On Saturday, April 24, 2017, the Biology Club and Pre-Medical Pre-Dental Association (PMPD) of Kean University hosted the third annual Biological and Health Science Career Conference in the Miron Student Center (MSC) Alumni Atrium.
In addition to biology majors, there were chemistry majors, occupational therapy (OT) majors and physical therapy (PT) majors present. Any student who was interested in learning more about the pre-medical, pre-dental or science field at Kean University and in the future, was invited to go to this conference.
Students had to RSVP beforehand, but if they were not able to, they were given a chance to sign up at the front desk of the atrium.
At the conference, there were different professionals that helped give students an overview of the programs. Not only were college students invited, but high school students from Linden and Elizabeth were invited as well. These students attended multiple workshops and lectures with speakers within the science and medical field.
Linda Yarfi, president of Biology Club and junior molecular biology major, was present at the conference.
"[Students] get to know more about their school as well as their professors. They get to have a feel of the field with different professionals," said Yarfi.
The other students who represented Biology Club, the Physical Therapy Club (PTC), American Chemical Society (ACS) and Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA) were eager to help students participate in the workshops.
"I think it's important that students attend this conference because it gives them a better idea of what to do with their degree later on," said Samantha Estomo, junior biology major and president of PTC. "Students don't have to be in a lab coat in the future -- You might go in thinking that you want to pursue a certain profession, but you'll be exposed to so many different routes and careers with this conference. It might spark an interest towards another profession or just solidify even more than you want to pursue a certain career. There are plenty of opportunities to boost their resume here."
The conference went from 10 a.m. and lasted until about 3 p.m. The event served breakfast and lunch for those who attended. There were opening remarks made by the Biology Club, PMPD and Professor Kerrylynn Konecny, advisor for Biology Club. After that, students could walk into any workshop that was held in MSC 226, 228 or 315.
For any future science and/or health care professionals, there were workshops and guest speakers from programs like Joesph Persico, doctor of PT (DPT) and a clinical director of Union, NJ's JAG Physical Therapy; Shaunica Mitchell, clinical research scientist for Celgene; Princeton Review for GRE and MCAT; ACE Healthcare Training Institute; PA-C J. Philip Festa, from EXCELL education; and PA-C Marlene B. Taylor-Ponterotto, primary care physician.
There were other speakers who are professors from Kean University, such as Dr. Xiabo Yu, biological science professor and paleontologist; Dr. George Holan, professor and PT neurological curriculum coordinator; Dr. Portia Johnson, professor in Kean's School of Nursing; Dr. Elizabeth Manheim, biology professor and embryologist; Dr. Maria Shumskaya, plant biochemist professor; Dr. Kim Spaccarotella, biology professor and nutritional scientist; Dr. Salvatore Coniglio, chemical biology professor; and Ray Divirgilio, Kean athletic training program trainer.
Some alumni from other schools came in and represented their medical and/or science program, such as Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, Lehman College, Ross University School of Medicine and St. George's University.
Mitchel Constant, junior biology cell molecular major and president of PMPD, said, "We have them [guest speakers] throughout the year to make a connection with the students. If you have no idea what your future beholds, just come to the conference and I believe just being here can help."
Schools such as Rutgers Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy had their alumni come in. Dr. Nima Moayer, registered pharmacist and professor of pharmaceutical marketing, held a workshop early during the conference.
Of course, there were other professional guests such as Dr. Wahib Zafar, oncology fellow; Mariam Sheikh, doctor of osteopathic medicine and anesthesiologist; and Esquire Jennifer Walsh, medical malpractice defense lawyer.
Joshua Reyes, Kean psychology alumnus and occupational therapist, presented a workshop during the afternoon.
"It's really important that students are here because it's all about professionalism. Students can see what it's like out there in the world and won't be blindly going out into their field," Reyes said. "I advise students to take [their] time making decisions. It can be scary [not knowing what field to go], but be true to you."
There was a suture workshop with Dr. Asaph Levy, where students had to pre-register because of the limited space.
The conference not only had guest speakers and guest-hosted workshops, but there were test taking workshops and community service options.
Near the end of the conference, a raffle for an Amazon Echo Dot and a Barnes and Noble gift card was being called out. Everyone was given a raffle ticket during lunch and would have a chance at winning these prizes.
This morning to afternoon conference helped students find out more about the path they are taking, and next year, there will be another conference.
"Usually, we have 25 to 35 speakers throughout the year and 150 to 200 students show up to this conference," said Professor Konecny. "This is usually our big event, besides going to Liberty Hall [Museum]. When students come here, I usually recommend to them volunteering or shadow a professional person and get their feet wet."