Students look back as they embark on their next career step.
They entered Jefferson in different programs and with various career goals and aspirations, but they all share a common bond: They’re members of the Class of 2022. Seven students look back at their time at the University and discuss what lies ahead.
Cameron Craig, BS in Marketing
It’s an almost impossible task for Cameron Craig to name her favorite Jefferson moment.
“There are thousands,” says the marketing graduate.
However, when gently nudged, Craig says her time with the Student Government Association (SGA) proved pivotal in her University career. She served as the sophomore class president and student body vice president and president.
“SGA provided me with a foundation to be a professional advocate for others,” Craig says. “It taught me how much I love being a leader, sharing knowledge and communicating with others. SGA helped me grow a network of people who want to create positive, meaningful and long-lasting change.”
She recently worked as a management intern at Kohl’s where she learned about the daily closing and opening ceremony and how to manage a store location. After graduation, Craig will use the real-world skills she learned there and through Jefferson in the business management field.
The tight community she built over the past four years will make it bittersweet to graduate and begin her next chapter. Craig knows she shares this feeling with her classmates.
“We’re leaving excitingly, but we’re still going to miss it,” she says. “Jefferson is a piece of all of us, and we’re all a piece of Jefferson.”
Anjeanette Mathis, MS in Organizational Leadership
For nearly two decades, Anjeanette Mathis has worked at Inglis House. She started as a licensed practical nurse and eventually moved to the adult day program.
Then, the pandemic hit. Her job now centers on occupational health, overseeing COVID testing and prevention at the specialty care facility for adults with physical disabilities.
Jefferson’s organizational leadership program gave Mathis the structure she needed to streamline testing, vaccine and booster procedures for Inglis House’s residents, she says.
“It helped with planning, execution and revision,” says Mathis, the first graduate of the new University program. “I love the interaction I had with my professors. They always provided me with the support I needed.”
She previously earned her BS in behavioral and health services from Jefferson in 2018. A year later, she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Mathis has since finished chemo, and she’s happy to share that her hair has grown back and she’s in good health.
“I’m feeling great,” Mathis says with a smile. “No complaints.”
Alicia Jensen, BS in Nursing
Throughout high school, Alicia Jensen experienced multiple concussions while playing soccer. The repeated blows to the head left her with post-concussion syndrome, which causes dizziness, cognitive deficits and other symptoms.
“It’s just a matter of when the headaches hit and how intense they will be,” she says.
Jensen has spent countless hours over the years in doctors’ offices, often discussing her symptoms with attentive nurses. These conversations inspired her to dive deeper into the issues surrounding concussions.
Professional male athletes receive most of the attention on brain injuries and their aftereffects, so Jensen wanted to change the narrative. She spoke about concussions at a United Nations panel the weekend before the 2014 Super Bowl.
“I was the only female and amateur athlete among a panel of professional athletes,” she says. “They were completely closed off about the reality of physical, mental and emotional pain we feel after repeated head injuries. It gets brushed under the rug a lot of times.”
This high-profile event led to media interviews and more speaking engagements to promote concussion safety at all athletic levels. (She earned an undergraduate degree in communications at another college, which helped her finetune her message.)
While these opportunities sparked Jensen’s interest in health care, her father’s diagnosis of brain cancer—and the care he received—cemented the fact she wanted to return to school.
“That exposed me to a whole other side of medicine and kickstarted me to go into nursing,” Jensen says.
Jensen entered Jefferson’s FACT-2 program and quickly became a proponent of brain injury education at the University. At the request of nursing assistant professor Dr. Anne Mitchell, she presented a guest lecture on concussions to her fellow students.
“That’s something that I’ll always remember,” Jensen says. “I shared with my peers what concussions are really like and how to treat a patient with these symptoms based on my first-hand experience.”
In a full-circle moment, she has accepted a job offer at the emergency room of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, a place she visited often as a patient with concussions.
Gillian Colwell, BS in Fashion Design
As young as age 5, Gillian Colwell would sketch people they saw outside and put together their own little mismatched outfits, they recall with a laugh.
