Senior spotlights: Seniors share about Ramapo experiences

Photo courtesy of Ramapo College

Jenna Vesey

Navigating college, keeping up with school work and staying active on campus are not simple tasks. Senior Jenna Vesey, however, makes it look easy. As a bioinformatics major with a minor in neuroscience, she has a lot under her belt here at Ramapo but continues to spread positivity and kindness throughout her busiest days. 

Vesey has been the treasurer of Ramapo’s Disney Club since her sophomore year, has been co-president of Dumbledore’s Army for the past two years after starting off as a sergeant-at-arms freshman year and taking on the role of treasurer sophomore year, has helped restart WRPR and is their treasurer until she graduates, started the Trading Card Game Club and now serves as their vice president, has been a Resident Assistant since her sophomore year, and has been doing lab research since sophomore year with Dr. Joost Monen.

When asked what she specifically was most proud of, Vesey stated, “I think it depends on different aspects of my college career. I’m very proud of the lab work I’ve done with Dr. Monen. It’s been a big part of my identity.”

When she started out at Ramapo, Vesey was a pre-med student but ended up falling in love with research. This led her to gain an internship at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and the research she did there earned an award.

A lot of her positive thoughts on her experience at Ramapo are attributed to the people she has met. Aside from Monen and all his help, Vesey mentioned that “a lot of the friends and people [she’s] met [have] inspired [her] to be better and think more critically.”

Even with all of these commendable qualities, Vesey said that if she were to be remembered for something, she wants to be remembered as “someone who cared and was kind.”

“At the end of the day, there are plenty of smart people who do plenty of smart things… that’s great… but at the same time, I think how you treat people and what you put out into the world comes back to you,” Vesey said. 

After graduation, Vesey plans on attending graduate school to pursue a career in genetics or bioinformatics research.


Photo submitted by James Jackson

James Jackson

When senior James Jackson arrived on campus after a completely virtual freshman year, he was determined to get as involved as possible.

“If COVID didn’t happen, I probably would have been sitting in my room all four years and [there] would [be] a lot less to talk about, but I genuinely think that, because it was such a motivator for me,” he said in an interview with The Ramapo News.

Jackson has earned himself an impressive resume over the past few years. He is the president of the Global Roadrunner Program and the Indoor Soccer Club, has been a Peer Facilitator for two years, worked at the Jane Addams Papers Project for a year and is a member of the Honors Program. Most importantly to him, he forged “unforgettable friendships” through his on-campus involvement.

Jackson began at Ramapo with his major undecided and even considered transferring at one point but stayed because of the connections he made with professors and the academic flexibility Ramapo offers.

“I feel like that really gave me opportunities that I wouldn’t have had and got me recognition that I would not have gotten at [bigger schools],” he said. “Staying here has given me so much more than I would have from going anywhere else.”

After a brief stint in nursing, Jackson found his way to the history major and tacked on a psychology minor, too. His studies helped him uncover his interest in urban planning, which he plans to pursue in graduate school.

He cited his study abroad experiences as his favorite memories of Ramapo, though. He spent a month in Scotland after his sophomore year and the Spring 2023 semester in Greece, where he studied the development of Athens following the 19th century Greek Revolution for his Honors senior project.

Jackson now stands at a crossroads for post-graduate plans as he must choose between a potential job opportunity with the Bergen County Planning Commission and a service opportunity with AmeriCorps that would send him to Mississippi for 11 months.

“There’s lots of opportunities out there, and that’s the thing about humanities, too… you can do anything, which is overwhelming and also kind of reassuring,” he said.


Photo by Jessica Hammer

Maya Peacock

Senior Maya Peacock has been busy on campus from leading team business projects to conducting research. She is a mathematics major getting ready to complete her undergraduate degree and will complete her 4+1 in data science at Ramapo next year.

Peacock has been the president of Entrepreneurial Action for Us (ENACTUS) since her sophomore year. ENACTUS is an international nonprofit organization that works with business leaders in higher education. The aim is to help mobilize college students into making a difference in their communities, and Peacock has assisted in doing just that.

“We came up with this prototype to be able to make these eco-friendly bobbers out of bamboo,” said Peacock. She added that her team was able to submit the project to ENACTUS’ national competition. Peacock gives credit for the idea to Ramapo alum Leah Carratura, who observed an issue with an overgrowth of invasive bamboo and excessive river pollution due to lost plastic fishing bobbers. 

“We actually ended up winning the competition, and let me tell you… my favorite was seeing our screen on the board,” said Peacock. “That whole memory is definitely something engraved in my head that I’ll keep with me forever.”

Peacock views this as one of her biggest accomplishments at Ramapo, along with conducting research for conferences.

Peacock is also a Japanese tutor and student aid, in the pep band, and has hands in Dumbledore’s Army, WRPR and Women in Business.

With Peacock’s success also came challenges, like finding the perfect balance between her academics and her social and personal life. She expressed that academics are important but focusing too much on that can become problematic.

“As an introvert myself, I need my own personal… time,” said Peacock. “Having a nice mix between academic, personal and social is obviously my hardest challenge here as a college student, but I think I’ve managed.”

Peacock has a love for numbers but didn’t limit herself to one subject. By branching out, Peacock discovered that she has a love for data science and found her place among her friends at Ramapo.

“Doing what I love and loving what I do is what I want to be remembered by,” said Peacock.


Photo submitted by Anna Kozan

Anna Kozan

Senior Anna Kozan is the unique kind of student who is a jack-of-all-trades and has mastered them all, too. As a double major in nursing and Spanish language studies, Kozan has balanced a lot throughout her four years at Ramapo, including being on the Spanish Club e-board and in the Ramapo College Dance Company, but has excelled regardless.

Tackling a second major while in nursing was a challenge in itself. Nursing students devote their junior and senior years to clinical rotations and therefore can’t take any classes outside the major.

“When I started to embark on the Spanish major journey, I knew that I had to get in all of those classes before junior year even started, so it was like doing a major plus gen eds just in freshman and sophomore year,” Kozan said in an interview with The Ramapo News.

The heavy course load was well worth it for Kozan, who is passionate about how language and healthcare intersect. She has seen this intersection at play during her clinical rotations, sharing a memory of when she played with a young boy in the hospital who only spoke Spanish.

“The mother walked up to me afterwards and she said, ‘Thank you so much. This whole time people have just walked past my son. They haven’t taken the time to actually interact with him… just because we speak a different language than them,’” she said.

Kozan will continue pursuing her passion through post-graduate research. She recently became the first Roadrunner to receive the Fulbright-Nehru Open Study/Research Award and will travel to India in August to continue her studies of language barriers and healthcare. She said she’s drawn to India because of its linguistic diversity as it has two national languages, 22 official languages in its constitution and hundreds of regional dialects. 

“I thought it would be very interesting, being that providers are trained in English, to see if patients are actually able to communicate with their providers and how does that affect their care…  and maybe be able to brainstorm some ways to make it a little bit better,” she said. “I love that I was able to incorporate what I actually learned from my major into that.”