Meet Alan Pistone, ’19

From Left to Right: Alan Pistone and Dr. Vikul Rajpara

Meet Alan Pistone, ’19:
He has started his path towards earning his Ph.D. and Union has helped him find his way…

Major: Chemical Engineering

I chose to attend Union County College because it was close to home and an affordable way for me to start my career in higher education. I say “career” because I hope to eventually complete my Ph.D. I know that’s more than a few years off, but I believe in setting goals and aiming for success.

I started at Union as an electrical engineering major; however, my mentor, Dr. Vikul Rajpara, encouraged me to switch to chemical engineering because of my love for chemistry. It was his persistence that persuaded me to make the change, and I am happy I did.

Dr. Rajpara also recommended me for a student tutor position in the Academic Learning Center. Working as a peer tutor has allowed me to meet many Union students and to form new friendships.

In addition to the ALC, I am involved on campus in other activities. With a good friend, I established the first Visual Arts Club. I also recently ran for the position of Student Government Association (SGA) President. The campaigning experience was amazing and I was shocked when I won! I did not expect so many classmates to believe in my ability to represent and serve them.

As SGA President and a peer tutor, I frequently interact with Union students who ask how I achieve my goals. I explain that, for me, taking a proactive role in my studies is key. I prepare for each class by reading ahead, and I complete my assignments when they are due. I do not procrastinate. I better understand the material using this approach, and I don’t fall behind or feel “lost” in class. It is especially important this year since I am taking more challenging courses.

Union has been a great place to begin my college education. The professors really care about their students. The education is affordable and there are amazing campus resources available to help each student succeed, such as the reference librarians who have taught me how to research and cite works in my papers. I enjoy meeting with my professors during office hours for individual instruction. And finally, I am especially grateful that I have the ALC to go to when I need assistance. The tutoring services help me achieve my goals for academic success.


Dr. Vikul Rajpara, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, is now in his seventh year at Union, and he loves the College’s diverse community. Dr. Rajpara grew up in India and studied science there at South Gujarat University, earning his B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees. But he dreamed of going to America, which he envisioned with tall buildings, bright streets, and millions of cars on the roads. When he arrived in the U.S., he landed in rural South Dakota, on a full scholarship at the university and surrounded by open fields, farms, and cows. It was not what he expected. After completing his M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of South Dakota, he moved to New Jersey, and the America of tall buildings and traffic was realized.