Posts Tagged ‘Alumni Guest Post’

Meet Alumnus Joseph McClellan, Vice President, Biosimilars Development Lead at Pfizer

January 17th, 2018 by msweeney

Name: Joseph E. McClellan

Class Year: 1995

Title: Vice President, Biosimilars Development Lead

Organization Name: Pfizer Essential Health Research and Development, Pfizer Inc.

 

In one sentence, what does your job entail?

At Pfizer, I lead the global development of a large portfolio of biosimilars (which are highly similar with respect to physiochemical characteristics, biological activity, pharmacokinetics, efficacy, and safety to originator biologic medicines) by ensuring that all development programs are (1.) aligned with Pfizer strategy, global regulatory guidances and country regulatory feedback; (2.) delivered in a timely and cost-effective manner relative to the development plans; and (3.) developed to the highest quality standards.

 

What were you involved in when you were on campus?

I spent a lot of great time with a fabulous group of roommates and friends throughout my four years at Holy Cross.  (I still do a lot with my senior-year Alumni 23 roommates, even after over 20 years post-graduation.)  Also, I participated in Honors Research in Chemistry and was a member of the Men’s Golf Team.

 

What was your major and how did it affect your career decisions?

I was a Chemistry major at Holy Cross with an interest in analytical chemistry and instrumentation.  After Holy Cross, I attained a Ph.D. in Chemistry and also completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship, both of which developed and evolved my knowledge of analytical chemistry and instrumentation, specifically in mass spectrometry.  To this day, I still consider myself a ‘Chemist’ and ‘Mass Spectrometrist’, even though I have not been a bench scientist in over 10 years.  All of my successes in chemistry and the biopharmaceutical industry can be traced to the foundation that I learned and developed at Holy Cross.

 

What planned and unplanned events connected you to your industry and your first employer after Holy Cross? How did you learn/decide it was a good fit for you? 

Directly after Holy Cross, I went to the University of Florida to pursue my Ph.D. in chemistry.  I chose UF based on a strong analytical chemistry program, which I was keenly interested in based on my Honors Research at Holy Cross.  After my Ph.D. and Postdoctoral Fellowship at Boston University School of Medicine, I began my career at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals in 2002, which was acquired by Pfizer Inc. in 2009.   From the outside and in retrospect, my path looks quite calculated and plodding.  However, at each turn every decision was ‘unplanned’ as none of these schools (including Holy Cross), programs, or company was my ‘first choice’ prior to the decision being made.  They all turned out to be the absolute right, best decision for me!  I have been very fortunate in this way and think that is a lesson for folks to recognize that we are often put in opportunities that provide opportunities for success and its vitally important for each individual put forth the optimum effort to succeed.  After 15 years, I am still with the same company, though I have had many distinct roles with ever evolving responsibilities throughout my career.

 

What are one or two skills that you developed at Holy Cross that you use in your work?

At Holy Cross, I learned about analytical chemistry, instrumentation, and mass analysis, which were the early foundation for both my Ph.D. and initial career at Pfizer.  These skills are still used today as I work with development teams and assess physiochemical data for our biosimilars programs.  More importantly, I learned how to be an individual researcher and solve complicated problems on my own at Holy Cross through the Honors Research program.  While team interactions are very important in science and the biopharmaceutical industry, the ability for a scientist to solve complicated problems by his or herself is an important part for both the scientist’s and the team’s success.

Meet Alumna Asmani Adhav ’17, Clinical Research Coordinator at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

January 17th, 2018 by eklamm
Class year: 2017
Major: Biology (with concentration in GSWS) on the Pre-Medical track
Employer: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Position: Clinical Research Coordinator- Pediatric Oncology/Hematologic Malignancy

What does your job entail?

I’m currently coordinating 14 research protocols, each of which seeks to improve survival outcomes for children with cancer. Specifically, the protocols I work on are geared towards using various therapies and techniques to tackle several different types of leukemias. There are three parts to my position: clinical interaction, regulatory organization, and data entry. Clinical interaction includes processing patient consent documents, enrolling patients onto study, following their progress through the study, communicating required research assessments to patient clinical teams, and shipping samples. Regulatory organization involves making sure that all investigators on a protocol have proper training, addressing queries that are raised by study sponsors, and ensuring that proper record-keeping is maintained throughout the study. Data entry is how all of the relevant health information for a patient on a protocol is de-identified and relayed to the study sponsor.

