Nicholas Cerniglia - Choose Stockton

Nicholas Cerniglia

Nicholas Cerniglia

Class of 2023
Major: Psychology
Hometown: Pompton Plains, New Jersey

Why did you choose Stockton?

I chose Stockton largely for its low faculty-student ratio, campus size and campus location. Upon touring Stockton for the first time, I knew being in the heart of the Pine Barrens was just the right thing for me. Even now, there’s nothing I enjoy more than walking the trails. 

How did you choose your major?

Choosing one is easy, but loving one is different. I always had interests and ideas of where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do, but I never knew how to get there. I changed my major several times over the course of two years: from Biology to Health Sciences, to undecided and then to Communication Studies.

Choosing my major has been a bumpy road, but ultimately, I found the major best suited for me two years into college. After many visits to career advising and academic advising, I was able to settle down and choose Psychology, which has mapped out so well with my interests and ambitions.

What have you gotten out of your academic program so far?

I think the most significant point in my college career so far has been getting involved in Dr. Helena Girgis’s Children’s Learning Lab. I was able to assist her as a research assistant in a remarkable project she ran with and Dr. Merydawilda Colon, which aims to assess the residents of Stanley Holmes, one of the oldest public housing complexes in New Jersey, and their needs to increase better outcomes in education, health and employment.

Another highlight was having the opportunity to develop my own independent research project under the supervision and mentorship of Dr. Girgis and Dr. Marcello Spinella. I was interested in comparing the efficacy of low-cost, time-efficient and effective tools, such as meditation and journaling, to improve people’s psychological well-being.  

Since then, I’ve gained significant experience in research and collected valuable information to aid in the discussion and implementation of these practices. This research project enabled me to present our findings at the annual Association for Psychological Science convention in Washington, D.C., and at Stockton’s Day of Scholarship. I really enjoyed sharing our findings and discussing them with professionals and other scientists in these fields of study. 

What other opportunities have you had at Stockton?

Upon arriving at Stockton, I was looking for federal work-study opportunities and saw that the Bonner Program provided just that. This program encouraged me to get involved with community partners and build capacity within each of these organizations. Since then, I’ve had remarkable experiences volunteering with the Eastern Service Workers Association and Big Brothers Big Sisters. I was also named Stockton’s 2022 Campus Compact Civic Newman Fellow and attended their national conference in Boston in my junior year.

Besides my professional accomplishments, I joined on-campus clubs (Rock Climbing Club, Billiards Club and Chess Club) and connected with faculty and staff members who have been imperative to my development. Whether I’m just asking for help on an assignment or asking larger questions related to connecting their course to the real world, they have been able to assist me. 

How is Stockton preparing you for the next stage of your life?

Stockton is preparing me for the next chapter of my life by providing me the opportunity to enhance and refine my skills. Stockton’s outdoor campus has inspired me to connect and enjoy with others, especially while walking around campus or on dark paths. 

What advice do you have for students thinking about attending Stockton?

  • Embracing the things that you don’t know is the first step to learning. Stockton’s staff and faculty know either how to help or who to direct you to for help.

  • Spend time outdoors taking a walk around the lake when you have a break between classes!

  • Start conversations with people anywhere you go. You’ll meet interesting people, but Stockton has a safe, comfortable environment that makes for a great place to socialize.

  • Join clubs! The Rock Climbing Club grew to be my favorite club on campus. I met amazing people and had an unforgettable experience. And, if you’re a first-generation student, join First Ospreys! They truly do provide all the advice I found necessary to encourage and promote first-generation student growth.