The Class of 2011 is well on its way. Six months after graduation, more than four out of five were in graduate school or working and the number employed is steadily increasing.
Danielle Gregor, research associate for Celgene Cellular Therapeutics, expected to learn a lot from her colleagues in her first job. But what she didn’t expect was for them to be learning from her. The neuroscience major says her work as an undergraduate in Drew’s labs has made her a valuable contributor to the company’s research on biomaterials. “At Drew, I worked with a particular type of assay and with fluorescent imaging,” she says. “I’m doing something very similar at Celgene.” Gregor is an alumna of Drew’s Research Institute for Scientists Emeriti (RISE) and the Drew Summer Science Institute (DSSI), which is where she first met and networked with her company’s CEO while conducting research on Alzheimer’s disease. Career guidance and resume help from Drew’s neuroscience faculty helped her make a compelling case for her abilities as a scientist, giving her the tools she needed to land that first job. For now, Gregor is happy in the world of corporate science, but ultimately plans to pursue a PhD and reenter academia, where she hopes her future research will build on what she did at Drew. “I eventually want to go back to working on Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases,” she says.
Music major Jack Breslin, who arrived at Drew as a classically trained cellist before learning the electric and upright basses, loves Drew’s music department for the richness of its offerings relative to its small size. “That allowed me to stick my toes in many rivers to see what else was out there,” he says. Today, he’s thriving at New Jersey City University (NJCU), where he’s pursuing his master’s in jazz performance. “They have a remarkable music program that’s very competitive,” says the double bass player. “The faculty are some of the best artists in the New York music scene.” As a graduate student, Breslin is taking courses in theory, arranging and improvisation, playing in an 18-piece big band and in small combos that focus on a variety of genres and playing styles. “The program offers a really well-rounded music education,” he says. Drew prepared him to succeed in graduate school by offering him an array of opportunities that included the orchestra, jazz band and madrigal singers. His undergraduate classes taught him advanced concepts in music theory, history, composition and performing, and he says he especially loved learning about international genres from India and Africa.
It came as no surprise to learn that Jonathan Ortiz, a former editor for The Acorn, had found a position in the publishing world. He’s currently working as an editorial assistant for Pearson Education. “My job requires a lot more of me than just administrative duties,” he says, citing the developmental editing projects that landed his name in the credits of his department’s most recently published books. As a Drew undergraduate studying English and creative writing, Ortiz interned at The Princeton Review, a position that allowed him to learn about publishing, later making him an attractive job candidate to potential employers. He says Drew’s Career Center contacted him personally after graduation to make him aware of the opportunity at Pearson. “I took full advantage of what they offered, so they knew me and were aware of my search,” he says. Ortiz’s internship experience and the Career Center’s guidance weren’t the only things carrying him toward his first job. He also credits the English curriculum with teaching him skills that he uses every day. “My major helped me to develop as a reader, writer and editor, which is invaluable in my work,” he says.
More than anything else, Will Brackett credits Drew’s prestigious Wall Street Semester program with helping him land an impressive first job. “It was instrumental in providing me with opportunities to get my name out there,” he says. “I was able to network with finance professionals not only in the classroom, but also in their offices.” The economics and Chinese double-major is currently working for JPMorgan Chase’s equity derivatives group. He says his job is “enjoyable, yet challenging,” and is a perfect match for his interest in finance. Brackett made his first foray into working for JPMorgan as a student-intern in the same department that now employs him full-time, a preview of professional life that has served him well in his current position. “It was a great experience,” he says. Brackett also credits other elements of his undergraduate years with preparing him for the working world. “I played on the men’s soccer team, challenged myself to learn Chinese and traveled abroad extensively,” he says. “These are the things that taught me persistence and how to succeed.”
