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Hofstra University Honors College

In Focus

Joseph Pawlowski

Have you been happy with your experience at Hofstra?
Hofstra has been at the center of my educational and social growth. Before attending Hofstra, I had my academic route planned out: four years of college, four years of medical school, residency and practice as a physician. I found that my plan, though still underway, did not follow such a strict path. Time brought unexpected challenges and unplanned opportunities that I am happy to have experienced.

Tell us about what you choose to study at Hofstra and why.
As a pre-medical student, my options for an undergraduate major were open, so I chose to study a field of personal interest - mathematics. Juggling my chosen major with my pre-medical requirements, university distribution requirements and Honors College curriculum was challenging at times, but a good exercise in self-discipline. Most importantly, I enjoyed my studies and took the time to experience many social aspects Hofstra had to offer.

What organizations were you a part of at Hofstra and how have they enhanced your experience?
 I was a member of The Cultural Italian-American Organization, The Chronicle, Pi Mu Epsilon mathematics honor society, Phi Delta Epsilon medical fraternity and the Association of Pre-Health Oriented Students. The resources at Hofstra challenged me to try new things, and helped me to find and refine many of my goals.

How did you learn about the Fulbright opportunity?
During my junior year, I attended an information session about the Fulbright program. I learned that Fulbright was an opportunity to conduct research overseas or to teach English to foreign students. Considering my interest in both biology and mathematics, I drafted an original research proposal that married my interests in these disciplines. Although the application process was time consuming and demanding, my desire to take part in my proposed project and participate in a cultural exchange compelled me to invest my time into what would become a life changing experience.

When did you find out you had been accepted for the Fulbright program?
October 2008 – success at last! For the next nine months I worked as a Fulbright Scholar at the Institute of Molecular Biology and Pathology of the National Research Council in Rome, Italy. With my mentors Dr. Patrizia Lavia, cell biologist, and Dr. Roberto Natalini, mathematician, I worked to mathematically model a biological process related to cancer research. I feel privileged to have worked among a group of established researchers, and to have networked with teams across Italy, with the purpose of bridging the gap between mathematics and biology.

Tell us about your experience in Rome.
Apart from the research aspect of my grant, having lived on my own in Rome, Italy is an achievement that I consider life changing. Though initially impeded by the language barrier, I remained calm and focused in the face of challenging and unfamiliar circumstances. It was a turning point from which I take a great deal of confidence, new ways of thinking, proficiency in the Italian language and a deep connection with my heritage. My grant may have ended, but not without affording me a second pair of eyes. I am still absorbing the enormity of it all.

How did Hofstra Honors College help you along the way?
I attribute my success as a Fulbright Scholar to the guidance that I received from Hofstra University faculty, my motivation to take part in a project of personal interest, and the support of my mentors in Italy. My Fulbright experience was an accomplishment that continues to shape my present.

What are your plans now?
 To attend medical school and would like to incorporate global medicine into my eventual career as a physician.

Joseph Pawlowski

May 2008
Biology Major
2008-09 Fulbright Scholar in Rome, Italy