supported my efforts to complete my master’s project. The project involved characterizing the pigments and binders used in a painting titled “Haiku” by Ben Wilson. Thanks to the stipend, I was able to dedicate more time to my project without the added stress of finances for other responsibilities, such as rent and groceries. This scholarship has had a profound, positive impact on my education.

What are some highlights from your experience at Rutgers-Camden?

Research has been a huge part of my education at Rutgers-Camden. I had the opportunity to work with conservation scientists Dr. Kate Duffy and Dr. Natalia Macro at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA), analyzing study objects. In addition, I am collaborating with Jake Foster, the Gallery and Public Programs Coordinator at the Rutgers-Camden Center for the Arts (RCCA), to analyze a painting from the Rutgers Camden Collection of Art for my Master’s degree project. The research opportunities I have had at Rutgers-Camden are unforgettable and will have a great impact on my future endeavors.

What are your future career plans?

I will be completing my graduate degree soon, while also starting to look at career opportunities in fields including renewable energy and chemical safety. I look forward to utilizing my degree from Rutgers-Camden to pursue a career that I find both challenging and rewarding.

Martin Wiley, Creative Writing Alumnus

Martin Wiley is an alumnus of the Rutgers-Camden Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing program. He is currently the Coordinator of the Writing Center at Arcadia University and resides in Philadelphia with his wife and two children. His new book, “When Did We Stop Being Cute?”, has been described as “bold and brazen, rhythmic, musical, and at times nostalgic.” The book is available through Cavankerry Press, on Amazon, and at local bookstores. For more information and for readings/bookings, please visit his website at martinwiley.com.

Academic Journey

I received my MFA in Creative Writing from Rutgers-Camden where I was a Rutgers University Fellow.  I started college as an artist at Mason Gross School of the Arts at the Rutgers New Brunswick campus but found that I did not actually want to be an artist.  After leaving college, I worked as an activist and community organizer, before receiving my BA from Goddard College in Vermont.  I went on to get my MFA from Rutgers-Camden.

Why did you choose Rutgers-Camden?

I chose Rutgers-Camden for my MFA because it was the only school I saw that required students to take classes outside of their main genre; poets had to take fiction, fiction writers took nonfiction, etc.  I have always enjoyed writing different things in different ways, seeing a memoir piece through a poetic lens, or attempting to bring a playwright’s use of dialogue into a short story.

How has Rutgers-Camden supported your career?

When I was at Rutgers-Camden, the MFA program did not have a call on playwriting.  Since I wanted to work on writing plays, I was able to connect with the head of the theatre department and develop an independent study, and I will always be grateful for how easy the school made that process.

One thing that stood out was my internship at The New Yorker magazine, which was arranged by the school. To be in that space and rub shoulders with some legendary writers—meeting Ishmael Reed in the hallway and asking him about his novel “Mumbo Jumbo,” being taken out to lunch by John Lahr to talk about theatre, etc.—changed me forever as a writer and as a person, and I owe that to Rutgers-Camden.

Tell us about your book.

My new book, “When Did We Stop Being Cute?”, is a “novel in poetic form,” meaning that it is a poetry collection where each poem is part of a larger story. It is based on my experiences growing up as a mixed-race kid in the New Jersey suburbs in the ’80s and is heavily influenced by the music of the time; each poem’s title is a lyric taken from a song I listened to then. Some of these songs are classics, while others are definitely of their time.

More than anything, the book provides a look at what it’s like trying to become a man in a place where Black men are viewed as dangerous. There, I had to grapple with the sudden shift from being seen as a cute kid to being perceived as a threat.

Dr. Jinglin Fu, Associate Professor of Biochemistry

Dr. Jinglin Fu is an Associate Professor of Biochemistry, and is associated with the Center for Computational and Integrative Biology (CCIB).

Academic Journey

Dr. Jinglin Fu earned his Ph.D. in Chemistry from Arizona State University. He then joined Rutgers University-Camden as an Assistant Professor in Biochemistry in 2013. In 2019, he was promoted and has since held the position of Tenured Associate Professor in Biochemistry.

Teaching and Service at Rutgers

At Rutgers, Dr. Fu teaches Biochemistry through both lectures and labs. He also mentors undergraduate and graduate students in their Biotechnology and Nanotechnology research projects. Additionally, he serves in various administrative and committee roles within the Chemistry program.