What planned and unplanned events connected you to your industry and your first employer after Holy Cross? How did you learn/decide it was a good fit for you?

I have only been working in this position for 3 months now, and have already learned an enormous amount of information and medical terminology that will help me with my career ambitions moving forward. The physicians I work with on a daily basis are not only experts in their fields, but approachable and willing to teach us as much as we want to learn from them.

How did your Holy Cross education affect your career decisions?

My Holy Cross education exceptionally prepared me for this position because it taught me how to learn quickly, organize large loads of work, and form meaningful connections with people- all skills that I now use daily.

Meet Alumna Samantha Moor, Associate Manager, Global Merchandising Outlet Handbags at Coach

January 17th, 2018 by msweeney

Name: Samantha Moor

Class Year: 2015

Title: Associate Manager, Global Merchandising Outlet Handbags

Organization Name: Coach

In one sentence, what does your job entail?

Creating seasonal line assortments through a strategic and creative lens & collaborating closely with cross functional partners.

What planned and unplanned events connected you to your industry and your first employer after Holy Cross? How did you learn/decide it was a good fit for you?  

I was always interested in fashion & the arts but I am also a very analytical and business orientated person so I wasn’t quite sure what industry I wanted to go into. While looking for internships for my rising senior year summer and talking to previous HC interns as well as alums in the industry, I applied to the Coach internship through the Holy Cross Summer Internship Program. I was studying abroad at the time so it felt harder being so disconnected to figure out my first step in my career path. Merchandising seemed like a good fit as the job is both creative and analytical and I was offered the Coach internship position. I had a great experience and worked with a great team. They asked me to come back and help during my Winter break and then offered me a full time position at the end of senior year.

What were you involved in when you were on campus?

I was involved in several clubs such as Spud, Business Program, HC for a Cure. I also interned for O’Keefe Investment management, a financial planning firm started by an HC alum in Worcester, during my senior year.

What was your major and how did it affect your career decisions?

I majored in Economics and minored in Art history. I think both of them combined is very applicable to merchandising – both business/strategic and creative. Economics especially is relatable to every industry so studying economics allowed me to explore other options before choosing fashion.

What are one or two skills that you developed at Holy Cross that you use in your work?

Work ethic!

What advice do you have for students on campus today?

My advice for job/intern searching would be to do as much research as you can – both on the company and talking to people about their careers and experiences.  Holy Cross has an amazing network of alums and a great career service center so just take advantage of all the resources available! Other advice is work hard, stay positive, and make sure you’re doing something you’re passionate about!

Meet Edgar D. Rodríguez ’16, Legislative Correspondent/Aide to Congresswoman Norma J. Torres

November 8th, 2017 by eklamm

Name: Edgar D. Rodríguez ’16
Title: Legislative Correspondent/Aide
Organization Name: United States House of Representatives; Congresswoman Norma J. Torres (CA-35)

In one sentence, what does your job entail?

I am responsible for managing the Congresswoman’s entire mail correspondence system between constituents and her office, as well as, using constituent input (among other avenues) to help advance her legislative agenda by proposing and drafting bill ideas.

What planned and unplanned events connected you to your industry and your first employer after Holy Cross?

My original plan was to return to my hometown (Pomona, CA) and work in the community expanding access to healthcare, specifically for U.S. citizen children of undocumented parents. However, after participating in the Washington Semester program in the fall of 2016 and receiving a job offer, I decided to stay in D.C.

How did you learn/decide it was a good fit for you?

While I truly enjoyed my internship on the Hill—especially since I was interning for my representative—I still had plans to return to my community. It wasn’t until the Congresswoman asked me to join her on the campaign trail the week leading up to the general election that I began contemplating the idea of staying in D.C. after graduation. Driving the Congresswoman around to multiple campaign stops in California and Nevada and seeing first-hand the issues that she was advocating for and how it related to the work she was doing in D.C., made me realize the possibility of doing the same in Washington. Immediately after returning from California, the Congresswoman offered me the position to stay and help her accomplish the work she advocated for on the campaign trail.

Rarely do you find D.C. staff working for their home representatives. I saw the need to stay here and work for my home representative and advocate for my community because I am from there and I understand the local issues.

What were you involved in when you were on campus?

I was involved quite extensively during my time at Holy Cross through the Student Government Association. I was the assistant to the SGA Director of Student Life my freshman year, a two-term Senator, and eventually Director of Diversity. Concurrently, I was also involved in the Pre-Business program, co-founded the RSO Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán (M.E.Ch.A. de Holy Cross) my sophomore year, took part of several service trips, was appointed to a couple of Presidential committees under the Office of Diversity, and founded the new center for students of color, among other things.

What was your major and how did it affect your career decisions?

I came to Holy Cross seeking an Economics Accounting major. However after my first year, that quickly changed to Political Science. While my major did not directly affect my career decisions, I have greatly benefitted from its instruction in my current job.

What are one or two skills that you developed at Holy Cross that you use in your work?

The two greatest skills that I developed at Holy Cross are the same ones that I utilize today on a daily basis. The first is the ability to manage people. Aside from handling a legislative portfolio for the Congresswoman, I also have the wonderful opportunity to manage our internship program. Understanding the weakness and strengths of people and knowing how to utilize them to the benefit of an organization is something that took quite a bit of trial and error during my time at Holy Cross. The second skill is perhaps more common: the ability to multitask and take on different projects at the same time. For a very long time, I was the type of person that always took more than they could handle simply because I wanted to do it all. Learning to understand your capacity as a leader and how to effectively manage multiple projects early on has truly helped me balance my innate feeling of wanting to take on a lot and doing a good job at it.

What advice do you have for students on campus interested in the Communications / PR field?

I think students always fall short of pursuing their passions and, more often than not, pursue what makes them feel secure and not what challenges them. My advice for students is to try to escape the fear of judgement.

Pursue what makes you grow. There are passions out there that you may discover along the way, passions that you never knew you had. And that might not only impact your life in a positive way, but the lives of those around you as well.

I Was a Political Science Major, Now I am a First Year Associate

October 11th, 2017 by eklamm

Meet Jonathan Casseus ’14, First Year Associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP in Boston.

In one sentence, what does your job entail?

My job essentially is that I am a lawyer in a big law firm conducting litigation for large companies on a variety of issues ranging from class actions to securities litigation.

What planned and unplanned events connected you to your industry and your first employer after Holy Cross? How did you learn/decide it was a good fit for you?

I always knew that I wanted to go to law school ever since I stepped foot on campus at Holy Cross. I tailored my course selection to prepare me to fulfill that dream. I noticed that the courses matched my passions while at Holy Cross and in law school, I continued to love what I was learning, proving how much of a great fit it was.

What were you involved in when you were on campus?

Sound of St. James All-Male Acapella Group, RA in Mulledy for 2 years, MPE, Peer Mentors, Brother to Brother Committee, WHCH Sports (Broadcaster for Basketball), Intramural Soccer, Co-Chair of BSU in 2013, Treasurer in 2012, and Freshman Apprentice in 2011.

What was your major and how did it affect your career decisions?

Political Science. The courses really helped me understand how the law can shape countries and states, and the writing equipped me with tools that I still use up to this day.

What are one or two skills that you developed at Holy Cross that you use in your work?

I learned how to have a disciplined work ethic to meet various deadlines especially when they all fall around the same time period. All the “hell weeks” prepared me for the times when law school got really tough. Moreover, I learned how to constantly reflect on my journey and my purpose and that has aided me in putting things in perspective and reminds me why I wake up doing what I always wanted to do.

What advice do you have for students on campus today?

If you have a goal or dream, take your academics by the horns and try to gear yourself towards that goal as best as you can. Also, do not take Holy Cross for granted, the school is preparing you to do great things, however, selling yourself short or cutting corners will not allow you to reap those benefits.

ALUMNI INTERVIEW: I was a double major in mathematics and physics, now I…

September 11th, 2017 by eklamm

Meet Alison Cheung ’06, Engineer at MIT Lincoln Laboratory.

In one sentence, what does your job entail?

