Montclair University Students Exposed to All Salus Has to Offer
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Montclair University Students Exposed to All Salus Has to Offer

Yogi Berra used to say, “It ain’t over til it’s over.” But for some students from Montclair State University (MSU), it may just be starting.

Montclair visit Pic1A group from MSU visited Salus University July 22, 2022, to tour the Elkins Park, Pennsylvania campus and hear about the various health science programs Salus offers. And, many of them came away impressed with what they saw and now considering Salus as a graduate school option.

The highlights of the Salus visit for the MSU students included a tour of the virtual reality lab provided by Melissa Trego, OD ‘04, Resident ‘09, PhD, dean of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) at Salus University; details on the Blindness and Low Vision (BLVS) program by Emily Vasile, MAT, TVI, MS ‘16, CLVTMS, assistant professor; the Occupational Therapy experience from students Stephanie Brossmann ‘23OT and Samantha Powell ‘23OT; a Physician Assistant Studies advanced clinical skills demonstration vascular lab focused on venipuncture, inserting and starting IVs and performing arterial blood gasses (ABGs);a look at the University’s newest program, Orthotics and Prosthetics (O&P) by Chad Duncan, PhD, CRC, CPO, program director; details on the Doctor of Audiology program by Radhika Aravamudhan, PhD, dean of the Osborne College of Audiology and Jonette Owen, AuD, FNAP, CH-AP; and an interactive demonstration by Robert Serianni, MS, CCC-SLP, FNAP, chair and program director of the Speech-Language Pathology program.

Montclair visit pic2"The virtual reality lab was really cool. I’ve never seen anything like it and it really inspired me,” said incoming Montclair senior Natalia Garita, who is majoring in Sociology with the hopes of becoming an optometrist. “I know I’ll get a good education at Salus that will prepare me. It’s also a very pretty campus, I love all the greenery. And, the staff seems like it wants everybody to do well, which I love.”

According to Monica Scirrotto, MS, director of Admissions at Salus, her office has been welcoming students from the MSU Health Careers Program (HCP) for more than 20 years. This program provides highly motivated and academically capable students from financially and educationally disadvantaged backgrounds an opportunity to explore health professions opportunities and prepare them for admission into graduate/professional degree programs. Students who participate are typically entering their freshman year of undergraduate education. 

After a two-year hiatus because of the pandemic, Salus was able to bring back the MSU students to showcase what Salus programs have to offer.

Montclair visit pic3“The purpose of the visit is to expose these students to health professions they may have not known about or are considering,” said Scirrotto. “We designed the program to be interactive with faculty and students giving hands-on demonstrations and teaching about each profession they represent. The goal is to plant a seed about their options in health careers and, hopefully, one day bring them back as students in one of our academic programs, while also increasing diversity at our institution.”

Melanie Cedeno, an incoming junior majoring in Biochemistry at MSU, liked the optometry and speech-language pathology (SLP) demonstrations.

“I knew there was more to optometry than just glasses and contacts but I didn’t know that through the eye, you can tell more about the person’s health,” she said. “And, I liked the SLP demonstration because it was interactive and they actually work with cadavers.”

For Gabriela Cuellodevios, an incoming freshman at MSU planning to major in Biology, the Salus visit was her first introduction to healthcare fields.

Montclair visit pic4​“I was excited to visit the school because I’ve never really seen a medical school of any kind. It made me excited to see other opportunities out there,” said Cuellodevios, who is considering a career as a physician assistant, nurse or nurse practitioner.

Chelsea Rushing, an academic advisor in the HCP at Montclair, said during the pandemic, students didn’t have the opportunity to visit other institutions for shadowing and clinical experiences.

“A majority of our student population are first-generation and low-income students, so they come from under-represented communities in medicine as well as other industries,” said Rushing. “Our students were very engaged and excited. I think exposure is everything. Even some students who thought they knew what they wanted to do may have changed their minds today.”

Berra, the Hall of Fame catcher for the New York Yankees made even more famous by his odd sayings, called “Yogi-isms,” was a resident of Montclair and supporter of MSU. Its baseball field, Yogi Berra Stadium, is named for him and includes the adjoining Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center.