Research Focus and Affiliations

Dr. Fu is affiliated with the Center for Computational and Integrative Biology. He heads a research group that delves into biomimetic assembly and nanosystems. Their areas of interest include bionanomaterials fabrication, biocatalysis, smart diagnosis, and nanomedicine. Among his notable works is the article “Biomimetic assembly of multienzyme reactions on DNA nanostructures,” which was featured in Research Outreach in 2019.

Awards and Recognitions

Throughout his career, Dr. Fu has received several accolades. These include the Cottrell College Science Award, the Army Research Office Young Investigator award, and the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers. Furthermore, in 2020, he earned the Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Research and Creative Activity.

Somya Patro, Biology Alumna

Somya Patro, a proud alumnus of the Rutgers University-Camden Biology M.S. program, received the Graduate School Academic Achievement Award from the Rutgers University-Camden Alumni Association in May. This accolade recognized her significant contributions to the program. Following a delightful post-graduation celebration in Miami with her family, Somya is now on her next adventure as a lab manager at the University of Southern California.

Academic Journey

My academic journey began at the University of California, Riverside, where I majored in biology. My passion for research took root in a fetal lab in Singapore, and it was this enthusiasm for genetics that led me to Rutgers-Camden.

What about your work at Rutgers, Camden, were you most proud of and excited about

During my time in Dr. Lee’s laboratory, I delved into the research titled “Characterizing the Genetic and Molecular Mechanisms of GlcAT-P in Circadian and Photoperiodic Regulation in Drosophila melanogaster.” My focus was on the role of a single gene in the circadian rhythm.

My experience at Rutgers-Camden was invaluable. I learned pretty much everything here because when I was working at the lab in Singapore, there were numerous restrictions due to the onset of COVID-19, particularly with handling blood samples as a student. Over here, it was a hands-on journey, demanding a great deal of self-initiative. I believe I’ve achieved the pinnacle of independence in my life thus far, thanks to Rutgers-Camden.

How did you discover your research path?

I admit, I honestly didn’t even know which direction in research I could pursue… However, upon my arrival, I could chalk out a definitive plan. Currently, I relish working with Drosophila melanogaster; prior to this program, I wouldn’t even contemplate working with flies.

What did you love about your experience as a Teaching Assistant?

Beyond my research, I also had the wonderful opportunity to be a teaching assistant. This experience enriched my learning journey profoundly. It was a weekly highlight for me, facilitating personal growth while interacting with new students. Introducing them to experiments reminiscent of my undergraduate days was immensely gratifying.

What will you miss most about Rutgers, Camden Graduate School, and its community?

Looking back at my time at Rutgers-Camden, the deeper my immersion, the clearer the understanding, and the heightened the exhilaration. As the quality of the data improved, my enthusiasm to gather even better data grew. My journey was progressively enriching, and I wouldn’t trade these past two and a half years for anything. It was a period I hold dear.

I’m deeply grateful for the mentorship of Dr. Lee and Dr. Yakoby, and I’d like to express my thanks to Cody Stephens, Christopher Sottolano, and Heather Stotts from the lab. Notably, I want to commend Cody Stephens for meticulously guiding me through the entire crisper process step by step and dedicating four months to teach me the nuances of gene editing.

Sarah Johnson, Senior Program Coordinator & Biology Alumna

Sarah Johnson, Senior Program Coordinator for the Center for Computational and Integrative Biology (CCIB), and the Graduate School.

Academic Journey

 My journey began with the attainment of an M.S. in Biology in 2013, with a focus on soil ecology and nutrient cycling. After gaining experience in environmental research in the Pinelands and Delaware Bay, I joined Rutgers-Camden in 2019, managing the Biology department teaching labs. In December 2022, I joined CCIB and the Graduate School as the Senior Program Coordinator for Science Technology Engineering, and Math (STEM) programs.

Role

I currently serve as the Senior Program Coordinator for the Center for Computational and Integrative Biology and The Graduate School at Rutgers-Camden. My primary responsibility is to assist students in STEM programs, ensuring they navigate graduate school successfully. I enjoy this role because it allows me to interact with STEM graduate students daily, helping to bring different programming and workshops to the Camden campus. I also get to enjoy working with faculty in some of the newer graduate programs such as Data Science which has been a rewarding experience to help bring the first cohort of the program to the campus.

Plans

I’m also the program coordinator for the NSF Research Training grant, ‘Codes for Life,’ which was awarded to CCIB Director Grace Brannigan. In this role, I am dedicated to supporting the Codes for Life program.

Favorite Quote

Preserve and cherish this pale blue dot, the only home we have ever known.

