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Alumni Share What They Wish They Knew When Starting Their Careers

By Rosie DiGironimo

Published on September 25, 2020

Young alumni from Misher College of Arts and Sciences shared their advice on transitioning to careers and life after graduation with students from the college during a virtual event hosted by the Young Professional Organization and the Office of Alumni Relations on September 2. 

The alumni  discussed everything from the self-doubt they first experienced while choosing their career paths to how the well rounded education and flexibility of majors at USciences aided in their adaptability and overall character to be competitive candidates for their future endeavors. 

Reecha PandyaReecha Pandya BMS’15, MS, a Senior NPI Engineer at Abbott Laboratories explained that her most valuable lesson from USciences was learning how to learn. Pandya was not always interested in engineering and graduated from USciences with most of her experience in biological science laboratory research. When she started at Abbott, engineering was intimidating as things were unfamiliar to her. 

“When you have a challenge that you’ve never faced before that always brings an umbrella of self-doubt as you have no idea how to approach it; however, if you are confident in how to always learn how to learn, you are capable of overcoming anything,” said Pandya. She explained that there is always going to be new technology and changing applications. “The world is always evolving, once you have learned how to learn and adapt, you will always be able to stay ahead of the curve.” 

Jenna KwiecinskiJenna Kwiecinski MedHum’20 BMS’20, a first year medical student at Cooper Rowan University, was originally interested in environmental science, and never thought she would be on a path to becoming a Physician. Kwiecinski became fascinated with Anatomy and Biology and decided to change her major to Biomedical Sciences. She also added a second Medical Humanities major, changing her perspective on medicine and sparked her interest in going into podiatry. Kwiecinski told students that she was interested in becoming a Podiatrist for all the wrong reasons. 

“My heart wasn’t in it, I was interested in the career because of the flexible hours and not necessarily my passion for the job,” she said, encouraging students to take risks and not be afraid to change their mind.Kwiecinski decided to apply to medical school the last possible week for admissions and successfully got into the MD program at Cooper Rowan University. Now she is thrilled about her career path and couldn’t imagine herself doing anything else. 

Blake NelsonBlake Nelson BC’20, a current PhD candidate at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, credits the tight knit community of the chemistry department for building his confidence and helping him find his career path. Nelson started research in chemistry his freshman year and joined a lab with Dr. Nathan Baird, gaining hands-on experience with RNA Biophysics and Biochemistry. Prior to joining the lab, Nelson wanted to go to medical school, but after falling in love with research and the relationships he made with the chemistry majors and his advisor, Dr. Baird, he decided continuing research was his purpose. 

“Dr. Baird not only strengthened my research skills but he also pushed me professionally by advising me to join organizations such as the RNA Society and by taking me to meetings at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland to see the connection between the things I was experiencing in the lab at USciences and how it connects with what the scientific community is discovering,” he said. 

Nelson explained to students that his choice to focus on learning about RNA Biophysics and Biochemistry makes him stand out now in his career. Having the opportunity to specialize in learning about RNA in a small lab group where he had the attention needed to fully understand the material gave Nelson the knowledge to be the expert now in his lab while he is finishing his PhD studies. 

Jared HunterJared Hunter HumSci’16, MPA, Director of Woodbury Heart & Soul, believes his education at USciences made him into a Renaissance man. Hunter explained that as a Humanities major, his learning was often outside of the normal healthcare field and through his studies he was exposed to many different aspects of thought, building his overall understanding of how things work. To be the most successful and attractive candidate for a job, your skills have to be versatile. 

“People are always looking for individuals that are able to be in multiple spaces at one time, that are comfortable with ambiguity, they might not be experts in the content, but they are able to roll with the punches and think quickly on their feet to solve problems,” Hunter said. “Misher College gave me a foundation of knowledge in multiple disciplines and thus created  my Renaissance personality that made me stand out against others.”

Like his other colleagues, Hunter did not start at USciences desiring to be Humanities major, instead he entered as a  pharmacology major. After getting more involved in the community surrounding USciences and starting the Political Science club, Hunter’s interests changed. “Don’t be afraid of changing your perspective and becoming passionate about something else, there are so many opportunities at USciences, and the right path will reveal itself to you.”  

Categories: News, Alumni, Students, Event, Misher College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Humanities, Department of Biological Sciences, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry