Biology Alum Thanks Professors for Guiding Him Toward Medical School

Today we speak with Nick San Juan, a former transfer student and biological sciences major who graduated in 2019. Nick commuted to Rowan for his undergraduate studies from his home in Deptford, NJ (Gloucester County), and is working his way toward medical school to continue his education.

You mentioned you were a transfer student and a commuter. Where did you transfer from, and why did you choose Rowan?

I went to Rowan College at Gloucester County originally, then transferred to Rutgers New Brunswick for a year and realized that it didn’t fit me personally. I wanted a school closer to home in South Jersey that was smaller and more personal, and so that’s why I chose Rowan.

My first class at Rowan was with Dr. Gregory Eaton. On the first day of classes, most professors like to get to know students, so we did one of those ice breaker activities. I told the class that I was a transfer and this was my first day at Rowan and that I was a little nervous. He took the time to ask me questions about where I transferred from. He shared that he also transferred to Rowan from RCGC, and said that if I had any questions about campus or the biology department to ask him. I really appreciate the time he took to make me feel comfortable.

Nick leans against the bridge by the Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering.How did you meet new people and stay involved on campus as a commuter? 

I went to several club meetings and tried my hand in a few different clubs I was interested in. Because Rowan is a smaller campus, you get to see certain faces regularly and recognize them, and eventually build relationships with some of these people.

Do you have any advice for future transfer students or commuters?

I definitely recommend going to events and trying to be more involved. It can be lonely as a commuter and a transfer student because you don’t really know too many people right away and don’t stay on campus, so you have the mindset that you’re just here for class and not to make friends. But I think that’s a negative outlook, and I’d recommend getting out of your comfort zone and building up the courage to make new friends. College is a unique experience for everyone, and the way to get the most out of that experience is to meet new and different kinds of people.

How did you get involved in your major?

I didn’t have a linear path to biology or a conventional desire to pursue it out of high school. I initially studied math and engineering, until I realized that particular branch of science wasn’t for me. I decided to take a look into biology, and once I considered the potential careers [I could pursue], I decided that this was the major for me. 

What has your career path looked like since you finished your undergrad? 

I am applying to medical school this summer. I will be pursuing medicine, and aim to become a physician at some point. It’s still up in the air for me, which branch of medicine I want to practice, but I know I’ll have plenty of time to explore the different branches of medicine. The two institutions I’m primarily considering are Rowan School of Osteopathic Medicine and Cooper Medical School of Rowan University.

[On the day these photos were captured], I [am] actually on campus to ask Dr. Gregory Hecht for a letter of recommendation. He’s very approachable and personable. My experience in his class was very positive. I’d go to his office hours every week and ask him questions. I think we definitely built a relationship to the point that I felt I could approach him to ask for a recommendation, because we got to know each other over the course of the semester I was in his class, and I think he was someone who took note of my work ethic. 

What are your goals for the future? How do you feel that Rowan has prepared you?

I really enjoyed my time in the science courses at Rowan. My professors really developed me professionally and taught the material in ways that just made sense. Almost everything I was able to learn really stuck with me, and I think I can use that background and the things I have learned here in the medical education I will be fortunate enough to receive in the future.

photo of Nick on the bridge

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Story by:
Nicole Cier, senior writing arts major

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