Carl Sagan

Theresa Williams, Criminal Justice Alumna

Theresa Williams, a Cincinnati native and recent graduate of the Criminal Justice M.A. program at Rutgers-Camden, has a background in psychology and criminal justice from her time at Dallas Baptist University. She currently serves as a Texas State Parole Officer, where her education from Rutgers has prepared her for a successful career in the field.

Academic Journey

My decision to pursue graduate studies in criminal justice was prompted by the global challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. This period made me reassess my career choices, ultimately steering me toward my original passion for criminal justice. Prior to my graduate studies, I was a small business owner, focusing on providing services to enlisted, retired, and veteran military individuals. It was during this period that a conversation with Dr. Rea, a mentor and educator, crystallized my decision to pursue studies at Rutgers, Camden.

What about your work at Rutgers, Camden, were you most proud of and excited about

My journey at Rutgers, Camden was marked by academic and personal growth. Among my proudest accomplishments was my contributions to research, notably through collaboration with Dr. Richard Stansfield on various research projects. These experiences allowed me to dive deep into the complexities of the criminal justice system and make meaningful contributions to its advancement. I also appreciated the sense of camaraderie and teamwork among my classmates. This environment of collaboration provided me with valuable insights and friendships that will last a lifetime.

How do you think your time and experiences at Rutgers will improve your success in the future?

Rutgers has given me a well-rounded perspective on criminal justice, the program not only offered insights into the legal aspects of the field but also emphasized the importance of research. Also, my time at Rutgers has not only equipped me with theoretical knowledge but has also instilled in me the practical skills needed to make a meaningful impact in my field.

What will you miss most about Rutgers, Camden Graduate School, and its community?

For me, this institution was more than just a place of education; it was a home filled with lasting friendships and unwavering support. The strong sense of belonging, the mentorship provided by professors, and the camaraderie I experienced with my peers are the aspects I will cherish the most.

Dr. Eric Klein, Computational & Integrative Biology Director

Dr. Klein is the Graduate Program Director of the Center of Computational and Integrative Biology’s (CCIB) M.S. and Ph.D. programs.

Academic Journey

My academic journey mirrors the very essence of CCIB itself – a diverse and multidisciplinary pursuit of knowledge. It all began at the University of Pennsylvania, where I laid the foundation for my intellectual exploration. Armed with undergraduate degrees in Chemical Engineering and Biochemistry, I embarked on a path that was destined to evolve.

For my graduate studies, I remained loyal to the University of Pennsylvania but shifted gears, venturing into the realm of mammalian cell biology. There, I diligently pursued my passion, culminating in the award of a Ph.D. in pharmacology. My postdoctoral journey brought yet another metamorphosis, as I immersed myself in the captivating world of microbiology at Princeton University.

Today, as the leader of my own laboratory, I have harnessed the knowledge and skills acquired throughout my academic journey to drive pioneering research in bacterial lipid metabolism. My lab serves as a melting pot of diverse expertise, engaging chemists, physicists, and biologists in our relentless quest to unravel fundamental questions about bacterial membranes.

About Computational and Integrative Biology

CCIB has experienced remarkable growth over the past decade, nurturing more than 50 Ph.D. and M.S. students. Our esteemed faculty members have secured prestigious research grants, while our students have left their mark in the academic world by publishing in high-impact journals. As the Graduate Program Director, my mission is clear: to perpetuate CCIB’s upward trajectory, ensuring that our students continue to thrive in the best possible training environment.

What research is your lab involved in?

Some of our research work includes Mechanical regulation of bacterial pathogenesis, Regulation of bacterial cell shape, and Bacterial sphingolipid synthesis.

Favorite Quote

My mother made me a scientist without ever knowing it. Every other child would come back from school and be asked, ‘What did you learn today?’ But my mother used to say, ‘Izzy, did you ask a good question today?’ That made the difference. Asking good questions made me into a scientist.

Trsadore Rabi, Nobel Prize Winner for Physics

Chris Kubik Cedeño, Assistant Dean & MFA Student

Chris Kubik Cedeño is an Assistant Dean on the Rutgers-Camden Graduate School team and a student pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.

Academic Journey

I pursued creative writing as part of my English degree as an undergraduate, and later took a workshop as a professional in NYC. This led me to apply to M.F.A. programs, and I studied for one year at Texas State University before transferring to Rutgers-Camden.

Writing has always been my passion. For me, an M.F.A. program provided me with an opportunity to focus on my creative projects and provided me with a structured learning environment. This meant I had deadlines, peer review, and the guidance of other esteemed writers in the program, and all of this has fueled my growth as a writer.

