Today we feature first-generation college student and recent December 2020 graduate JoAnna Contarino from Elk Township, NJ (Burlington County). JoAnna is a Environmental & Sustainability Studies major and transfer from Rowan College of South Jersey. She has minors in Ethics, Planning, Political Science and a Certificate of Undergraduate Study in Environmental Policy & Economics.
Tell us a little bit about your favorite class at Rowan.
My favorite class was Environmental Ethics. It was the first time I engaged in conversations around some of the biggest issues in the environmental movement. It also inspired me to get an ethics minor.
Could you share with us one moment during your time at Rowan that made you feel inspired or confident that you’re in the right field for you?
All of the amazing faculty and staff that I have met at Rowan that care about environmental issues are always so willing to help. This field is one that values cooperation and collaboration and Rowan staff in EHS and faculty in departments across campus have demonstrated that for me.
What was one aspect of Rowan that you’ve enjoyed or one happy thing about Rowan that surprised you?
My time on the e-board of the Rowan Environmental Action League (REAL) has been amazing! Working with like-minded peers on environmental issues both on and off campus. We’re currently working on a resolution for SGA that calls on the university to take action given the growing threat of climate change. Even though I’ve technically graduated in December I’ll be working on these efforts as an alumni.
Why continue with your education this year instead of taking a gap year?
I work full-time cleaning an academic building on campus so I usually took 1-2 online courses per semester to get more flexibility in my schedule. This made the switch to fully online less difficult since I already had the practice.
What are your professional goals? And how has Rowan helped to support you in those goals?
I’m working towards a career in environmental organizing or campus sustainability. Professors in the School of Earth & Environment have always been willing and enthusiastic to lend me advice, connect me to organizations and sit down to work on shared goals.
Like what you see?
Story and photography by:
Stephanie Batista, sophomore Music Industry major
We are #RowanPROUD to be included on Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society’s 2021 Transfer Honor Roll, which recognizes select nationwide colleges and universities that foster dynamic pathways for transfer students.