The Renaissance Woman
“I like to keep busy,” says Kati Eggert, whose four-pronged job at the Westover School occupies most, if not all, of her time. “That’s how I work best.” The art major and three-sport varsity athlete is now working for the all-girls boarding school as a coach of field hockey, swimming and softball; a dorm parent; an admissions counselor; and a teacher of documentary film—which is an interest of hers that developed in an undergraduate class on movie-making. “After I discovered my passion for video, I got the chance to combine it with my love for sports by making highlight films for Drew’s athletics department,” she says. As a Drew student, Eggert did an internship in real estate and got the full corporate experience, but was not convinced that she wanted to pursue a career in business. She sought clarity from an interest inventory questionnaire—administered by Drew’s career center—that confirmed her suspicion that she was better suited for teaching and student affairs work. As a student-teacher, Eggert – who took part in Drew’s shared education program with the College of St. Elizabeth – did stints at middle and high schools in Morris County, which taught her the finer points of lesson and unit planning, classroom management, and grading. “Student-teaching was incredibly different from anything else I had ever done,” she says. “It’s what really prepared me for life after college.”
While at Drew, English and religious studies double-major James Robinson had a great relationship with his professors, even going as far as calling them his “good friends.” In fact, that friendship is one of the driving forces behind his plan to become a university educator himself. As a current master’s student at Harvard Divinity School, he’s well on his way and hopes to land a professorship in an environment that hits close to home. “I’d love to teach at a college just like Drew,” he says. At Harvard, Robinson is focusing his studies on religion and literature, and is working on a project about how different faith traditions are portrayed in 20th century fiction—especially in the works of one of his favorite authors. “I’ve always loved J.D. Salinger, so to connect with his work in graduate school is very exciting,” he says. As for the rigors of Harvard’s admissions and academics, he credits his Drew professors not only with helping him get there, but also with preparing him to be successful. “Drew’s professors are some of the best in the country,” he says. “I truly believe that.”
The Special Educator
As a graduate student at Boston College, Patrick Robinson is preparing himself for a challenging, yet rewarding, career in education. The recent Drew alumnus, who is currently taking master’s-level courses at the prestigious Lynch School of Education, is at the starting line of his future career teaching blind and visually impaired students. “I read an article at Drew about how the blind use Braille to read, write and do mathematics, and can become leaders in industry, education and the arts,” he says. “For me, this blew the lid off the idea that handicaps have to be limiting.” Robinson is currently supplementing his graduate education by taking courses on Braille transcription offered by the National Federation for the Blind. He predicts that this skill will be especially useful to him as a teacher. The future educator describes his career path as “off track” relative to his undergraduate major in religious studies and minor in art history, but is confident that his Drew education will add value to his upcoming academic and professional pursuits. “I would say that Drew cultivated in me the ability to analyze different ideas and respond with unique ones of my own,” he says. “Like me, I think most Drew alumni in graduate programs are very well prepared.”
After graduation, Kyle Smith ’11 headed west for a job in one of Goldman Sachs’ newest locations. The political science major, who minored in classics, is working as an analyst for the securities operations asset servicing team in the investment bank’s Salt Lake City office. “My job is to ensure that clients’ accounts get paid properly,” he says. Even though he came to Drew intent on a career in law, Smith’s undergraduate experiences—including the Wall Street Semester and internships with the Federal Reserve and New Jersey Department of Treasury—led him toward a career in finance. “I was able to use my experiences to become familiar with finance and the markets, and with the nuances of the field,” he says. “Having real-world experience as an undergraduate was very helpful in starting my career.” Smith, who describes the finance world as “meritocratic,” credits Drew with allowing him to develop his communication skills, which helped him land his current job. “Goldman is big on team dynamics and those skills are born out in an interview, which is why I had eight or nine before I got an offer,” he says.
