The natural beauty of Alaska inspired Hayley Prelich in several ways. First, the undisturbed landscape and Pacific Coastline confirmed her interest in pursuing a career in biology with an environmental focus. Second, she realized that she needed to complete her education in order to meet those goals.

“I started out at another community college in New Jersey after graduating from Howell High School, but I wasn’t really sure what I wanted then,” said Prelich. After living in Alaska, Prelich returned to New Jersey and enrolled in Brookdale in 2018. With a renewed focus, Prelich has thrived at Brookdale in many ways and will graduate in May 2020 with an associate’s degree in biology.

With a renewed focus, Prelich has thrived at Brookdale in many ways and will graduate in May 2020 with an associate’s degree in biology.

“Brookdale has given me more opportunities than I had ever hoped for. Putting in hard work and time has paid off,” said Prelich, who resides in Ocean Grove, N.J.

She was named a NASA STEM Fellow for the 2019-2020 academic year and is doing research on harmful algal blooms in winter conditions at Sunset Lake in Asbury Park, N.J. and has taken on leadership roles as Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society president and co-president of the Biology Club. She is involved in many other clubs and activities on campus, including the Environmental Club, Math Club, Physics Club and Women in Engineering Science & Technology (W.E.S.T.).  With her fellow Biology Club members, Prelich is working on events and programming for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in April.

“Hayley is an amazing student with so much potential.  I am really excited to see how her career in science will evolve. Her talents are only matched by her enthusiasm for the sciences, especially marine biology.”

-Robert L. Gant, Biology Instructional Assistant & Adjunct Professor

Clubs on campus are a great way to establish connections, meet people who share your passions and increase your knowledge,” said Prelich. “Join a club and find out what you enjoy. You won’t regret it.”

Bob Gant and Hayley Prelich.
Biology Laboratory Instructor Bob Gant and Hayley Prelich in one of Brookdale’s biology labs.

Prelich cited Biology Lab Instructor and Adjunct Professor Bob Gant as someone who has been instrumental in advancing her career interests in biology. She worked closely with Gant on the 2019 Earth Day events.

“He taught me how to build bee houses out of water bottles,” said Prelich. “I then created a brochure on the steps, and we set up a table at the Earth Day display last year where students could stop by and create their own bee houses,” said Prelich. “He’s a great professor, always takes the extra step to help   students and his enthusiasm for biology has increased my curiosity to learn more.”

After graduating Brookdale, Prelich plans to earn her bachelor’s degree in biology at a four-year institution. She plans to pursue a doctorate in marine biology and expects her career to take her to the depths of the world’s oceans.

“I’ve always been enthralled by the bottom of the ocean, and I hope to one day get there,” said Prelich. “Whether it’s studying microorganisms, the lay of the land or evolution, I know that if I find my way down there, I’ll be happy.“

Given her obvious talents and drive, there’s no doubt she’ll make it there.