Science grads reach for the stars

May 07, 2012

Newburgh, NY -

A degree in natural sciences from Mount Saint Mary College can lead to a high-tech lab or drive one to the dogs.

From working as a chemist to attending veterinary school, the Mount’s rigorous natural science major prepares grads for success in their chosen career fields.

“The science faculty at the Mount is very strong,” said Andre Santa (left), a chemistry major from Walden, NY.

Santa starts a new job two days after graduation this May, as a chemist/quality process engineer for Eastern Alloys, Inc., Maybrook, NY.

Eastern Alloys manufactures world-class zinc alloys using state-of-the-art processing technologies, marketed under the EAZALL® trade name. Santa will be busy testing the quality of products, he said, adding that his job offer came as a result of attending the Mount Saint Mary College employment fair in March.

“I gave my resume to the HR person (from Eastern Alloys), they later found me walking around the fair and I had a preliminary interview on the spot,” said Santa. Some 60 companies were represented at the fair and 173 students attended.

The Mount’s division of natural sciences offers a variety of courses from astronomy and earth science to organic chemistry and animal physiology offering bachelor's degrees in biology or chemistry.

Santa named Mount professors William Lahar, Lynn Maelia, and Janet Petroski as key to his success.

“They were always willing to work with me whenever I needed help,” noted Santa, who works at the college and privately as a chemistry tutor.

Course requirements also prepare students for graduate study, medical, veterinary, or dental school; and careers in industry and education.

Gigianna Santiago ’12 (right), an honors biology major from Newburgh, NY, will study veterinary medicine this fall. She noted that professor Suparna Bhalla, chair of the natural sciences program, served as her advisor and was very helpful regarding the vet school application process.

Santiago says she is well prepared for the challenges that lie ahead, due to the robust science curriculum and hands-on work in the Mount’s state-of-the-art labs in the Kaplan Family Mathematics, Science and Technology Center.

“The strongest aspect of my education at the Mount,” said Santiago, “was the emphasis on taking the lecture material and not only placing it in a real world situation to help you with what you were learning, but also in the application of research.”

Santiago presented her research at the Eastern Colleges Science Conference in Wayne, NJ last month.

Her topic was “Modification of a Plant Microbial Fuel Cell Using Activated Carbon Granules to Improve Electron Transfer.”

Growing up with three dogs and a cat, Santiago knew early on that she wanted to be a veterinarian.

“It’s always been my dream to help animals,” said Santiago, “and to work with zoo animals to make them more engaged, and allow their habitats to reflect more of what they would be exposed to if they were in their natural habitat.”

Recently, while taking a study break, Santiago noted the calming effect of dogs from the Hudson Valley Visiting Pets program who were at the Mount to help students unwind during final exam time.

She credits family and friends, the Mount science division, and Career Center for her undergraduate success.

From the beginning of her time at the Mount, said Santiago, they’ve been “encouraging me to keep going on the path that is my passion.”

Mount natural science alums include Dr. Amy (Dziezynski) Karls ’95, veterinarian, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc., and Nelson Rita ’99, associate clinical trial manager, Mannkind Corporation.