I’ve written extensively on identity, and Latinidad, and my past films and video productions have garnered the attention of film festivals, household brands, and more. Currently, I’m working on a novel that explores identity through the lenses of technology—including artificial intelligence and tools such as ChatGPT. I write in the shadow of absurdist authors who tackle big systems and problems: Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Chris Terry, and Anthony So are the fiction writers who are inspiring me now.

What is your role in the university?

I’m an Assistant Dean here on campus. Most of my role involves administrative operations, which, in a nutshell, means I help students and faculty alike navigate the various procedures and policies of Rutgers so that we all work together seamlessly. I also spearhead our major events and programming, including Orientation, Commencement, Research Week, and more.

My vision for administrative operations at Rutgers, and the Graduate School, always involves shaving points of friction. I always tell students “I don’t want our paperwork to stand in the way of your hard-earned degree.” That has included working with our staff here to streamline old processes and ramp up our communications.

What research is your lab involved in?

Some of our research work includes Mechanical regulation of bacterial pathogenesis, Regulation of bacterial cell shape, and Bacterial sphingolipid synthesis.

Favorite Quote

Mantengase calladito hasta que pase que sea realidad.

Translation: Keep Quiet Until it Comes True.

Carla Villacis, WRI Coordinator & Data Science Student

Carla Villacis is a graduate student pursuing a Master’s degree in Data Science. Hailing from the state of Pennsylvania, she previously earned her MA in Psychology from Rutgers University-Camden.

Academic Journey

After completing my MA in Psychology through Rutgers-Camden, I had the opportunity to continue working at the university as a researcher at the Senator Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs (WRI). At WRI, we do a lot of projects from program evaluations to health needs assessments to research briefs that require us to pull from many data sources and analytical techniques.

As a research coordinator, I got to develop the research skills I’d acquired through my master’s, grow my project management experience, and hone in on qualitative research. And yet, I realized that without gaining more skills and confidence with quantitative data, I would be limited in my understanding of the full extent of data we collect and in my ability to answer the questions of our community partners.

I looked at boot camp programs that promised to train you as a data scientist in six months, but the upfront cost and timeline did not work for me. When I learned about the Data Science program offered through RUC, I felt comfortable applying and enrolling due to my familiarity with the school, the flexibility to enroll part-time, and my own experience with the faculty and their demonstrations for inclusivity and support of any student committed to learning.

This program is very different from my previous academic focus (Romance Languages and Psychology) but I’m excited to learn new skills and tools that can help me grow as a researcher.

What research are you working on?

Currently, I am working in the development and data collection phases for a couple of projects examining health needs across Southern New Jersey. For instance, one project, in partnership with Rowan University, will be gathering data from Atlantic County residents to determine where and how to deploy Community Health Workers to offer more targeted services in the community.

More recently I’ve worked on projects exploring diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts at Rutgers-Camden, based mostly on interview data, although we are preparing to roll out a survey in partnership with DICE in the coming weeks to get input from all students, staff, and faculty at Rutgers-Camden. So please keep an eye out for that!

Favorite Quote:

Bigger dummies than you have gotten there.

My friend Maddy’s Grandmother

Christeen Perera, Mathematical Sciences Student

Christeen graduated from Wagner College with a B.S. in Mathematics and a double minor in Computer Science and Economics. Presently, she is a Mathematical Sciences M.S. student.

A little about Christeen

I am passionate about supporting others in their academic journeys which is why I was a LEAD mentor and an executive committee member of the women’s professional network student initiative here at Wagner. Additionally, with my work as a research assistant, writing tutor, and advisory intern, I developed skills in consulting and data analysis.

Daily, I strive to empower and foster a friendly and productive environment with those around me. While exploring opportunities in mathematics and technology and learning about the growth of women in mathematics.

Why Mathematical Sciences?

I was inspired by one of my college readiness professors in high school who is a passionate woman in math. Although it’s challenging, I appreciate the process of solving problems and like the opportunities that come along with the skills I’ve learned.

My favorite project completed in this program so far was in my Industrial Math course, where I analyzed infant mortality rates in the United States. Dr. Cargill was a great mentor during this research project working with him pushed me to expand my thinking and use computational tools effectively.

Overall, math has also helped me understand logic and critical thinking better. My experience has also helped me to improve in my other areas of interest such as writing, organization, and communication.

I look forward to all the great experiences ahead of me.

Favorite Quote

Don’t ever make decisions based on fear. Make decisions based on hope and possibility.

Michelle Obama