Deena Rahhal, who graduated from Rutgers University–Newark with a 4.0 GPA this month, is a self-professed people person and lover of all things STEM.
In fact, Rahhal has loved science and math—anything STEM-related—ever since she can remember. In high School she participated in the Future Health Professionals of America program, thinking she wanted to become a doctor or dentist.
So, it’s no surprise that the Woodland Park NJ, native, who grew up speaking Arabic and English at home, arrived at RU-N 2017 as a Chemistry major before switching to Biology, with Math and Chemistry as minors.
“I am greatly interested in understanding the connection between physical surrounding and their biological compositions,” said Rahhal. “I selected my minor in Mathematics because I am very passionate about the subject, and I enjoy its relationship with biology.”
Rahhal took full advantage of all that RU-N has to offer during her four years here, immersing herself in what she calls the team-based learning courses in the Biology department, which promoted not only academic growth but also social skills that she believes will be vital in many settings.
She also worked as a Teaching Assistant for the Physics department, assisting Professor Diane Jammula with her 200-student Physics I course in fall 2018, and served as a Peer Learning Assistant in spring 2018 for a 100-student Ecology and Evolution course taught at NJIT by Professor Caroline Devan.
Rutgers-Newark really opens doors for students to explore whatever it is that they are interested in.
In summer 2018 Rahhal joined the lab of Chemistry Professor Roger Lalancette as an Undergraduate Research Assistant, gaining hands-on experience designing and conducting experiments in crystallography, the study of how atoms are arranged in crystal materials like quartz to understand the relationship between the atomic structure and properties of these materials.
The following year, Rahhal was a scholar in Rutgers New Jersey Medical School’s six-week Summer Health Professions Education Program, engaging in pre-professional team-building exercises; shadowing fourth-year dental students; and taking courses in Anatomy & Physiology, Biochemistry, Biostatistics among others.
Along the way, Rahhal participated in the RU-N Pre-Health Program’s Project All Dental Club and Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) club, volunteered at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Paterson, NJ, for two years, and received both the Anna and Bernard Senkowski and Newark Chancellor Scholarships.
Rahhal will attend Columbia University’s College of Dental Medicine in the fall. She looks forward to having her own practice and giving back to her community by serving disadvantaged areas that are in need of oral care. She also can't wait to give back to RU-N by funding scholarships for students like herself.
“Rutgers-Newark really opens doors for students to explore whatever it is that they are interested in,” said Rahhal. “The professors and staff are such a great help, and because of the diversity, the school prepares its students to be able to mingle with people of all different races, cultures and ethnicities. This is something that I am so proud to have been a part of.”