Biology and Catholic studies major learned to trust the process at SHU

Samantha Pettigrew graduated from Seton Hall University in 2014 with a B.S. in biology and B.A in Catholic studies, with a minor in philosophy and a certificate for completion of the University Honors Program.

She is currently a fourth-year medical student at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and is expected to graduate in May.

Samantha Pettigrew hopes to work in cardiology or pulmonary/critical care, but understands that sometimes students don’t know what they are doing or where they’re meant to go.
Photo courtesy of Samantha Pettigrew

She has recently finished attending interviews for Internal Medicine Residency Programs. She plans to specialize in either cardiology or pulmonary/critical care. Pettigrew will find out where she will be going for her residency on March 16, which is known as national match day.
Heping Zhou, an associate professor in the department of biological sciences and Pettigrew’s former professor, commented on her work ethic.

“Sam did very well in my General Biology class,” Zhou said. “She was ranked top 10 percent of the class. She was mature, hard-working, socially responsible, and very pleasant to work with.”

Pettigrew reflected on the lessons she learned as a student at Seton Hall. It “was the place where I learned that I can’t always be correct, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing,” Pettigrew said.

“One professor in particular, Dr. Ahr, would ask questions in class that he knew would challenge us, confuse us, and spark discussion. I have always had a fairly black and white view of things,” she said.

“There is a right answer and a wrong answer, and I wanted to be correct. Honors, and particularly Dr. Ahr, taught me that being wrong could sometimes be the best thing that can happen to you, because you get to learn about someone else’s take on things,” Pettigrew said. “Often, it is a great idea, and one you never would have thought of on your own.”

Roberta Moldow, professor of biological sciences, director of Health Professions Advisory Program and Pettigrew’s former premed adviser, offered Pettigrew advice while she was a student at SHU.

“I’m sure Sam will continue to be successful as she pursues a career in internal medicine after graduating from medical school this spring,” Moldow said. “My advice would be to continue to blend compassion and intelligence.”

Pettigrew offered all students who hope to attend medical school advice on how to balance their lives and find outlets for their stress.
“There are going to be times when you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing. This is normal, and it is very likely that everyone around you is experiencing the same,” Pettigrew said.

Pettigrew also said that it is important to have an outlet to let out frustrations, even if it is a family member, friend, or even a professor you trust. She added that trusting the process is essential, even if it doesn’t come easy.

“It’s also important to make sure you have a life outside of medicine. There is always something to study, a board exam coming up, volunteer work, or research projects you should catch up on,” Pettigrew said.

She said that despite all their commitments, students should take time for themselves to keep their spirits up.

“Seton Hall helped me become the person I am today,” Pettigrew said. “I’m so thankful for the friends I made, experiences I gained, and lessons I learned there. I look back on my memories of SHU very fondly.”

Rhania Kamel can be reached at

Author: Staff Writer

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