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Biotech Graduate Student Finds a “Home” at St. John’s

Deanna Ingrassia

By the time Deanna Ingrassia '16MS came to St. John’s University, she had already puzzled over the next step in her career.

“There were so many paths to consider,” said the Deer Park, NY, native, who earned her bachelor’s degree in biology at The State University of New York at Geneseo. “Originally, I wanted to get my Ph.D. and go into research. But I felt I needed a stepping stone to help me decide which program I’d ultimately choose.”

Ms. Ingrassia found her path at St. John’s. She was impressed by the University’s graduate offerings in the sciences. St. John's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has programs in molecular and cell biology. The other option was the Master of Science in Biological and Pharmaceutical Biotechnology which combines courses from St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. The combined program was extremely well rounded, she observed. Additionally, Ms. Ingrassia found St. John’s faculty very supportive and understanding.

During her time at St. John’s, she volunteered as a Patient Liaison at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. Her role entailed explaining to patients what they could expect on their surgery day and also to keep families abreast of their progress during the procedure. “Eventually, one of the surgeons allowed me to shadow his surgeries, which really helped me decide that medicine was the way to go for me.”

She did her master’s thesis at the New York Stem Cell Foundation, where she worked as a Research Associate. A fellow St. John’s graduate student alerted her to the position after she left the Foundation. “I really want patients and the public to know that the research we’re doing (with stem cells) translates to real life. I want to be that liaison between the researchers and the public.

"Someday I would like to teach and get my Ph.D., but right now I’m going to marry my research with the clinical side by attending medical school.” She began her studies at Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine in June.

“I don’t think I would have been as successful had I not attended St. John’s,” she stressed. “I believe that proving I could handle a full course load, write my thesis, study for my MCATs, and still be happy and successful helped me get into medical school.”

Ms. Ingrassia’s experience as a St. John’s graduate student enriched her academic and social life in many ways.  “It offered a lot more than I encountered at a small school like Geneseo,” she said. “I never had that big campus experience,” A former lacrosse player, she enjoyed attending games or student events like Spring Fling or Winter Carnival. 

“Whenever I came to campus before a test, I’d often see these events taking place,” she said. It was so great to experience that vibrant campus life.”