Back to School

With special accommodations in place, some 750 undergrads join the Jefferson family.

Filled with optimism and excitement despite the pandemic, nearly 750 undergraduate students have joined the Jefferson community to kick off the new school year. The Class of 2024—and 2025 for five-year programs—features members from 20 states and 11 countries around the world, including Italy, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Denmark and the United Kingdom.

Hailing from Bien Hoa, Vietnam, health sciences/pre-physician assistant student Nhi To won a competition to attend high school in Michigan and eventually transferred to Holy Cross Prep Academy in Delran, N.J. Jefferson’s strong healthcare reputation drew her to the University.

Headshot of new student Nhi To

Vietnamese student Nhi To joins the health sciences/pre-physician assistant program.

“I love caring for people,” says To, who volunteered at a nursing home while in high school.

Small class sizes also played a factor in her choosing Jefferson. She already chatted with other international students on social media and hopes to make quick connections with her peers.

“I’m looking forward to meeting new people,” To says.

Twins Carley and Brianne Burns
Twins Carley and Brianne Burns say they're ready to start the next chapter of their lives at Jefferson.

One of her classmates in the health sciences/pre-physician assistant program is Carley Burns. Carley and her sister, Brianne, are one of two sets of twins in the new Jefferson class.

The sisters from East Greenville, Pa., didn’t set out to attend Jefferson together, but the school hit everything they wanted: a vibrant campus atmosphere, metropolitan-area location and highly regarded health programs, says Brianne, a health sciences pre-pharmacy student.

“I’m more excited than nervous,” says Brianne, the older sister by about 30 minutes. “It will feel like some sort of normalcy after being home for so long.”

“I’m just ready to start a new chapter,” Carley adds.

Mechanical engineering student Joe Cencetti plans to play baseball for the Rams.

Joe Cencetti shares their enthusiasm. The incoming mechanical engineering student from Pittston Area High School in Pittston, Pa., chose Jefferson for its academics and athletics. Cencetti plans to play baseball for the Rams and already has spoken with some other freshmen on the team.

“I’m excited to get on campus,” he says. “I hope it can be as normal as possible, but I know there will be some changes.”

Graphic of where all the new students are from

Welcome Week
Of course, it won’t be business as usual across the University, with accommodations and protocols in place to ensure everyone’s safety and well-being. While traditional welcome week activities now will be socially distanced and mainly outdoors, Jefferson still has many events planned, including the Great DuBois circus show, musician Nelly’s Echo, yoga, mini-golf, and a prom and progressive dinner where new students can get dressed up and eat under the stars.

In addition, events like Quizzo, bingo and a murder mystery game will be held virtually, says Heather Weaver, director of student engagement, noting future campus activities and programs will be announced in the future.

Opening Aug. 24, the Gallagher Fitness Center has implemented new safety guidelines, including temperature checks at the front desk and masks and reservations required.

See below for a snapshot of how various other student services will be done differently for the fall semester:

Fitness Centers
At East Falls, Gallagher Fitness Center guidelines include temperature checks at the front desk; plexiglass barriers between staff and patrons; one way in and out for entrances and exits; social distancing of at least 6 feet; increased cleaning protocols; doors kept open for better air circulation; masks that cover the mouth and nose with ear loops or ties required at all times (neck gators, bandanas or masks with a vent hole not allowed); and a 17-person limit per hour and reservations and East Falls ID required. In addition, exercise classes will be held virtually, and the fitness center looks to have outdoor yoga classes on campus with proper social distancing.

Plans for reopening Center City’s Jefferson Recreation and Fitness Center (JRFC) will be forthcoming. In the meantime, the JRFC will offer virtual options, both live and recorded on Instagram and YouTube. New upcoming virtual services include guided meditation sessions, live nutritionist and personal trainer events, at-home fitness incentive programs/challenges, and e-sports with video game challenges and team games.

Part of the "Ram Fam," Felix Warren helps new student Carina Raymond check in.

Career Services
The Career Development Center on Center City Campus will host weekly online events starting Sept. 28. They will use Handshake’s embedded virtual event platform for video and text interaction between employers and students in one-on-one and small group settings. More information and other events soon will be available in Handshake and the Virtual Career Center in Canvas.

East Falls’ Marianne Able Career Services Center will conduct virtual walk-ins and appointments for students, as well as virtual interviews with employers.

New student Alexis Hooks checks in and receives her Jefferson welcome packet.

Student Counseling
The Counseling Services at East Falls and the Student Personal Counseling Center at Center City—both now called the Student Counseling Center—is offering routine appointments via telehealth. To make an appointment, call 215-955-HELP. A free, anonymous online mental health screening tool also is available.

For emergencies on Center City campus, students should call 811 or 215-955-8888 for Jefferson Public Safety. On East Falls, students should contact East Falls Public Safety at 215-951-2999. Students should call 911 with emergencies off-campus. Students experiencing an urgent need that’s not an emergency should call 215-955-HELP and ask to speak to the counselor on call.

The Student Counseling Center continues to provide wellness tips on Instagram as well.

Ram Fam members
Sophia Salvatore and Zumana Noor helped students as they moved into the residence halls.

Academic Support
The Academic Success Center on East Falls provides free academic assistance to students and advises all freshmen and transfer students during their first year at East Falls. Available for most undergraduate courses, tutoring will be online for the fall semester. For example, professional writing tutoring is available through Zoom or asynchronous appointments, and students can choose a drop-in math tutoring session or make an appointment for one-on-one tutoring.

Center City’s Academic Support Services and Student Writing Center will present the virtual workshop/discussion session Preparing Academic Success Strategies on Friday, Aug. 21, from 12 to 2 p.m. The program, which will be available on-demand afterward, will focus on strategies for remote learning, time management, active study and test preparation. Throughout the semester, they will offer workshops, class sessions as requested by particular programs and open discussion sessions via Zoom. (In-person appointments may be booked by request.) They also help connect students to content tutoring and other support, as well as provide materials on their website and, soon, Canvas.

“We’re here, eager and available to help students with any and all adjustments they’re making to learn as effectively as they can in their programs,” says Jim Dyksen, director of Academic Support Services. “We understand the kinds of challenges and differences they may experience—and the opportunities this unique fall semester will bring. We encourage students to connect with us and proactively use our services as they navigate their new courses.”

The new Jefferson undergraduate class features members from 20 states and 11 countries.
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Life at Jefferson