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College and Careers? These Graduates Have It Down to a Science

College and Careers? These Graduates Have It Down to a Science

Last Friday, Canterbury welcomed two alumnae back to campus to speak with students from the Advanced Placement (AP) courses in Biology and Chemistry. Erika Lowman ’17 and Jenna Trezza ’18 were eager to share their insights and experiences navigating college and the science field.

As a Chemist for Integra LifeSciences in Princeton, New Jersey, Erika uses analytical chemistry methods to characterize the products they make at each step of the manufacturing process. Her group specifically tests collagen products on-site such as a synthetic skin for patients with severe skin trauma and a product that advances nerve healing.

After graduating from Canterbury, Erika enrolled at Western New England University in Springfield, Massachusetts, to play field hockey and join the Chemistry program. “I played field hockey for two years and then devoted all my time to academics after that,” she said. “Organic Chemistry was my favorite class; I loved the lab!”

She certainly made the most of her time as a student at Western New England. During her studies, she worked as a General Chemistry Laboratory Teaching Assistant and as a Laboratory Assistant for the College of Pharmacy.

Jenna’s path took a few twists and turns along the way. After starting in pre-med at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, she decided to switch to an Evolutionary Biology Major. “I had a nonlinear experience in college,” she recalled. “The new major involved a great deal of ecology studies and research. I never thought I would find myself in research.” 

And yet, today, Jenna is an Assistant Research Coordinator at Connecticut Eye Consultants, supporting the development and implementation of clinical trials and studies related to ophthalmology and vision care. “Sometimes opportunities just fall into your lap,” she added. “I am learning so much and enjoying it.”

Science Teacher Sally Ruderman was pleased that her AP Biology students heard from two accomplished professionals who were once in their shoes. “Erika and Jenna shared their experiences with changing majors, taking extremely challenging classes and labs, and finding and following their passion within the sciences,” Sally said. “It is so valuable for current students to connect with past ones. My current AP Bio students were able to ask questions about college courses, the speakers’ personal interests in the field, and how they got where they are today.”

It was indeed valuable for AP Bio student Patrice Masterson ’25. “They gave great advice for when we go to college, helping us realize what it takes to go from a small school like Canterbury to a larger school,” she said. “I appreciated hearing the contrast between a biology and chemistry focus and how their jobs led them back to what they are passionate about. They were both so genuine and great examples of women in science.”