What factors led you to decide to attend Hudson County Community College?
Since I am genuinely a life-long learner in the truest sense, I wanted to go back to school to expand my academic horizons to
include the sciences; foremost among these biotechnology. I thought that I would start out with becoming a health services major
and then moving on to become a biotechnology major.
What is your favorite memory of the College, in or out of the classroom?
While attending an anatomy and physiology I course, during a laboratory, Dr. Raffaella Pernice, the biology professor teaching the
course, was instructing students how to use a stethoscope and sphygmomanometer. As she interacted with me, after taking my resting
heartrate, she looked at me somewhat worried, I felt, and stated, “I hope that you are taking care of this…” I was aware and made
her aware that I was enduring atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat). From that point forth, I looked at Dr. Pernice as a
concerned physician, not simply my biology professor. Her concern was serious and sincere.
How did you become interested in biology and biotechnology?
I have always loved school, academic activity, and wanted to become a professor from early in my youth. Studying has been and
continues to be a joy and a refuge for me. Teaching is, in part, a performance art, a genuine means of intellectual empathy, and a
sense of true generativity in an Eriksonian sense, whereby one conveys important knowledge to hopefully eager youth, thirsty for
sincere intellectual reciprocity. I passionately gravitated toward biology and along the way was so grateful to have benefitted
from the excellent professors in HCCC’s STEM program, specifically my biology professors.
How did your time at HCCC prepare you for your career/ life now?
Having already earned 14 college degrees, 10 of which are graduate degrees, I really wanted to change majors and academic interests
from humanities and social sciences to more physical quantitative sciences. I am an extremely passionate educator and student who
approaches my academic studies with a tenacity that is fueled by curiosity, passion, and raw, unapologetic effort. My time at HCCC
has afforded me the great opportunity to switch academic directions in my career, yet still remain focused on what essentially
holds the greatest intrinsic meaning for me: learning something new.
What is a typical work day for you?
I am always busy with some academic task of some sort. Then, once out of the house, I am either taking the PATH or a bus to a
class, rushing to teach somewhere or going to a class that I am enrolled in as a student.
What has been the most memorable project/ case you have worked on?
A couple of summers ago, I worked on a project that I had presented for a microbiology class that I was taking at that time with
Dr. Lyonel Destin. I presented a lecture on prion disease. I was fascinated by the subject matter and would like, at some future
point, if possible, to engage in graduate work in virology.
Who are your biggest inspirations that have impacted your work in some way?
Certainly Dr. Stanley B. Prusiner (professor of neurology and biochemistry and Nobel Prize Laureate, 1997), Dr. Michael Stone
(forensic psychiatrist and professor of clinical psychiatry), Dr. Adam J. Krakowski (psychiatrist and author of medical texts on
liaison psychiatry and psychosomatic medicine), and Dr. Gunther von Hagens, physician, pathologist, and public anatomist. In
addition, I was deeply appreciative of the many excellent HCCC biology and history professors I had the great pleasure of learning
What advice would you give to recent HCCC graduates?
Allow the arduous job search to take care of itself. Instead of worrying about chasing dollars, choose personal and professional
passion as a guide to what you will spend your time and energy pursuing. After all, if you are not intrinsically connected to what
occurs in your life, then you will waste too much valuable time regretting previous choices.
What advice do you have for those students who are just starting their college careers?
Remain in the moment. When in class, engage in attending behaviors. Not every lecture has a rewind button, so take your studies
seriously yet have fun along the way by challenging your potential and keep in mind that intellectual growth is a life-long
process. As a result, take time to reflect on how far you’ve come from previous learning. Set high yet realistic goals and treat
these goals as challenges to be achieved. Never confuse goals with dreams. Goals hopefully emanate from realistic self-assessment;
whereas, a person’s dreams are often influenced by the idealistic-yet-inaccurate thinking of others. Know your own limits; we all