Hawks Hired! Cassandra Cerasia ’23

Hawks Hired highlights the accomplishments of RWU graduates as they finalize the next steps in their career journeys. Cassandra is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of Rhode Island. Read on to learn more about her next chapter since graduation.

What was your program of study at RWU? I had three majors at RWU, which were Marine Biology, Chemistry, and Aquaculture and Aquarium Science, and a minor in Public and Professional Writing.

Graduation year? I graduated from RWU in May 2023.

Where is your next adventure? (Company/School and Role) This fall I began my Ph.D. at the University of Rhode Island in Biology and Environmental Science with a specialization in Marine Biology and Evolution. I am currently studying how multiple coastal stressors, such as low salinity, low pH, and hypoxia, structure the population connectivity and microevolution of eastern oyster Crassostrea virginica populations.

What are you most looking forward to in this new role? I am most excited to further my education and develop the skills needed to be a great scientist. I am looking forward to learning in a very hands-on way by spending most of my time in the lab managing a scientific research project. I am also excited to collect and analyze data and hopefully present my results at many conferences during my graduate career.

What was the process like of landing this job/next opportunity? Applying to graduate school is a long process, and it is a bit different for marine biology compared to other fields. Before you can apply, you must typically first reach out to potential advisors and have a conversation over email or a virtual meeting to see if they have an opening and if you would be a good fit for the lab. If it seems like you’d be a good fit, they then encourage you to apply to the university. Once you submit your application, which typically consists of a personal statement, essay questions, and a CV, you will usually have a formal interview with your advisor and then hopefully hear good news!

Who helped you during your job search/graduate school process? My research mentor at RWU truly helped me a lot during the entire application process, from helping me email potential advisors to reviewing my personal statement. I also went to my advisor at the CCPD to have my personal statement and CV reviewed multiple times. In addition to this, I had many science faculty members read my personal statement and provide me with feedback that truly helped me put forward my best application.

What advice do you have to students who are in the process of finding a job/going to graduate School? I would tell students to start the process early. Deadlines for graduate school applications come up quickly and the earlier you start, the more drafts of your resume and personal statement you can have looked at. Have as many people review these drafts as you can! The drafting process is so important, and the more drafts you can write and receive feedback on, the better your application will be. I would also recommend practicing interview skills if you have an interview as part of this process. I practiced a lot, and it made my interview process much easier.

Want to share your next steps with the CCPD? Email Kevin (kdeeb@rwu.edu) in the CCPD to learn more about sharing with us!

By Maisie Jelley
Maisie Jelley Career Advisor