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Graduate donates van to UNCP’s Biology Department

October 13, 2009

As an undergraduate and graduate at UNC Pembroke, science education major Darlene Montesanti loved trips into the field.


From left: Dr. Leon Jernigan (Biology), Rachel McBroom (Biology), Dr. Bruce Ezell (Biology), Dr. Deborah Hanmer (Biology), Dr. Patricia Sellers (Biology), Darlene and Brad Montesanti, Dr. David Ziegler (Biology) and Dr. Lisa Kelly (Biology).

After graduation in May 2009, she thought about an appropriate gift to the Biology Department. Montesanti, a Moore County resident who teaches science at Robeson Community College, came up with the perfect idea.

 “I’m an outdoor person,” she said almost apologetically. “I thought a van for field trips would be perfect,” she said.

Montesanti and her husband, Brad, who is a retired drug store owner, delivered the van this fall, and Biology Department chair Dr. David Ziegler said the Biology Department has grown to over 20 full-time faculty and over 400 majors and the need for student travel has increased.

“The Montesantis’ gift is especially important and appreciated because they donated money for a specific purpose that was much needed,” Dr. Ziegler said. “I am proud that many of the biology faculty believe it is important to get students out of the classroom and into ‘the field’ in courses like ecology, entomology, field botany, zoology, and ornithology.

“Such experiences are eye openers for many of our students, and they help develop a real understanding and love of nature,” he continued. “The Biology Department will long remember this generous gift and use it for the good of our students and programs—hopefully for years to come.”

Montesanti was a non-traditional student starting at Sandhills Community College and finishing work at UNCP.

“I had heard good things about the University and the Biology Department before coming,” the former middle school teacher said. “I loved it; I made some amazing friends.”

Brad Montesanti supported his wife the whole way.

“She fell in love with the University,” Brad said. “I was really happy that she was able to finish here.”

Darlene Montesanti found field trips outside the Biology Department too. She took two class trips to the Southwestern U.S. led by geologist Dr. Lee Phillips.

“Those trips were outstanding,” she said. “Dr. Phillips really knows his way around.”

Coming to UNCP with some teaching experience made Montesanti’s career choice easy.

“I decided teaching is what I really want to do,” she said. “I decided on the community college level, and I felt well prepared in the classroom.”

Montesanti is teaching basic anatomy and physiology and has been asked to teach more advanced courses next semester. She remembers the field trips at UNCP.

“I remember we had to drive our own cars,” she said. “I knew they really needed a van.”