SJU Graduates Working for SJU Students
Medical and Law Alumni Chapters Helping Hawks in Unique Ways
Hawk alumni supporting, mentoring and hiring Hawks students and young alumni is the bedrock upon which the SJU network is built. Perhaps a hiring manager works a Hawk’s resume to the top of an internship interview queue or a C-level executive grants an informational interview to a Hawk. These ad-hoc instances occur on a regular basis, but the Alumni Association’s affinity chapters formalize the process of building bridges from coursework to a fruitful career through a variety of programs.
At a Medical Alumni Chapter meeting more than a decade ago, members discussed giving back as a way to show gratitude to the University. Retired otolaryngologist Louis Welsh M.D. ’52 suggested an on-campus lecture series featuring physicians speaking about their medical specialties. Alphonse J. DiGiovanni, M.D. ’53 pitched the idea to then-Biology Department Chairman Paul Tefft, Ph.D., and the lecture series has been a fixture on the university calendar every spring since.
This year’s lecture series featured nine alumni from the 1950s through the 1980s, including Bartholomew Tortella, M.D. ’75, who spoke about intensive care.
“Not all students can spend time at a trauma center,” said Tortella, the chapter’s 2014 Bradley Award winner, given in recognition of his loyalty and dedication to the mission of Saint Joseph’s through outstanding service to others, scholarship or research. “My presentation brings alive how intensive care units have evolved into the most high-tech modality of medical care and how advanced interventions can support the lives of critically ill patients.”
SJU Assistant Biology Professor Matthew D. Nelson, Ph.D. makes the lectures relevant by matching topics covered in his Systemic Physiology class with what that week’s presenting physician will discuss.
“The alumni talk about how their SJU education shaped their careers and their daily clinical practices. They encourage students to get involved with service and research,” he said. “Hearing suggestions from accomplished physicians is extremely valuable.”
Ryan Vance ’16, a summa cum laude biology graduate, continued attending the lectures even after completing Nelson’s class.
“The lectures provided us with a real-world visualization of complex biological topics,” said Vance, a Phi Beta Kappa member who is taking a gap year as an AmeriCorps VISTA at North Philadelphia’s Meade Elementary School and hopes to attend medical school in the northeast in 2017. “The lectures show the strong ties between the school and its alumni, a connectedness and how much their education helped them in their careers.”
Like many other affinity chapters, the Medical Alumni Chapter has established funds to advance students’ professional interests. Started in 1997, the Medical Alumni Chapter’s endowed fund underwrites lectures, student enrichment activities and other educational resources. The chapter’s Pre-Medical Scholarship fund provides scholarship support for students and the Catherine Nash Award provides monetary awards to students heading to medical school.
“The lectures show the strong ties between the school and its alumni, a connectedness and how much their education helped them in their careers.” — Ryan Vance ’16
Through its own endowment fund, the Law Alumni Chapter, in conjunction with pre-law advisors Susan Liebell, Ph.D., and Chris Close, Ph.D., supports students by hosting lectures like the Honorable Joseph M. Nardi Jr. ’53 Symposium on Law and Justice on October 5, featuring Fordham School of Law Professor Carl Minzner J.D., speaking on the role of law in China, along with networking events where students can mingle with attorneys. The chapter also sponsors awards for students or recent graduates heading to law school and an award for a student who has achieved excellence as part of the “Justice and Ethics in the Law” minor.
To help pre-law students prepare for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), the chapter subsidizes a portion of an on-campus prep course.
“It’s important for the SJU Law Alumni chapter to help students interested in the legal profession,” said Law Alumni Chapter President Denise Vicario, Esq. ’93, the chief deputy court administrator in Montgomery County, Pa. “The chapter places particular importance on supporting those Hawks who come after us and so we subsidize the review course. Our support helps students be as focused and prepared as possible for the examination.”
In the past year, the course has undergone major changes. While SJU pre-law students used to take a costly Kaplan or Princeton Review LSAT prep course, they now sit for a custom curriculum taught by Raymond Coughlin, Ph.D., a Temple University math professor, whose math and logic courses have helped thousands of Temple’s pre-law students prepare for the LSAT. Coughlin’s course focuses on logic, logic puzzles and the strategy behind solving them and helps students understand the elementary logic of the LSAT.
“The course is different from others,” said Career Development Center Assistant Director Christine Falcone, “because it does not ‘teach the test,’ but instead teaches students how to understand the answer thoroughly so they develop a solid foundation in logic and critical reasoning.”
It’s hard to argue with the results. This past year, 25 students took the prep course and saw an average of a 10-point jump on their LSAT scores from the first to final practice test. Of the students who were enrolled in standard prep courses alongside Coughlin’s course, 100 percent claimed to see greater value in the course offered by SJU.
– By Kevin Kaufman
For those Saint Joseph’s University alumni who seek to bolster their professional network, the SJU Alumni Association sponsors career-oriented affinity chapters. Each of the following chapters give back to SJU and its students in numerous ways, including sponsoring panel discussions and networking events.
For additional information, contact Director of Alumni Networks Shannon Groves at 610-660-3294.
Take the Call: Give SJU students the career advice you wish you received
SJU Connects is an online platform that facilitates one-to-one career consultations among SJU alumni, students, parents and friends. There are three ways you can share your expertise:
Mock Interviews: Help students practice for that big interview.
Career Chats: Talk directly to SJU students about your experience in their career fields of interest, covering topics such as industry and employer insights or a graduate/professional school search.
Resume Critiques: Review students’ resumes and give inline recommendations and high-level advice.