On Saturday, April 2, 2016, Kean University’s Biology Club hosted its 2nd Annual Biological and Health Sciences Career Conference in the Miron Student Center. Over 150 students attended the event for a chance to meet and learn from practicing professionals in biological and health sciences.
The conference featured over thirty professionals including medical doctors, physician assistants, nurses, biological scientists, and university professors. Each conducted a 30-minute informational session for students. Sessions ran from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and each student had an opportunity to tailor the day to his or her career interests. The conference also featured popular exam-prep organization The Princeton Review, which held Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) workshops for students interested in higher education.
The panel of professionals spoke about everything from personal experience in their respective fields to collegiate advice and internship and job opportunities available. For many of them, the process of continuing education posed challenges and difficulties.
Dr. Amy Sprinkle, plant and soil scientist stated, “Most people think success is a straight line, but it’s not. Many speakers offered similar words of wisdom and encouragement to students.
“Most people think success is a straight line, but it’s not.”
The conference allowed students to meet with professionals who have succeeded, could share first-hand experiences, answer important questions, and give them valuable tips. Perhaps most importantly, the conference provided students with inspiration and walking examples of success. Because college can be unspeakably challenging at times, it is critical that students have exposure to successful professionals, and reminders that it is possible to reach their academic and professional goals.
Students were able to gain exposure to their fields of interest outside of the traditional classroom or lecture hall setting. This allowed students greater insight on practical applications for their degrees. Tracy Heng, junior chemistry and biology double major, plans to be a physician assistant. She explains how the conference helped her.
“I spoke to one of the doctors from St. George University and she told me a lot about scholarships, and her personal experiences. It was definitely motivational” Heng states. “It reminded me of my goal.”
The conference also created a platform for dialogue about important topics. Students were able to gain new knowledge and learn vicariously from the discussions that took place within the informational sessions. Ester Adler, senior biology major and future physical therapy graduate student of Columbia University explains:
"It’s just about learning new things, and being open to learning new things.”
Kean University’s Biology Club executive board had similar thoughts in the organization and implementation of this conference, teaming up with Faculty Advisor Kerrylynn Konecny to host the event for the 2nd year in a row. The non-funded student group saw the impact the conference had on students the year prior and went above and beyond to make the same impact this year. They ventured to connect with and invite a number of medical schools, health-related organizations, and a wide variety of biological and health science professionals, many of whom came from out-of-state to speak to students.
Biology Club Treasurer, Mariam Ishak networked with local companies and organizational leaders within Kean University to obtain much of the funding that made the event possible. They executive board agrees that the outcome was well worth the hard work, and that with each year comes new experiences and opportunities for learning. A reoccurring theme this year was that success truly is non-linear, that it comes through various life and educational experiences; a lesson that any student can benefit from.
The Biology Club’s mission is to help students gain educational, environmental, and social awareness through community service, and on-campus and off-campus activities. It sponsors and organizes events like the career conference, which expose students to various educational resources, and invaluable information for success in college and beyond. The club can be a great resource for any Kean University student. To get connected, find them on Cougar Link.