A Quest for Knowledge: Rutgers–Camden Graduate Finds Passion in Teaching and Learning Biochemistry

Gina Disalvo is graduating from Rutgers-Camden with a bachelor's degree in chemistry.

Gina Disalvo is graduating from Rutgers-Camden with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry.

Knowledge is something that Gina Disalvo wants to both attain and provide.

If there’s anything the Rutgers University–Camden student enjoys more than learning, it might be teaching.

“I think I’m a little addicted to school at this point,” Disalvo says with a laugh.

Disalvo, a Washington Township resident, is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry during the Rutgers–Camden College of Arts and Sciences commencement ceremony on May 19. But her Rutgers–Camden journey isn’t over just yet.

This summer, Disalvo will continue to perform research with Jinglin Fu, an assistant professor of chemistry at Rutgers–Camden, and in the fall, she’ll begin pursuing her master’s degree in chemistry at Rutgers–Camden while serving as a teaching assistant to undergraduates.

“I’ve always loved to teach,” she says. “I always kind of fell into that role and I’m excited to share what I’ve learned. It’s going to be exciting to watch students understand these concepts.”

A chemistry degree hadn’t always been in Disalvo’s plans, however. After graduating from Camden County College and working for two years as a veterinary technician in Williamstown, she decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree in biology and become a veterinarian.

“I was on this path where I wanted to complete my degree and get into veterinary school, but somewhere in the middle of all that, I decided to pursue biochemistry,” Disalvo says. “I liked the chemistry courses I was taking and I liked the faculty here, so I switched tracks.”

It was a decision she wouldn’t regret.

In order to complete her degree in two years, Disalvo took courses during Rutgers–Camden’s summer and winter sessions, while also working part time and performing research on enzyme stability in Fu’s lab. Additionally, Disalvo came to Rutgers–Camden just five months after the birth of her daughter, Katrina.

“I started back at school and I was a single mother, so it was challenging,” she says. “But I did it knowing that in the end, it was going to be about showing her that I didn’t just settle for what I was doing. I wanted to accomplish more and I want to show her that it’s possible no matter what life puts in front of you.”

Disalvo is unsure of where her new path will lead, but the passion she has for teaching and learning drives her.

“I’m an open book I’m not going to limit my potential,” she says. “There’s a need for more STEM teachers out there. I’ll have a master’s in chemistry and a lot of research experience, so I’m setting myself up for something good.”

“I feel like I’ve just reached the tip of the iceberg,” she says. There’s so much more to learn.”

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