March 30, 2021

Centenary University Graduate Bound for Columbia University

Washington Township resident Katie Zack says Centenary has prepared her for Ivy League graduate program and a career in environmental policy.

HACKETTSTOWN, NJ, March 29, 2021—In March 2020, Centenary University’s Katie Zack was packed and ready to embark on a trip to Guyana as a member of the Peace Corp. The pandemic abruptly ended her dream.

An environmental science major, the Washington Township (Warren County) resident soon regrouped and begin exploring her options with the assistance of Julie LaBar, Ph.D., assistant professor of environmental science and director of the Centenary University Center for Sustainability. Now, Zack is bound for Columbia University, where she will pursue a master’s degree in climate and society at the Ivy League university’s new Climate School.

The recipient of an associate degree from Warren County Community College, Zack completed her Centenary studies in December 2019 and was a member of the University’s Class of 2020. She was first drawn to Centenary’s environmental science program for its emphasis on “hard sciences” like organic chemistry and toxicology, as well as policy-based courses such as global sustainability. “Centenary has such a well-rounded program, with faculty who really want you to succeed in life,” said Zack, who took part in Midnight Run, environmental cleanups, and a Soles4Souls service trip to Guatemala while enrolled at Centenary. In addition to Dr. LaBar, she credited Lauren Bergey, Ph.D., professor of biology and dean of special academic programs, and Krassi Lazarova, Ph.D., chair of the Science Department and associate professor of physics, with helping to shape her graduate school and career goals.

A Dean’s List student, Zack is planning a career in environmental policy for a nonprofit or a government agency like the U.S. Department of State or National Park Service. She added, “Environmental science is such a broad field, and Centenary really helps you to figure out what route you want to take. I think that has definitely given me an edge.”

Bruce Murphy, Ed.D., president of Centenary University, earned a master’s degree from Columbia University. He said, “Katie’s acceptance to Columbia speaks to her persistence and resilience, as well as the excellence of Centenary University’s environmental science program. We’re very proud of her accomplishment as she joins a number of Centenary alumni who have gone on to achieve prestigious graduate school placements.”



Founded in 1867 by the Newark Conference of the United Methodist Church, Centenary University’s academic program integrates a solid liberal arts foundation with a strong career orientation. This mix provides an educational experience that prepares students to succeed in the increasingly global and interdependent world. The University’s main campus is located in Hackettstown, N.J., with its equestrian facility in Washington Township. The Centenary University School of Professional Studies offers degree programs in Parsippany, as well as online and at corporate sites throughout New Jersey.