Student Spotlight: April Serratelli C’22

April Serratelli  C’22                                   

What attracted you to Drew?

The small, close-knit community and beautiful campus I recognized on my first tour of the campus – my tour guide seemed to know every person on the path. This goes hand in hand with the education we receive here at Drew – the small class size was another main factor. I wanted a college experience where I would not just be a number to a professor – and the small class sizes as well as the dedicated and exceptional professors we have here at Drew always go above and beyond to make sure the students are excelling not only in the classroom but also post-Drew. Another aspect of Drew that definitely influenced my decision to attend here was the strictly undergraduate science program. This meant to me (and still does), that all of the research opportunities here go directly to the undergraduate students – so as an underclassman I would be able to conduct research with a professor, which is an experience that is very hard to come by.

Why did you choose Neuroscience and Biology as majors?

I chose neuroscience mainly because in high school I worked in a nursing home for just over two years, and there was a lockdown unit of patients who had Alzheimer’s disease. The entire time I worked at the nursing home, all I could think about was how the science and medical communities need more resources, scientists, and medical professionals to help this community. There was a specific patient who I became very close with, and I knew at that moment in time I wanted to become a doctor that specializes in neurodegenerative diseases. By taking the neuroscience classes at Drew, I have been able to deepen my understanding of the field as well as grow my love for anything and everything to do with the brain – our understanding of the brain thus far has so much more potential for breakthroughs, and therefore more opportunities for understanding billions of connections within the human body greater.

Through the research opportunities this university provides, I have come to realize that not only do I plan to become a physician who specializes in neurodegenerative diseases, but I also would love to contribute to research that could potentially benefit that population.

Have you done any internships?

I am currently completing an internship at Students 2 Science, a nonprofit organization that brings STEM education and experience to students who may not have the resources to do so.

How do you enjoy playing field hockey at Drew?

I am beyond thankful for the opportunity to not only continue to play my sport in college, but to have a team as close-knit as ours is, as well as having a coaching staff that promotes “student-athlete; student comes first”. Field hockey is the best way for me to be able to have a few hours to better myself both physically and mentally outside of the classroom.

Do you have any mentors at Drew?

My primary academic advisor and research advisor Dr. Roger Knowles has supported me since freshman year when I took his Introduction to Neuroscience course. His research in Alzheimer’s Disease sparked an interest in me, and I am beyond thankful to say that I have had the opportunity to conduct research under him for a few years. Dr. Adam Cassano has also been extremely supportive and encouraging within the chemistry/ biochemistry courses I have taken, and his dedication to ensuring his students learn and understand the information is beyond noticeable and respected by his students. Last but not least Dr. Joanna Miller conducts her lab in a way that simulates a professional laboratory environment, and holds her students accountable and thereby the experience gained in her lab is beyond valuable.

What issue in the world means the most to you?

One of the issues that I still have trouble coming to terms with is how expensive medical care is within the United States. It seems unfathomable to me that in this country, today, someone can go to a medical center for a lifesaving procedure, and the result is crippling debt for years to come. One of my main focuses in becoming a physician is make sure that everyone gets the care they need and deserve, without accumulating thousands of dollars’ worth of debt.

What are a few of your favorite memories of Drew? 

Some of my favorite memories of Drew consist of early morning (or late night) exploring that occurred after leaving the library at 2 in the morning, or the endless nights spent in the library with friends studying for an exam. The community here at Drew, especially in the academic sense, is incredible – there are so many occasions where I would be studying for an exam in a class like organic chemistry with one person, and eventually it would seem like around half the class was in the same study room as us and we were bouncing ideas and concepts off of each other.

How has your identity in the Faith, Religion & Spirituality community impacted your journey?

My faith has allowed me to understand that through every hardship I face, there is a lesson and a reason behind it. It has allowed me, and will forever allow me to maintain compassion for anyone through any situation; it is a constant reminder to stay honest and humble.

What advice would you give students who are just starting out that you wish you had when you started?

Try to get involved with as many things as possible. Go to every event, go to any club meeting that interests you, do not limit yourself to one or two activities. Drew is amazing in the sense of being able to get involved with anything and everything you can, there are no limitations!

What are your career goals? Where do you hope to be in 5 years?

My ultimate career goal is to become a doctor one day – before I start my medical school career however I would love the opportunity to conduct research within the neuroscience field. I believe that the research experience will allow me to understand and diagnose conditions at a deeper level, as well as continue my education and experience. In 5 years I would like to be in medical school, with enough experience and knowledge to choose the specialty I will eventually practice!

Are there any fun facts you would like to share?

I LOVE to travel, and a few summers ago I was lucky enough to road trip across the USA with my aunt, uncle, and two cousins. It is so important to understand how people across the country vary in terms of daily life, and road tripping allows for exposure and conversations with the locals that flying or staying in hotels would not allow.


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