Alumni Spotlights

Dr. John Zdrojewski, '69

October 10, 2012 by Lisa McMahon M.A.'09

Dr. John Zdrojewski, '69, recognizes that his career and the careers of countless Niagara University science graduates were positively influenced by their professors in ways they might not even be aware. He fondly remembers teachers like Joseph Forrester III, a chemistry professor from whom he took organic chemistry, and Dr. Thomas H. Morton, former chairman of the biology department, whose impact extended well beyond his classroom in DePaul Hall.

Dr. Morton was particularly influential in the careers of students who were going on to medical school, says Dr. Zdrojewski. He noted that Dr. Morton was so respected by admissions committees at these schools, particularly those in the northeast, that a letter of recommendation from him was instrumental in a candidate's chances for admission.

He, too, was a beneficiary of the respect Dr. Morton had among professional schools (although he didn't learn this fact until years later). After graduating from Niagara in 1969, Dr. Zdrojewski attended SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. He completed an internship at SUNY Upstate Medical Center in 1974, and then did his residency in dermatology at the University of Louisville. When asked how he decided on that particular field, he laughs, recalling a University of Louisville faculty dermatologist who had asked the same question during his interview for the position. Then, as now, he answered honestly: “I really don't know how to explain it!” His sincerity must have impressed the doctor, who indicated that she had heard far too many rehearsed and designed-to-please replies to that question, because a short time later, he was offered the coveted position. (Years later, as he was nearing completion of his residency, she offered him a position in her practice, but he and his wife had already decided to move to California.)

Today, he practices dermatology, dermatopathology, and Mohs surgery in southern California. He says that his Niagara education prepared him well for his chosen career, not only in the sciences, but also in the ethical aspects of the job by enhancing the values he learned while growing up. “It's not just about science and formulas,” he says. “In every walk of life there's the influence of ethics and compassion.”