With tons of accomplishments at Rowan, twin achievers head to separate grad schools

With tons of accomplishments at Rowan, twin achievers head to separate grad schools

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Biology made Veronica (Ronnie) and Gabrielle (Brie) LaMastro twin sisters. Chemistry helped define their futures.

Early in their time as students at Rowan University, when Ronnie was a biomedical engineering major and chemistry minor and Brie was a biological sciences major, the two took Chemistry II together, lab partners through the semester.

“I did all the work,” Ronnie recalled.

“Yeah, you did,” her sister agreed.

Good outcome

Brie, used to getting straight As, struggled with the class, and Ronnie wound up tutoring her.

Good for Brie. Good for Ronnie, too.

Brie earned an A for the class, but after exploring where her head—and heart— really were, she switched biological sciences to a minor along with human resources and chose psychology for her major.

Ronnie decided to switch chemistry from a minor to a major because she loved the class—and teaching chemistry—so much, combining that with her major in biomedical engineering.

The 21-year-old fraternal twins—Ronnie is older by two minutes—graduated in the top five from Pitman High School and lived at home during their college years.

Most days they drove to school together. They do more than that together as well. Both were in the Thomas N. Bantivoglio Honors Concentration at Rowan. Both were members of the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity, for which they have been officers. Both spent a lot of time with other fraternity members sharing service and social activities.

Excellent all around

And both have excelled on their separate paths at Rowan. There’s their 3.9 or higher GPAs. And much more.

In addition to working in engineering and chemistry labs—in some cases as a primary research assistant—on cell culturing, polymers, hydrogels and drug delivery, Ronnie is a member of Tau Beta Pi, The Engineering Honor Society; the Order of Omega, a Greek leadership honor society; and Sigma Xi: The Scientific Research Honor Society. She’s spoken at Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering Clinic Presentations and as part of Cooper Medical School of Rowan University’s Research Day, Life Sciences Future, the Mid-Atlantic Graduate Program Fair in Biomedical Engineering and the Society for Biomaterials 2019 Annual Meeting and Exposition. She prepared an abstract and paper for professional publication and was the winner of the 2017 Award of Merit for the Best Research Paper in Anthropology and the Leonard A. and Seniz U. McMullen International Scholarship in Science and Engineering from Rowan.

“Ronnie is a leader in the lab working on cutting-edge research, and she was a Goldwater Scholar honorable mention,” said Dr. Mark Byrne, founding head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering.

Respected

Added Dr. Erik Brewer, chairman of Innovation and External Partnerships, Department of Biomedical Engineering, “Ronnie is currently preparing a first-author manuscript on her work with (medical device company) ReGelTec involving injectable spinal implants and has been a tremendous asset in the lab. She has presented or is scheduled to present at (a) national conference and a few regional conferences. She has been instrumental in a lot of method development and has assumed leadership in a number of ongoing experiments."

In addition to the activities she shared with her sister, Brie was a member of the Psi Chi, The International Honor Society in Psychology and the Society for Human Resource Management, and she’s worked in the G.R.O.W. (Growth, Resilience and Optimism) Lab in Rowan’s Department of Psychology assisting with literature reviews regarding student engagement. Brie, who also has been a peer tutor and worked in Rowan’s Academic Success Center as a coach, held four internships, both on campus and off, including one in human resources at the Kroc Center in Camden.

“Brie is one of the brightest undergraduate students who I have interacted with at Rowan. Her classwork was advanced, her in-class contributions were exceptional, and she demonstrated a determination that places her in the top 1% of students I’ve taught,” said Mark R. Hale, an adjunct professor in the Department of Psychology,

Dr. Joel Rudin, a professor in the Department of Management and Entrepreneurship, said “One of the most noteworthy things about Brie is her engagement with the professional community. She has attended more monthly meetings of the Tri-State Human Resource Management Association than any other student. Her willingness to network will be a great asset in what I expect to be a long and successful career. “I have no doubt that Brie is going to be successful wherever life leads her, and that she will leave her positive mark on everything she embraces.”

Echoed Dr. William Camron Casper, an assistant professor in the Department of Management and Entrepreneurship, “Brie was a delight as a student. But it was her quiet leadership that made her unique . . . The other students looked up to her as well.”

Togetherness good

The LaMastros enjoyed attending the same college.

Brie said, “I really liked it, but I’m also the needier twin. So I’m always excited when Ronnie’s around.”

As for their Rowan highlights, Ronnie said, “It may sound cheesy but the highlight was all the friends I’ve made. We have a few pretty close friends from elementary school, but a lot of my friend groups have been made and formed at Rowan, many from APO.”

The service fraternity figured big for Brie, too. “My time in APO has definitely been my favorite. I held a lot of executive board positions, and to see it grow from six to about 70 people (was wonderful).”

Diverging paths

Things will change soon for Ronnie and Brie.

Both attended the College of Science & Mathematics commencement ceremony on Monday, May 13.

Ronnie was the speaker at the Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 16, as valedictorian (she earned all As except for an A- in Mechanical Foundations in Biomedical Engineering), addressing hundreds of classmates and guests. She graduated with the Irene Elizabeth Tracey Medallion for Excellence in Engineering, awarded to a senior who has demonstrated excellence in scholarship, leadership, service and character.

After that ceremony, they headed north with their family to see their older sister, Gwen, receive her master’s degree at William Paterson University in educational leadership in curriculum: teaching children mathematics—but that was after attending every Rowan ceremony to watch their friends graduate.

Then the twins are about to go their separate—and impressive—ways.

Eye on the future

Ronnie is heading to Brown University in Rhode Island to pursue a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering, with the goal of becoming a research professor and running her own lab and maybe teaching at Rowan one day.

Brie will pursue a master’s degree in human resource development at Villanova University with the intention of starting her professional career in HR, first as a generalist and then focusing on talent acquisition or training and development.

They’re not thrilled about separating.

“I’m not happy,” said Brie.

“It’s going to be an adjustment,” acknowledged Ronnie.