Michael Graziano had his heart set on becoming a veterinarian when he stepped foot on the George H. Cook Campus as an animal science major. His time on campus, however, introduced him to a research-intensive trajectory that eventually earned him a Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky. Today, he is the vice president of drug safety evaluation at the Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, and gives back to his alma mater by supporting the Animal Science Graduate Student Scholarship.
Q: How did your experience on the G.H. Cook Campus influence your career?
A: Cook College, as it was named when I attended, really set the framework and foundation for my career. The program in animal science had a lab-based option, which provided fantastic undergraduate training and education for those who were not interested in working with farm animals. I distinctly remember one of the lab courses taught by the late Dr. Enrique Santamarina, who was also my adviser. He was a wonderful and patient man who helped me and encouraged me to pursue further studies in graduate school. I also had the opportunity to take an introduction to toxicology course during my senior year, which was taught by Dr. Anthony Verlangieri. I was fascinated by the subject of toxicology. Together, these professors and the basic science foundation I received at SEBS really helped steer me in a certain direction for graduate school and beyond. I am really indebted to Rutgers and the animal science program for giving me an outstanding undergraduate experience.
Q: There must be a number of causes you could support. Why SEBS?
A: It is very important for me to give back to Rutgers since my experiences at Cook College both academically and socially were priceless. Rutgers really helped me grow as a person and exposed me to new and exciting career options. The coursework was extremely challenging as compared to my high school experience, and I had to learn how to study and really understand the subject matter. I have had a very successful and rewarding career, and I truly believe this wouldn’t have happened without Rutgers. For that I am truly grateful, and I feel a strong sense of duty and obligation to give back to the school where it all started. I support a lot of charities, but Rutgers is at the top of my list.
Q: Do you have a message for your fellow alumni?
A: I would remind them to never forget where it all started. Rutgers gave you a great experience and I would encourage everyone to take pride in Rutgers and support your school. With the high cost of education and the competitiveness of research funding, I really believe we all have an obligation to give back. The future success of Rutgers’ students and academic programs are counting on us. Upstream red team!
Editor’s Note: this article originally appeared in Explorations Spring 2018.