Toxicology Major Excels in the Classroom and on the Playing Field
Angela Saric had just pitched a no-hit shutout for the girls’ softball team at Indian Hills High School in Oakland, NJ, when opportunity knocked.
“I was a junior and had no idea which direction I wanted to go when it came to college,” she recalled.
But soon after the game, the head coach at the time for the Red Storm Softball team at St. John’s University invited Angela to tour the campus in Queens, NY.
“My first official visit to St. John’s was overwhelming,” Angela reflected. “I was in awe of the University’s diversity. I saw the interaction of various cultures and how many kinds of people come together at St. John’s—that sealed my commitment.”
Angela has been pitching for the softball team since her freshman year in 2018; she is expected to graduate in May with a Bachelor of Science degree in Toxicology from the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. Highlights of her college career include being named among 224 St. John’s student-athletes to the 2020–21 BIG EAST All-Academic Team. She also earned distinction as one of 13 student-athletes who earned a perfect 4.0 grade point average for the Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 semesters.
Angela originally enrolled as a biology major. But opportunity came calling again, this time in her biology lab class, where she engaged in an informal conversation with Jai Dwivedi, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences, St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
As Dr. Dwivedi observed the class and assisted with the lab, Angela shared her dreams of applying her longtime passion for science to a career as a lawyer specializing in medical law. She explained to him that she is also considering a career devoted to forensic justice, which involves the analysis of evidence from crime scenes.
“Within that 20-minute conversation,” Angela said, “Dr. Dwivedi helped me discover that the toxicology program was exactly where I needed to be to achieve all of the educational goals I have set for myself.”
“Even though I never took a class taught by Dr. Dwivedi, he changed my career direction,” Angela said. “I credit him for helping me find the right path.”
She also credits Diane Hardej, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Toxicology, CPHS, as a major source of inspiration. “Not only did I learn about toxicology, Dr. Hardej taught me how to learn, how to listen, and that being a student does not stop once you leave the classroom.”
“Being a student athlete and managing to maintain high academic standards is difficult enough – doing so during a global pandemic is even more so,” said Dr. Hardej. “Angela was always in online class with a smile and a thirst for knowledge. I admire her enthusiasm for learning and life.”
Despite her rigorous academic and sports schedule, Angela carves out time for participating in service activities at St. John’s. She is involved in the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), which offers service opportunities for student-athletes throughout the academic year.
For the past two years as a committee member, Angela helped organize the HEADstrong Foundation’s Last Shift Virtual 5K, which raises funds for cancer patients. “In 2020, the 5K was conducted at home due to the pandemic; we were still able to raise a significant amount to help patients offset the costs of their care,” she said.
Angela said she is grateful for the way her time at St. John’s has broadened her world.
“I have faced so many opportunities, challenges, and experiences that I never thought I would encounter,” she said. “I have traveled with the softball team throughout the country, discovered New York from a different perspective, and met people from so many cultures. I have developed lifelong friendships, played the sport I love, and made many memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life.”