On Saturday, October 29th, the Governor’s STEM Scholars launched its ninth class with 128 Scholars, the largest class in programmatic history. A program of the Research & Development Council of New Jersey, The Governor’s STEM Scholars provides high-achieving high school and college students with a 360° view of New Jersey’s STEM economy.
Gathering at the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy (EMSP) at Rutgers University in Piscataway, the Scholars learned about STEM career opportunities in New Jersey government. The day kicked off with an introduction from EMSP Dean Joseph A. Barone, PharmD, FCCP, who shared information about careers as pharmacists as well as information about Rutgers’ six-year PharmD program.
Next, the Scholars heard professional journeys from an all-star panel of STEM professionals who work in government. The panelists included Michael Geraghty, the Director of Cybersecurity and Chief Information Security Officer for the State of New Jersey; Samuel Joisil, Acting Manager of the STEM Office at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) Armaments Center at Picatinny Arsenal; Robert Kumapley, Chief of the Enterprise Asset Management Program at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; Capt. Jean O’Brien, U.S. Navy, Retired; and Nick Procopio, Ph.D., Director of the Division of Science and Research at the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. The panel explored their motivation to pursue STEM careers in government, successes and challenges on their STEM journey, and advice to the young adults as they begin their STEM education and careers. The Scholars also got a chance to ask the panelists questions and learn about their unique and diverse experiences as STEM professionals.
The Governor’s STEM Scholars has long had a partnership with PSEG and were honored to have Angela Parrinello, University Lead at PSEG lead a workshop on finding an internship. The professional skills Ms. Parrinello shared with the Scholars, from resume building to interview tips, will help the class in the future as they start their STEM careers.
After lunch, which was provided by EMSP, the Scholars heard from New Jersey State Senator Andrew Zwicker, Ph.D. and Anna Dulencin, Ph.D., the Director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics’ Science and Politics Program at Rutgers University on public service and STEM. Senator Zwicker and Dr. Dulencin discussed the importance of STEM professionals in making and implementing policy and laws.
The Scholars learned about how they can advocate for change through the final panel of the day – an advocacy case study around the Newark water crisis. Peter Chen, Esq., a senior policy analysist at NJ Policy Perspective; Anthony Diaz, founder and executive director of the Newark Water Coalition; and Dr. Dan Van Abs, a Professor of Professional Practice for Water, Society & Environment at Rutgers University discussed their instrumental efforts to bring clean water to the City of Newark, where it was discovered that much of the residential pipes were leaking lead into the drinking water of its citizens. Discussing communications, community organizing, and research efforts, the panelists showcased how young adults and STEM professionals can make positive impacts on communities through advocacy.
The Scholars completed the day with a tour of EMSP’s facilities that train pharmacy students to excel in clinical, research and community settings.
All the Scholars will come back together in December for the STEM in Academia conference held at Rowan University.