I work sensors such as a large optical telescope to monitor the space environment and enable the nation to meet the challenges of an increasingly congested and contested space domain.

What planned and unplanned events connected you to your industry and your first employer after Holy Cross? How did you learn/decide it was a good fit for you?

During my sophomore year at Holy Cross, I was informed of an opportunity via email from the physics department to get funding through the Massachusetts Space Grant Consortium for a summer internship at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).  I had been looking at various internship opportunities from the financial industry to the department of defense, but had not previously thought about NASA or the space industry.  After submitting a resume and talking to a mentor at JPL, I jumped on this opportunity.  I worked hard that summer, had frequent conversations with my mentor, and fell in love with the work environment and the space missions.  This resulted in me returning for a total of three summers under the same mentors but with exposure to various mission areas.  Knowing that a graduate degree is incredibly valuable in this type of environment, I attended graduate school but kept in contact with my JPL mentors.  After completing my master’s degree, I chose to return to JPL as full-time staff.

What were you involved in when you were on campus?

On campus I was involved in the marching band/pep band, Holy Cross Chamber Orchestra, Society of Physics Students, Science Student Ambassadors, SPUD, and admissions office host for prospective students.

What was your major and how did it affect your career decisions?

I was a double major in mathematics and physics.  I always had a hard time picking a favorite between these majors and struggled to decide which area to go to graduate school in.  Ultimately, I looked for ways to keep a balance of both fields and have continued to do so.

What are one or two skills that you developed at Holy Cross that you use in your work?

My first exposure to MATLAB was at Holy Cross during my senior year and have continued to use MATLAB on a regular basis since then.  Additionally, Holy Cross helped me develop my communication and interpersonal skills that often set me apart from others in my field.

What advice do you have for students on campus today?

My largest piece of advice for students on campus today is to seize any opportunity that comes your way and work hard to make a positive impression.  This could mean being the first to submit a resume or respond to an email.  Don’t worry about how the opportunity came about and don’t doubt your qualifications.  Imposter syndrome is a real thing.  Instead of thinking about why you were given an opportunity, put your energy into making the most of that opportunity so that it leads to further opportunities.  When gaps in your knowledge arise, ask good questions and continuously improve.

ALUMNI INTERVIEW: I Was A Political Science Major, Now I…

May 3rd, 2017 by eklamm

Name: Payton Shubrick
Class Year: 2015
Title: R&D Lab Manager (Research and Development Lab Manager)
Organization Name: MassMutual
Major: Political Science

What does your job entail?

My role is to manage R&D activities for the company, specific to home office employees. What that means is I attempt to solve business problems leveraging emerging technologies as well as exploring technologies that could impact our industry in the next 12-18 months. What does that mean in plain English? I look for the return on investment a technology can offer. Can we save 2 million dollars be leveraging VR for training sessions as opposed to the current model of paying facilitators and having in classroom sessions?

How has your Holy Cross education contributed to your success?

My Holy Cross education has contributed to my success in many ways. At Holy Cross, I was able to grow – socially, intellectually, ethically, etc. I often find myself harnessing skills that I developed in both the classroom and student activities, like SGA and BSU, to propel me forward professionally. At Holy Cross, I was able to develop a greater sense of awareness of who I was as a person and how I can impact the world around me. With that mindset, you can rethink traditional business problems with many lenses to come up with a solution and then be able to present that idea in a well-written document or verbal presentation.

What skills are most important in your day to day work?

The most important skill in my work is being able to check, adjust, and pivot. Unlike traditional career paths with technology, you can come up with a solution and then discard the entire thing for something better because a smart algorithm can now be applied. This means you can’t grow too attached to one solution or one way to solve a problem. Everything is a fair game all the time and things change rapidly, so accept change early and fast to make life easier later.

What advice would you give to a Holy Cross student looking to enter your field?

Start studying trends in technology now. Virtual/ augmented reality, chatbots, algorithms, autonomous driving cars, artificial intelligence are real and going to change the world around us. In your day to day, life start to think about how things can simplify your life and delivery information before you know you want it.

Alumni Guest Post: Tricia Dunn ’12

April 30th, 2013 by mklync13

To round out our Alumni Guest Posts for the 2012-13 year, we’re happy to present Tricia Dunn ’12, former HC Career Planning Marketing Intern (& Blogger!) and current member of the Human Resources team at Hanover Insurance Group.

Check out more about her job & advice for students pursuing a career at Hanover or in HR!
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Hi Crusaders! It’s hard to believe that almost a year has passed since I graduated. And yet, while it

Tricia Dunn ’12

seems like just yesterday I was enjoying Cape Week and pre-graduation celebrations at the Pub, so much has happened since then that I can’t believe college was only a year ago.

I’m currently going on a year at The Hanover Insurance Group, where I work in the Human Resources department and am part of the company’s Future Leader’s Program. I’ve been lucky to try a variety of projects during this year here and am learning a lot. While I have enjoyed this past year and the growth and change it has brought, I will admit I do get a little nostalgic for HC sometimes. So, in that spirit, let’s pretend we’re meeting up in the pub for a $2 beer (side note: do any of you realize how great this is?!) and I’ll share what I’ve been up to over the past few months.

How did I end up at Hanover?

 

I first learned about The Hanover as a junior looking for internships. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and was applying to internships in a variety of fields and locations. Two young alumni had a lobby table in Hogan and were recruiting for The Hanover—with cupcakes.  No joke, I first learned about The Hanover due to my insatiable hunger for baked goods. One of them asked me if I was interested in applying for the internship program. Since I wasn’t really thinking about insurance, I didn’t take it seriously at first, but their enthusiasm for the company took me aback and I found myself connecting with a lot of the things they mentioned. The more I learned about Hanover, the more it sounded like a place I could like.

Fast forward three months and I returned to Holy Cross having enjoyed my internship and with an offer in hand for a full time position as part of The Hanover’s Future Leaders Program. While it was a little nerve wracking to commit to a company so soon into senior year, I was excited to join the program. I liked the idea of joining a training program in which I would be given more growth opportunities, mentorship, and cross-functional training.

Through the program, I’ll get a certificate in Business Analysis, learn about other business functions and get more access to leadership and mentoring opportunities than I probably would have otherwise. Also, I started with 40 other people – many of which I’ve become great friends with!

What do you specifically do there?

This is tough for me to answer because I worked on a diverse set of projects. I am currently in HR Operations, which supports and designs tactical solutions to get done in our department. In essence, we’re the back end people, on the ground, making sure everything runs smoothly. For example, I manage our relocation program; so when the company hires a new employee who needs to move for the job, I help set them up with our relocation vendor. I consult with the HR recruiters who are making the offer, manage vendor to ensure that it is meeting our employee’s need, pay invoices and run financial reports for our finance department.

I have also done some process improvement work for our Learning & Development group, which hosts and manages all of the enterprise-wide classes and learning programs. I took a look at how the operational work was being accomplished: how the online class sign up system worked, how the classes were being set up and hosted, etc., and was able to identify issues and and make recommendations to improve the user experience and improve efficiency. This project was fun because I got to do a lot of consulting work and the impact of my work was noticeable right away!

I think Operations was a good place to start because it provided me with foundational knowledge about

Co-workers decorate Tricia’s office!

the department and exposed me to all of the different areas within it. However, as I approach my one year mark with the company, I’m looking forward to trying something new. As of June, I will still be in HR, but I’ll be working with our Community Relations & Employee Engagement group. I’ve already begun to take on some more work in this area and am really enjoying it!  I am currently managing the redesign of our career site (stay tuned for improvements!), writing pieces for our internal company newsletter, and planning events with our community partners.  I’m looking forward to taking on more roles with marketing and helping others.

While I’m still not exactly sure what I want to do long-term, I am really happy to be where I am today. As mentioned, I am happy for my year in Operations, but I’ve always known I wanted to get into something more community-focused and more creative. Thankfully, I have had a lot of advocates at The Hanover who have mentored me and helped me get into this new role. As for long-term plans, I think the next year will be telling. I plan to continue to take on a diversity of projects to stretch my skills and interests in new ways. I think by doing this I will discern the next step most clearly and with the experiences I’ve had at HC and The Hanover I believe I’ll be ready to take it on!

Any advice for college students?

 

Yes! I have three that alumni have passed on to me and that I have learned in my one year in the proverbial real world:

1. Focus on the job role, not the job title.

Titles can be misleading and box you in to a job search. While titles hint at hint at what a job entails, there is usually more than meets the eye. It’s more accurate to approach a job by thinking about what you want your daily life to look like – do you like working with people? Doing something creative? Analytical? Are you passionate about research? Whatever that be, focus on those descriptive words and the type of work which you are seeking – rather than a title.

2. Advocate for what you’re interested in…

As a political science major and a studio art minor, I knew that Excel spreadsheets all day were not going to be my jam. Early on at my time at Hanover, I found myself enjoying my projects which were more creative, solidifying my interest in that area. I made sure my manager, mentors and others knew about it. As a result, I’ve been given more creative opportunities in my current position and will be transitioning to a more creative role full-time as of June.

3. …But be open.

As a newbie to the workforce, you’re bound to be doing projects and tasks you never thought you’d be interested in. Yeah, some of those projects are going to suck as much as you expected them to, but guaranteed you will learn something—and maybe even develop new interests—if you are open to it.

4. Drink more $2 beer.

Just kidding. Sort of. Have fun and enjoy the heck out of your time at Holy Cross! It’s a great experience and I encourage you all to make the most of your time there, in the classrooms, on the fields, in extracurricular and yes, even socially.

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Alumni Guest Post: Ty Shaw ’09

February 25th, 2013 by mklync13

Kicking off our Alumni Guest Post series for the Spring Semester, Ty Shaw ’09 discusses how his post grad life led to his current role as a Business Development Consultant at Oracle!

Ty Shaw '09

Job prospects were few and far between when I left “The Cross” in 2009.  America was in the midst of the modern day great depression.  I soon learned the importance of humility, perseverance and strong networking–or as I say, making new friends and embracing old ones.

During my senior year I had one solid job prospect in an industry and location I didn’t want to be in after college, so instead of taking the job, I chose to go back home to Denver, CO.   At the time I was so wrapped up in my own ego and my sense of entitlement that I could not truly understand how tough the economy was.  I was fixed on the thought that I had a great degree from Holy Cross (which I did), and that was all I needed to land a good job.  I was sadly awakened when I spent almost my first year after graduation working with a staffing firm (temp. agency) to keep my resume/skills current.

During that year with the staffing firm, I was humbled.  I could not find permanent work, and I had sent in around one hundred applications and hadn’t landed any interviews.  My dad soon came to me and said “Son, you have to get around the movers and the shakers.”  So that’s what I did, networking became a part of my daily routine.  And I can’t stress enough how important it is to meet people doing things that you think you may be interested in because most companies don’t waste their time looking at resumes where there is no referral with it.  I began to connect with Holy Cross alumni in Colorado that I found off the Holy Cross alumni website, and I joined meetup groups (meetup.com) so that I could mingle with people that were doing the work I wanted to do.  Each networking experience helped me to realize that the best networkers are those that make genuine friends.  In this world we can never have too many genuine people in our lives that want to help and are open to being helped.

After networking in Colorado (and a few jobs later), I thought getting back to HC for a spring football game would be a good idea for me to reunite with old friends and teammates.  And I was right! Going back to HC is what led to my current opportunity at Oracle.  A Holy Cross teammate and friend told me about openings at Oracle and how he was recently hired—and this connection helped lead to my current job.

In my role, I am working as a Business Development Consultant (BDC) for Oracle.  I am responsible for prospecting into companies that have technology issues.  On a day to day basis, I perform in-depth research on these companies to gain a deep understanding of their business.  Also, I am researching to see how Oracle can add value to what they do.  Most of the companies I work with are public so I am able to read their 10k reports to understand their business and see if we can help.

Once I’m done researching companies online that I want to call into, I find people within the company to speak with.  There are a plethora of prospecting tools Oracle has available to BDC’s to use in order to find the right person in a company to speak business with.  The number one goal is to first build rapport with the prospect, and after connecting on a humanly level, I go on to better understand that person’s role inside the company they work for.  Then we get down to business, I ask questions to see if we can add value, and if there is a business pain I proceed to set up a next call to help facilitate the sales process.  My main job is pre-sales, so I do the research, find the business problem and build the relationship before facilitating the rest of the sales process with my sales team.  I also provide advice to my sales team on how we can drive business in their territory based off of the research I find.  Ultimately, I am in the business of helping the customer first and driving revenue second.

