What it's like to study Biology at Centenary


Patrick Bowen '10

Hydrologic Technician
United States Geologic Survey (USGS)

Centenary College Biology Major »

Patrick Bowen ’10 has always been passionate about science. “When I was applying to colleges, I knew what I wanted to pursue,” he explains. “I chose Centenary because it offered an excellent Biology curriculum, small classes, and the opportunity to get to know professors on a personal level.” Patrick’s college course load included classes in animal behavior, astronomy, chemistry, plant biology, physics and earth science. “My classes were tough, but that didn’t discourage me; they were all so interesting. Centenary professors make it a joy to attend class and learn something new.”

Before matriculating at Centenary, Patrick completed an internship with the United States Geological Survey (USGS), a position he returned to every summer throughout college. The experience he gained in water science was hands-on: “I would visit designated streams throughout the state, take measurements, and collect data for analysis.” Determined to secure a full-time position with the USGS after graduation, Patrick enlisted the help of his advisor, Dr. Lauren Bergey, to ensure that he completed all the necessary coursework for the field. “Dr. Bergey was enormously influential,” he comments. “She knew how much I loved science and made sure I fulfilled all the requirements needed to translate my internship into a job.”

Today, Patrick is a hydrologic technician for the USGS, with an office in West Trenton, N.J. “Each day is different for me,” he says. “I’m always doing something new, which is why this work is so interesting and fun.” His responsibilities include site construction, inspection, and maintenance, as well as data collection and analysis. “It’s a challenging field, but once you sit down and enjoy the learning process, it becomes so much easier. What’s most rewarding is when I can tell someone all the interesting new things I learned today.”

Patrick encourages high school seniors who are interested in science to consider Centenary. “It’s the place to be if you want to have personal relationships with your professors and get the most out of your college experience,” he comments. “I was active in the community there—I wrestled, participated in Earth Day, and taught classes about my internship. It’s a very structured and supportive environment, which really helped me transition from school to the professional world.”


Victoria Floriani ’10

Candidate, M.S. Biology
Seton Hall University

Centenary College Biology Major »

Centenary’s Biology program may be small, but according to recent Biology graduate Victoria Floriani ’10 it is also incredibly rigorous. “It’s challenging,” explains Victoria, who grew up in Atlantic City and is now pursuing a Master of Science in Biology at Seton Hall University. “The lower level courses are ‘make-you-or-break-you’ classes. But once you make it through the first year, you know you are set.”

Even with a challenging course load Victoria says, “the best four years of my life were at Centenary College.” As an undergraduate she served as First-Year Leader for new students, coordinated Midnight Run, a student-led effort that brings food and supplies to the homeless in New York City, and was a student-coordinator for the College’s annual relief effort that helps to rebuild homes and lives on Louisiana’s Gulf Coast.
The experience of serving others has also helped to define Victoria’s professional aspirations. After completing her master’s degree, the Centenary alumna plans to attend medical school to become a trauma surgeon.

Victoria credits several Biology faculty members for setting her on this path. “I really didn’t think about graduate school until the middle of my junior year,” she says. “The professors are the best. Dr. Bergey, Dr. Orenstein and Dr. Felder are all very knowledgeable in their field. All three of them are there for the students, anytime you need them.  I have all of their home phone numbers. They really are wonderful people.”


Heather Romlein ’10

Candidate, M.S. Microbiology
Seton Hall University

Centenary College Biology Major »

Heather Romlein ’10 thought she wanted to become a biology teacher and chose Centenary College for its well-regarded Education Department. After taking a few biology courses and establishing relationships with the biology faculty, Heather began thinking about research and medicine.

 “I never thought about going to graduate school,” says Heather who credits Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Lauren Bergey and Dr. Amanda N. Orenstein for their encouragement and advice. “They’re the ones who planted the idea in my head and they’re the ones who told me, ‘you can definitely do this.’” Heather began graduate studies in Microbiology at Seton Hall University this fall.

She says the rigors of Centenary’s undergraduate program prepared her well. As part of Senior Seminar in Biology, Heather also obtained some real world exposure to medicine and completed an internship with an orthopedic medical practice in Hackettstown. “It was definitely all-around interesting,” says the Centenary alumna, who observed several surgical procedures at Hackettstown Medical Center. As a future microbiologist who hopes to work on vaccine development, she was particularly interested in aseptic procedures in the surgical suite and techniques used to keep bacteria and infection under control.

Reflecting on her Centenary experience, Heather appreciates the bonds formed with faculty members most of all. “I was super-impressed with how Centenary deals with the students,” she says. “The Biology professors always took extra time to help you. You really get to know the faculty and they help you through the rough patches.”

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Derek Rankin '09

Flavor Chemist at Flavor Dynamics

"I liked the people at Centenary.  Students, staff and faculty were always kind and helpful.  It was an overall great place to go to school and I would recommend it to anyone.  My friends from big universities have more horror stories than anything else.  I'm glad I cannot relate to them."

RJ Swingle '10

New York Chiropractic College: 
Best Dissection Superficial Head and Neck

"The best thing I liked about Centenary was how approachable many of the professors were.  It made it seem like you could always ask questions if you didn't understand."