Prospective Students

Umutesi Ruranga

  • Graduation Year: 2017

Umutesi RurangaMajor(s) and Minor: Cognitive Neuroscience (Major), Biological Sciences (Minor)

Year: 2017

Why did you choose Cog Sci as your major?

I chose Cognitive Neuroscience as my major because it did the best job at combining my two major interests. I have always loved Biology, and especially Neuroscience. When I found out that the Center for Cognitive Science offered this major, it was as if it was perfectly matched to my interests.

What did you like most about it?

I love how this major aligns the abstract models and theories of cognition with the scientific and neurological aspects of neural pathways in the brain. I think that there is a lot to learn from the abstract and scientific/concrete sides of cognition and psychology.

What is your current position, what do you, and what do you enjoy most about it?

Right now I am a graduate student studying at Seton Hall University. I am studying to become a Licensed Professional Counselor through a Masters degree program. I really enjoy learning techniques for how to interact with clients in an effective way. There are many places to apply what I learned through my Cognitive Neuroscience major in the field of professional counseling.

What was your first job after Rutgers and how did you get it?

My first job at Rutgers was as a research assistant in the Firestein lab on Busch campus. I was directed to apply to the lab by a professor I had for fundamentals of neuroscience.

How did you move from that first job to your current position?

I had the experience during my sophomore year at Rutgers, so it was not a direct transition to my life now as a graduate student. However, it did help me learn first-hand about the research process and I was exposed to the lifestyle of graduate students.

Looking back, what classes or experiences at Rutgers would you point to as contributing to your successes?

At Rutgers, the most influential experiences I had were the ones where material about cognition, neuroscience, and philosophy all connected in some way. In the class Minds, Machines, and Persons it was fascinating to see connections with things I learned in fundamentals of neuroscience. The courses that I took to complete my degree in Cognitive Neuroscience meshed together seamlessly and the three components that existed within those courses benefited my academic experience. They helped me to look for more connections to cognition, neuroscience, and philosophy within the field of counseling.

What advice do you have for our current Arts and Sciences students?

For current students, my best piece of advice is to try out new things and do not ignore the feeling of falling in love with a topic. Whatever you find yourself engaged in during class, follow it. Even if there seems to be no major out there to accommodate you, there probably is or something very close. In addition, don't be afraid of double majoring or taking on a minor if it will allow you to study your passion.


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