HACKETTSTOWN, NJ (Warren County) – Kevin Chroback of Califon delivered the valedictory address at the 146th commencement of Centenary University on Saturday, May 8, on the University’s Hackettstown campus. Centenary hosted two undergraduate ceremonies that day, at 9 am and 1 pm, with limited attendance due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. The valedictorian spoke at both events.
Chroback graduated with a perfect 4.0 grade point average and a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a minor in chemistry. He has been interested in science since childhood, when—like many young boys—he became interested in dinosaurs. “I wanted to be a paleontologist,” he explained. By the time Chroback enrolled at Centenary, science was still on the agenda. He briefly considered psychology, but after a student placement test, an advisor pointed him toward biology instead.
A graduate of North Hunterdon Regional High School, Chroback chose nearby Centenary because of its small size, which gave him the opportunity to work closely with professors, several of whom he met at an open house on campus. He recalled, “They seemed involved. That drew me to Centenary. From what I’ve seen of large schools, it’s not likely you can get the one-on-one experience I’ve gotten pretty consistently over my four years. All of my professors have been really helpful.”
Independent research has been instrumental in helping to shape Chroback’s career goals to work in a pharmaceutical lab before pursuing a master’s degree. The Dean’s List student, who is also a member of TriBeta, the biology honor society, worked with Associate Professor of Chemistry Adriana Dinescu, Ph.D., on 3-D computer modeling to discover qualities of a protein for which not much is understood. He recently presented his findings at a virtual symposium sponsored by the American Chemical Society. The research interests him because it’s like working on a puzzle. “I’d like to shed light on an unknown topic and put another piece in the puzzle,” he explained.
Julie A. LaBar, Ph.D., assistant professor of environmental science and director of the Centenary University Center for Sustainability, was instrumental in Chroback’s internship last summer at Bloomsbury-based QuVa Pharma, a national FDA-registered 503B outsourcing services company that provides hospitals with essential medications in ready-to-administer injectable formats that are critical for effective patient care. The experience provided him with firsthand insight into the pharmaceutical industry. Chroback learned about all phases of the industry, from material prepping and quality control to shipping and receiving. He currently holds a part-time job at the firm, working in a quality control lab and also with the facilities department as the company prepares to open a new building. After graduation, Chroback plans to work in a pharmaceutical laboratory before eventually moving on to a master’s program.
With commencement completed, Chroback now sees his four years at Centenary as pivotal in shaping his career goals. While he didn’t start his Centenary career seeking a perfect GPA, Chroback worked hard and made sure to enjoy his college journey: “It’s easier to study if you’re having fun with what you’re learning.”