Alumni News  |  Long Read

Alumni pursue medical careers

thanks to their Ramapo experience

by Angela Daidone  |  Winter 2021

Numerous Ramapo graduates throughout the years have pursued careers in the medical and healthcare fields. We caught up with three of them whose career paths started very differently and ultimately found their true passion in medicine. Each of them credits their experiences at Ramapo for their decisions.

Ellie Delanni ’19, majored in psychology with minors in criminology and substance abuse disorders.

The Waldwick, N.J., native entered Ramapo as a literature major but said when she took an intro to psychology class, she knew she needed to pursue a different path. “I was really fascinated by the subject so I declared my major and continued studying, even choosing minors that were related. Through clinical volunteer experience in the field, I saw that psychology is actually a big part of healthcare. I began investigating requirements to get into medical school, and felt that my background in psychology combined with my interest in medicine would help me provide for a wide range of patients.”

Delanni ultimately decided on Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in Piscataway, N.J., so she could stay close to home. 

“My experience at Ramapo was really awesome. I developed close relationships with many of my peers and a lot of the faculty as well, which was very helpful whenever I needed career, or life, advice. The small class sizes really helped me grow and, overall, I think the atmosphere at Ramapo is ideal for exploring many different subjects, even if they’re not related to your major.” 

Delanni hasn’t yet decided on a particular field of medicine but knows she wants to work with children, likely in a hospital setting. “Whether or not I pursue pediatric psychiatry, I know that my psychology education at Ramapo will be a big help to me as I treat patients and their families and help them understand diagnoses.” 

Alyssa Maurin ’15 originally planned on pursuing art therapy as a career. The Teaneck, N.J., native was a double major in visual arts, with a concentration in photography, and psychology. However, after completing several internships in the field, she couldn’t “see herself doing the work long-term.”  

Maurin wasn’t sure in which direction she wanted to go, so she completed a TEFL/TESOL (Teacher of English to Speakers of Foreign/Other Languages) certification course, recommended by the Roukema Center at Ramapo. As a result, she had an “incredible experience” as a volunteer in Spain teaching English at a high school for a few months. “It still wasn’t the right field for me so I decided to try out healthcare, as opposed to mental healthcare, to see if it was a good fit.”

She explored dentistry and worked as a dental assistant for four years, while also completing a two-year post-baccalaureate pre-medical studies program at Rider University. Maurin chose UConn School of Dental Medicine because she believes “dentistry is an important art of a person’s systemic health and I wanted to attend a program that treated dentistry s a component of medicine as a whole.”

She also was drawn to the school’s small class sizes, comparing them to Ramapo’s.

“I had a great experience at Ramapo. I loved getting a liberal arts education where I was exposed to multiple disciplines that I may not have been exposed to otherwise. I formed strong bonds with the faculty, and I feel lucky to have had the professors that I did,” said Maurin, adding that her study abroad experiences were life-changing.

“I hope to provide oral healthcare to people in underserved and overlooked communities, as healthcare is a human right and not a privilege just for the wealthy,” Maurin said.

Thomas McGrath ’19, graduated with a B.S. in biology. The Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., native is attending Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine (HMSOM) at Seton Hall University in New Jersey.

“My initial goal was physical therapy, but the more time I spent working with physical and occupational therapists, the more of a passion I developed for medicine,” said McGrath. “Patients would talk to me about the journey that landed them in therapy (injury, to diagnosis, to surgery), and it completely enamored me. I volunteered with an amazing physician in Morristown, N.J. and I made the switch junior year.”

McGrath said the the structure of the HSMOM curriculum was a major selling point when he was deciding where to apply. “They have a three-year program, but offer an optional fourth year that can be spent in whatever field I choose, whether it’s research, working with a community organization, or doing extra rotations.”

McGrath is still unsure which field of medicine he’d like to pursue, saying he was initially interested in orthopedics but is considering emergency or internal medicine. “I do, however, know that I want to eventually work with Doctors Without Borders, so I’m trying to learn French. My ultimate goal is to start a free community clinic that offers comprehensive care, and maybe down the line, even teaching medicine.”

He credits his experience at Ramapo as the impetus for his decision to choose this career path. “My professors and peers were absolutely second to none. A favorite moment I had at Ramapo was when my research group and I were chosen to represent TAS during Scholars’ Day and present a project we worked really hard on. That was quite an honor.”