My opportunity at Oracle wouldn’t have been possible without my new-found sense of humility, perseverance, and the Holy Cross Alumni community.  The lessons that I have learned are things that I hope that you all can take with you before graduating.  Think long and hard about what you want to do, what will fulfill you, where you want to live, and what kind of work you will be proud of.  In nearly being out of college four years, I’m just now feeling like I’m heading down a path to fulfillment.  A Chu!  Chu!  Rah!  Rah! For Holy Cross!

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Alumni Guest Post: Priscilla Lam ’12

November 12th, 2012 by mklync13

Next up in our Alumni Guest Post series: Priscilla Lam ’12 discusses her role as a clinical research coordinator in the Center for Neuro-Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute!

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Priscilla Lam ’12

I could not have been more ecstatic when I received a phone call from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (Boston, MA) during senior week with an offer to be the new clinical research coordinator in the Center for Neuro-Oncology. Without any hesitation, I immediately accepted the job offer even though I was informed that the start date of my job would be June 4th (exactly 9 days after graduation!). Everything felt like a whirlwind, but I was very excited to begin a new chapter of my life in Boston.

It is hard to believe that I have been working at Dana-Farber for over four months now. Dana-Farber is an outpatient clinic that is directly connected to Brigham and Women’s Hospital (inpatient). I absolutely love working here. Sometimes it feels like I never left Holy Cross because I work with three other Holy Cross alums in my department and I am constantly running into Holy Cross grads from all years working in various disease centers at Dana-Farber.

The responsibilities of a clinical research coordinator differ slightly depending on the disease center. In Neuro, the majority of the patients I work with are Glioblastoma patients. I am responsible for knowing several clinical trials and being familiar with protocol requirements. Our primary responsibility is data entry and management. We are responsible for entering medical/surgical history information, lab values, concomitant medications, adverse events, etc. in the database for each clinical trial participant for sponsors to review. We have monitors (a representative hired by the sponsor, usually from a pharmaceutical company) come in once a month for every clinical trial to review our data and ensure that all data are properly documented and captured. They issue queries and we are required to answer these queries in a timely manner. Research coordinators are essentially the primary point person between the industry sponsor and the research team at Dana-Farber. We also have regulatory responsibilities such as submitting Serious Adverse Event reports to the Dana-Farber Internal Review Board and the industry sponsor. Other duties include preparing research tubes/kits and flow-sheets for nurses, shipping samples, requesting pathology, scheduling clinic visit appointments and MRIs, [and] communicating with patients, ordering labs, being in attendance when physicians screen/consent patients for potential trials, reviewing provider notes to ensure that there is proper source documentation for data, and organizing/prepping patient charts to be ready for monitor visits and future audits.

Most of the research coordinators work in the Longwood Galleria offices while clinic is in the Yawkey Building. Every day is different. This is not a typical 9-5pm job. Things come up spontaneously and each day is completely unpredictable. Generally, clinic days tend to be busier because that is when our patients come in for visits. I learn something new every day. This job can be challenging and demanding at times, but overall very rewarding. It is interesting to see research from a clinical perspective and being part of the research care team is fulfilling.

Clinical trials give patients a sense of hope. Clinical trials investigate specific experimental drugs not yet approved by the FDA and explore novel cancer therapies, as well as implement standard of care treatment in hopes of finding new and effective treatments for patients.

My favorite part of this job is being a contributing member of the research team and having the opportunity to experience full clinical exposure. I also take much pride in being able to work at an institute that offers state-of-the-art treatment for patients, with renowned physicians and experts on brain tumors, and a team of compassionate individuals consisting of neuro-oncologists, researchers, nurses, and PA. I could not have asked for a better place to be after graduating from Holy Cross. Everyday, I find myself inspired by patients, their families, and the support and care that clinicians provide to patients. This job has definitely helped reinforce my dreams of pursing a future career in medicine. I cannot thank the Holy Cross faculty, staff, and alumni network enough for opening my eyes to the opportunities that can be had working as a Clinical Research Coordinator at Dana-Farber.

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