We asked our Class of 2021 graduates to talk about their time at SEBS—a significant or rewarding moment during their career, something they were thankful for, or perhaps a lesson learned. Here are their responses.
A significant moment during my undergraduate experience was my George H. Cook Honors Program presentation. The week of my presentation was extremely busy; however, I worked tirelessly over that week to study for my upcoming exam and to finish my thesis paper for the program. It was one of the greatest challenges I have faced in my life and required perseverance and focus. This required meetings and emails between myself and my adviser. I was constantly editing and revising the paper. I practiced my presentation repeatedly before it was time to present. During the presentation, I felt prepared and ready. I presented without skipping a beat and answered all of the questions the panel asked. Afterwards, I received a call from my adviser, congratulating my efforts. He additionally mentioned how the panel was impressed with my work. This was a special moment because, despite the obstacles in my way, I overcame any challenges and successfully completed my presentation and research project. Thanks to SEBS, the G. H. Cook program and my adviser, I completed my experience-based education, graduated with honors from SEBS, and received a chance to participate in cutting edge cancer research. I have also learned many lab techniques that could help me to get a job in a lab in the future!
The most rewarding moment at SEBS was when I realized I could reach my full potential. During my time at Borough of Manhattan Community College and Hunter College, I was afraid of speaking up for myself and taking a stand for what I wanted and believed in. When I transferred to Rutgers University, transferred from SAS to SEBS, and declared my major as Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources, I saw that I was exceeding my own expectations. I saw that I was in control of my life and making decisions that made me happy. This realization enabled me to take every opportunity presented to me. I became close to Dr. Stanko, Dr. Lockwood, and Dr. Russell, whom I will always regard as my inspirations. Their guidance allowed me to explore my interests and become passionate about marine life, entomology, and invasive species. I then became involved as a SEBS Ambassador where I met Dean Smith and many admitted and prospective students that enjoyed listening to my hands-on experiences in class and at the Rutgers Farm. Other things I enjoyed doing at SEBS were talking to Liann Pechera and Julie Traxler at SEBS Office of Academic Programs, becoming the president of the Rutgers Wildlife
Being a part of Helyar House has been the most rewarding part of my SEBS experience. It gave me the chance to learn leadership skills while also providing me with a very unique experience on a college campus. I never thought I would be raising chickens while studying for my degree, but I did at Helyar! Helyar House provided me with a home and I am thankful that I was able to be there all four years of my undergraduate career. I would not be the person I am today without that experience.
The most significant part of my undergraduate journey was being a part of the SEBS Ambassador Program. It gave me a cozy atmosphere in a large university. It helped me build friendships with peers, deans, and professors. It helped me discover my passion for interacting with people. The most memorable experience for me as an ambassador was giving a prospective student a campus tour and the next semester seeing a freshman who told me, “Thank you for the best tour, and I am glad I chose SEBS and Rutgers!” That small gesture gave me all the happiness in the world. I’m glad I interacted with prospective students and their families, and introduced them to the Scarlet Pride at SEBS. SEBS taught me that “when a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.” I am ready to embark on a new journey with the same thought and create a change that the world needs as a proud SEBS Scarlet Knight.
When thinking about my time here at SEBS, there are many valuable lessons that come to mind. One that I would like to share is the power of admitting that you do not know something. I have had the privilege of mentoring science-focused peer undergraduates during my time here at SEBS. It was very empowering to know that three dozen undergraduates looked up to me as a leader. What was even more empowering was being vulnerable with them. Facilitating biochemistry study groups was demanding. I knew going in that I needed to be on top of my game for protein, nucleotide, lipid, and carbohydrate metabolism, their pathways, their structures, and everything in between. There were some days when I knew exactly what I needed to talk about and how to answer every single question. There were other days when I felt like science was just a never-ending cycle of unanswered questions with an infinite number of possibilities to every single question. Not knowing something allowed me to be real with myself and strive to find answers all the time. Admitting that I do not know something is a lesson I learned that allowed me to feel vulnerable but powerful.
After being in SEBS for the entirety of my undergraduate career, I am most thankful for the people I have met and the community I have been a part of along the way. Every interaction with my SEBS colleagues, peers, and faculty evolved into a lesson learned just by interacting with such a diverse group of people. Going to a big state school after growing up in a small South Jersey town was incredibly daunting, but being able to be a part of a more personable community within a larger school that fosters friendship and academic motivation made all the difference. Finding a lesson in everything, I now know that most people are willing to reach out a helping hand as long as you ask. SEBS helped me to see the good in people and inspired me to strive to have that same impact on the world. As I leave Rutgers and SEBS, I know that I am a better person because of it and because of what I have learned through experience and examples.