When she entered St. John’s University in the Fall of 2002,
Shahper was planning to major in Biology. She also knew that she
wanted a career in research, mostly because she couldn’t stand the
sight of blood. Practicing medicine was definitely out.
That all changed when she met Pharmaceutical Sciences Professor
Sue Ford and learned about the Toxicology program. She switched her
major and never looked back. This year she was accepted into
St. John’s BS/MS option and since a degree in Toxicology virtually
guarantees entrée into a multitude of fields, Shahper will have her
pick of areas in which to specialize after graduation from St.
John’s, including regulatory affairs, clinical or forensic science,
environmental toxicology, laboratory research or perhaps risk
When asked why she chose St. John’s University over other
colleges and universities, Shahper said it was a choice she made on
the advice of her mother, who thought it was the right fit for her
“passion for science and research.” Her teachers at Bayside High
School, who were familiar with St. John ’s science curriculum, also
thought the University’s courses would appeal to her. Also
considering her uncle’s positive experience at St. John’s and the
scholarship she was offered (about 50 percent of admitted St.
John’s students are offered scholarships if they meet the academic
criteria), Shahper made her decision. “Personally, I had to
experience St. John’s on my own and I rediscovered what [it] stands
for and what it has to offer.
She describes herself as “very happy” with her life at St.
John’s and credits her involvement with clubs, other students and
faculty as keeping her that way. “I was fortunate enough to meet
the right people at the right time. I learned more about myself and
my skills through my organizations; I learned more about my
strengths, weaknesses and what I wanted to do with my life through
my work and research. I met people who have influenced and
supported me, especially the McNair Scholars Program and I could
not have come this far without them.”