That love of fashion carried through to high school, and when Colwell visited Jefferson for the first time, they knew they found the perfect fit.
“I could tell how close-knit everyone was,” Colwell says. “The fashion design faculty and staff were like a family. They cared about us, our process and helping us achieve our best forms.”
Colwell’s Jefferson designs often focused on breaking traditions and catering to underserved communities. In two of their favorite collections, they designed looks for plus-sized trans people and created genderless pieces across the whole body spectrum.
With the latter, they focused on the 1960s space obsession and how it parallels the alienation of the LGBTQ community throughout history.
Colwell is currently interviewing for tailoring jobs in New York City and hopes to design genderless suits and jackets.
“Everyone, especially the plus-size queer community, deserves to feel great about themselves in their clothes,” they say.
Jordan Mak, Doctor of Pharmacy
Jordan Mak went to work at a neuroscience lab after earning his undergraduate degree in biochemistry at another school. While Mak always has loved science, he didn’t feel that overall sense of job satisfaction of bench research in the wet lab.
“I felt a disconnect,” he says. “It takes a long time for research to reach the patient.”
After shadowing a pharmacist, Mak saw his calling and enrolled in the University’s doctor of pharmacy program.
“You can make a direct impact in patient care,” says Mak, who will complete a PGY1 pharmacy residency at Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia.
At Jefferson, he particularly benefited from participating in the University’s interprofessional education programs and a national case competition with pharmacy and nursing students, he says. The competition, which sought to connect a refugee family with health care, gave him experience in social work and population health.
“I always knew I wanted to earn a doctorate degree,” Mak says, “and Jefferson validated my decision to go to pharmacy school.”
Nicholas Swanson, PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology
For Nicholas Swanson, the community he made became one of the most important parts of his time at Jefferson.
He belonged to JeffLGBTQ, the Graduate Student Association and JeffEarth and served as president of BizBio, a group dedicated to exploring careers outside the academic box. However, of all the organizations he played a part in, No One Dies Alone (NODA) stood out among them.
With NODA, volunteers spend time with terminally ill patients who are alone in their final days, offering support and compassion by reading poetry, playing music or simply sitting with them.
“It’s incredibly powerful to connect with someone at this moment and be with them during their time of passing,” Swanson says. “It’s an experience everyone could benefit from going through. It helps you grow empathy.”
Making a difference in people’s lives drove Swanson at Jefferson. He served as the first author of a study that could have key therapeutic applications. His research team examined how certain viruses could infect cells without apparently having a tail long enough to do it.
They learned the virus forms its own tail with an ejection mechanism. With this newly discovered feature, the “second” tail forms inside the cell membrane, allowing the virus DNA to infect the cell.
“It was a mystery,” he notes. “This work is groundbreaking for the field.”
Swanson is currently a post-doc associate at MIT, studying the HIV lifecycle and how the virus can penetrate the cell nucleus.
“It’s rewarding and fulfilling, and I’m using the skills I learned at Jefferson,” says Swanson, who plans to enter the pharmaceutical or biotech world after MIT.
Mallory Katen, BS in Interior Design
While HGTV has thrown interior design into the spotlight, the popular channel often doesn’t show the field’s full scope, says Mallory Katen.
From the creative side to construction documentation and code, Jefferson’s interior design program has allowed her to see all the industry’s facets, the grad says.
In one of her favorite projects, Katen used her adaptive-reuse skills to reclaim an abandoned church as a camera store. For another project, which made area headlines, she worked with St. Joseph’s University staff to build an autism-friendly residence hall for their school.
“We got feedback from the students, and that really drove our design,” she says. “It was an educational process to learn from the neurodiverse community.”
Three interior design internships also gave her more valuable real-world experience and connections, Katen says. In fact, she will soon start working full-time as a designer at Meyer, the national firm she interned at this semester.
“I’m excited to collaborate with a team and see my projects come to life,” Katen says.