Jenifer Gifford '13
Hometown: Wauseon, OH
High School: Evergreen High School
Double Major: Biology-Chemistry
What activities or clubs are you involved in at SJC?
- Concert Choir
- Chamber Singers
- Concert Band
- Marching Band
- Wind Ensemble
- Student Director of Science Olympiad
- Lab Assisting for the Chemistry Department
- Alpha Lambda Delta
- Delta Epsilon Sigma
- Student Ambassador
How did you hear about SJC?
Two alumni from my high school were attending SJC and encouraged me to apply and audition for a Performance Scholarship.
Are you getting financial aid and if so, what kind? How is it helping you to attend SJC?
Aside from student loans, I am a recipient of the Honors Scholarship as well as a Performance Scholarship for band. Receiving both scholarships has enabled me to pay for an education that I otherwise may not have been able to afford.
Why did you choose SJC? If there were other colleges you considered, what does SJC have that they did not have -- from your perspective?
Saint Joseph's College was the only college in the Midwest that I applied to. All of the other colleges and universities were very large, well known institutions in New England. While I was accepted to all of my choices, I decided that SJC was the best decision for three reasons. First, it was a Catholic institution rather than a public state school and, as a Catholic, that was an important factor for me. I wanted to be somewhere where my faith was a part of my education. Second, after visiting twice and speaking with faculty, it was apparent that there was a strong sense of community on this campus. The faculty actually cares about the students and their education rather than merely operating the college like a business. You aren't just a number here. Lastly, the scholarship package I was awarded made SJC the best value college in comparison to the others.
What are your plans for the future?
I plan on attending graduate school and pursuing a Ph.D. My career plans involve working in the pharmaceutical industry with a focus in drug discovery.
How do you feel about Core? Do you think Core will be beneficial after graduation?
After interning in a professional setting, I realized that, though Core is not necessarily meant to make me a better scientist, it has made me into a well rounded individual and has enabled me to better work with people. Through the Core Program, I've gained effective communication skills and have been exposed to many different world views and cultures. This allowed me to relate better to the people I worked with. For example, my mentor during my internship was from India, and, having taken Core India, I was able to talk to him, not only about science, but also about all things Indian. It allowed us to connect on another level that would not have been possible without the Core Program.
What has your experience been as a student at SJC?
My experience as a student at Saint Joseph's College has been the epitome of what it means to receive an education that not only educates the mind, but the entire person. Here, education doesn't stop in the classroom. It extends beyond the labs and the books and moves into your extracurricular activities, your relationships, and your spirituality. As a freshman, in academia, I was able to immediately jump into both of my majors and develop scientifically and professionally. Through Core, I was exposed to elements of the humanities that would not have been part of my education at other institutions. Additionally, a large emphasis is placed upon getting involved here at SJC, so, outside of academia, I further balanced my science with the humanities by becoming involved with several musical ensembles. Finally, being a small and strong community, SJC has allowed me to develop meaningful relationships with both my peers and professors.
What advice would you give to a prospective student looking into your major at SJC?
Both Chemistry and Biology are a lot of work. At times it can be grueling, but majoring in the sciences is extremely rewarding and continually fascinating. The faculty members in the sciences love their field and will inspire you to love it as well.
I was fortunate to obtain an internship through ARIAD, a biotechnology company focused on cancer treatments and therapies, in Cambridge, Mass. For 10 weeks, I interned as a chemist in the medicinal chemistry lab where I focused primarily on synthetic organic chemistry. Under the direction of another chemist, I spent weeks in the hood and made several different analogs of a drug molecule that focused on a specific target effective against non-small cell lung cancer. Producing molecules entailed following procedures to make the product, analyzing its purity through instrumentation, purifying compounds, and preparing them for submission for testing.
As an intern for ARIAD, the most valuable thing I gained through my internship was the hands-on lab experience and technique development. I had access to instrumentation, procedures, and chemicals that I would not likely have been exposed to in an undergraduate chemistry course.
From my experience, I strongly encourage undergraduate students in science to pursue internship opportunities in their career path. Internships provide students with opportunities to network with experts in their chosen field, gain experience working in a professional setting, and learn practical information and skills that could not have been learned in a classroom setting. Such things will help them in the future as they apply to institutions of higher education or begin their careers after graduation.