Alumni Retrospective: Elise Ferencevych, ‘82


Elise Ferencevych, ‘82

For this alumni retrospective I interviewed my aunt, Elise Ferencevych, who graduated from Moravian College as Elise McCarthy. Ferencevych grew up in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey; she now resides in Albany, New York, where she is an educator for a non-profit capital called Capital Roots. She teaches a 5-part program called “Taste Good” to students in Pre-K to second grade in Albany schools, introducing them to fruits and vegetables in a fun, interactive way. 

When did you graduate from Moravian and what was your major? 

I graduated in 1982 with a B.S. in biology.

How did you come by your early interest in biology?

My early interest in biology stemmed from an early interest in nature. I loved to walk, hike, camp, etc., and was captivated in particular by plants and ecology. I also developed an early interest in sustainability (it wasn’t called that then!) and paying attention to the health of the planet.

How did your experience here prepare you for your career? 

Moravian’s biology program allowed me to pursue my interest in biology, although I was not sure where the degree would take me. After some years, which included marriage, two children, and exploring various career paths, I came back to biology. I got a master’s in teaching and taught high school biology at Dumont High School in Dumont, New Jersey, for 16 years.

What advice do you have for future teachers of biology?

I would advise [them] to always think in terms of a) making content relevant to students, which is relatively easy to do in a course that is the science of life; b) creating analogies, personification, mnemonics, graphic organizers, visuals, etc. for biology topics, especially the hard ones like protein synthesis, photosynthesis, and cellular respiration; c) seeking out good video clips and interactives online for virtually all topics, and d) finding good labs, then trying them and modifying as required by your course or your students. Also, creating colorful and fun review games in preparation for tests and/or quizzes is always useful.

What was your favorite course that you took at this school?

My favorite course at Moravian was an independent study course I completed on seed germination with Dr. Bevington.

What aspects of Moravian College stood out to you from the rest of the schools you were considering at the time?

I loved Moravian’s physical campus, including its new science building (no, not the Sally). I also liked the size in terms of the number of students and smaller class sizes. I was impressed with everyone I met at Moravian, starting with the recruitment person at my high school (I still remember that her name was Lynn), followed by all administrative people and professors I met while I was considering my options.

If you could go back to Moravian, what would you do differently?

I believe I would have taken advantage of the forestry program, which was in collaboration with a university in North Carolina, and led to a master’s degree. I was part of a Christian Fellowship group at Moravian that met on Friday nights, but I don’t remember the exact name of the group. I would have added a service club, yoga, or tai chi and some type of regular outdoor group activity like hiking. I would also have considered participating in an environmental club or organization either on campus or with a local chapter of a national organization.