Melanie Robbins has always wanted to contribute to a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. As a resource development coordinator for the Tel Aviv-based nonprofit Windows-Channels for Communication, she’s accomplishing that goal by working to build mutual understandings between young people in the region. “The organization allows kids and teenagers to experience different perspectives by sharing stories, learning about family and discussing current events,” she says. The political science major, who double minored in Middle East studies and women’s and gender studies, first got involved with the organization as a fellow for Drew’s Center on Religion, Culture and Conflict, and was offered a full-time job there while on a Drew International Seminar (DIS) in Israel. Robbins also used one of the university’s off-campus programs as an opportunity to learn about the conflict. “I focused on it as a student in the Semester on the United Nations, and was able to learn more by going to General Assembly meetings,” she says. “This gave me deep perspective.” That same perspective helped Robbins write a compelling honors thesis at Drew on the Middle East, which was later published in Europe. Looking back, Robbins said she was advised to use the experiences that Drew offered as a practice ground for what she wanted to do in life. “That’s exactly what I did,” she said.
David Robinson is a rising star in Trenton, NJ. After graduating from Drew, he turned a volunteer job on a political campaign into a full-time position in the State House. The sociology major works for Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly and Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter (NJ-35) as a legislative aide, a position that’s mostly focused on serving constituents and researching legislation. As a Drew student, he logged four successful internships—at organizations that range from a municipal government to an investment firm—, launching him head-first into a job that he describes as “great.” He worked closely with Drew’s Career Center to build a diversified, yet impressive, resume and says his academic experiences help allow him to see issues in his job from a multitude of angles. Not only is Robinson now doing what he loves, but he’s also fighting for the causes that matter to him most. “One of the most important issues for me is education, which is an interest that my bosses share,” he says. “It’s great to work for people who I believe in.”
At Drew, Fredy Machado studied English and Spanish literature, which taught him how to insightfully analyze various types of written work. Today, he’s busy applying those analysis skills to complex insurance documents as an auditor for Business Credentialing Services (BCS), a fast-growing company that works to protect Fortune 500 clients from unnecessary liability. Having jumped head-first into the task of minimizing clients’ risk, he has made some truly great catches. “I’ve been trained to make sure that my clients have adequate coverage and that their policies cover the appropriate assets,” he says. Machado, who got his full-time position at BCS after working there part-time while still a student, had less than a week of downtime between graduation and his first day on the job. “I was really excited to get started,” he says. And since BCS—which has hired more than 10 Drew alumni—is expanding internationally, Machado’s language skills in English, Spanish and Italian (the latter of which was his minor), have him feeling renewed excitement about his future with the company. “I couldn’t be happier,” he says.
Brent Rivers has been acting since he was eight years old. These days, the theatre arts and English double-major is playing the part of drama teacher. Rivers is currently enrolled in Drew’s own Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program, which is preparing him to educate students in the art of theatre through a curriculum that focuses on both pedagogy and subject matter. “I started the MAT program by taking courses in psychology and civics,” he says. “Once that groundwork was laid, I dove into learning the teaching of theatre by working with the faculty in Drew’s Department of Theatre and Dance.” Rivers is currently student-teaching at Warren Hills Regional High School, where he’s leading courses in introductory, advanced and technical theatre. He credits a mock teaching course at Drew with preparing him to deliver lessons to students, which he likens to the craft of performing. “I compare the act of student teaching to theatre itself,” he says. “You can learn all there is to know before you do it, but until you meet your audience, it all means nothing.” Rivers, who will graduate with his master’s in May, feels confident that his undergraduate and graduate educations have prepared him for the 21st century classroom. “What am I learning?” he asks. “The answer is everything.”
The Social Worker
As a Drew undergraduate, social worker Giselle Javier was one of the most active students in her class, serving as a resident assistant, a University Programming Board member and as the leader of the Middle East Students Association. Working with the Career Center, she was able to package these experiences in a way that made her an attractive internship candidate, leading to positions with a financial consultant and an event planner. These two early career experiences came to bear on her current work for the New Jersey Division of Aging and Community Services by teaching her how to communicate with different types of people. “My internships helped me expand the people skills that are critical in my line of work,” she says. “Being able to communicate with clients so that they understand that I’m there to help is essential.” Javier, who majored in political science and minored in Arabic, helps those clients by intervening in situations of abuse and neglect, and by connecting them with social service organizations that improve their lives. “My job is to help older people with everything that they could possibly struggle with,” she says.