Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Jackie Wittke-Thompson Publishes Papers

Dr. Jackie Wittke-Thompson

Dr. Jackie Wittke-Thompson had two articles published in notable journals in the biology education community. She is a member of FlyCURE and the Genomics Education Partnership.

“FlyCURE is a group of geneticists from across the USA that are working to locate specific mutations that were created in the fruit fly by Dr. Jacob Kagey (PI). All the research work is done by undergraduate students under the supervision of a faculty member. USF students in my BIOL151 Beginning Investigative Experiences in Biology and BIOL255 Genetics courses have been part of this project,” she explained.

“The Genomics Education Partnership is a group of geneticists, bioinformaticists, biochemists, and more that are working together to annotate genes in different eukaryotic organisms (such as fruit fly, parasitoid wasps, and the Puerto Rican parrot). All the work is done by undergraduate students under the supervision of a faculty member. USF students in BIOL255 Genetics, BIOL322 Molecular Biology, and BIOL375/376 Advanced Investigative Experiences in Biology have been part of this project.”

Both publications are focused on the impact of these course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) on undergraduate students.

Read “Fly-CURE, a multi-institutional CURE using Drosophila, increases students’ confidence, sense of belonging, and persistence”

Alumni Spotlight: Molly Gunning-Scordo ’19

Molly Gunning-Scordo '19

Molly Gunning-Scordo, B.S., RTT graduated from the USF’s Radiation Therapy program here at the University of St. Francis in 2019 and is continuing her studies as a Saint by pursuing a master’s degree in Health Administration.

Molly ended her clinical internship at University of Chicago Medicine at Silver Cross Hospital and was hired as a staff therapist there following graduation. She took part in the Student Alumni Mentoring (SAM) program at USF both as a student and alumna. She is very involved as a clinical instructor for current USF radiation therapy students.

Molly plans to utilize the Health Administration graduate degree to pursue additional leadership roles and teach classes to radiation therapy students.

Molly’s advice to current radiologic science students: “Being able to help patients every day is a gift. Show them compassion and love with everything you do. Work hard and soon you will be taking the radiation therapy world by storm.”

Click here for or more information on the Radiation Therapy program at University of St. Francis!


Saint Spotlight: Tom Jeffries ’18, ’20

Tom Jeffries is an Alumni Board member and president of the Business Alumni Network (BAN).

Why did you choose USF and what degrees have you earned? 
I chose USF to pursue a finance degree and to also compete on the USF Fighting Saints baseball team as a pitcher. I earned a BBA in Finance and also a MBA in Finance from USF. My mother, Jennifer (Glovack) Jeffries ‘90, ‘13, is also a USF graduate. 

Where are you currently employed and how are you applying your major?  
I am currently employed at Freddie Mac working as an associate in the multifamily loan division. I underwrite multifamily loans in all 50 states for apartment buildings ranging from 5 to 100 units. I am applying my finance background every day at work. 

What are you excited for in your new role as the Business Alumni Network (BAN) president? 
I am excited to continue to give back at USF and hope to grow the BAN group and number of members. I am also on the Alumni Board and have been a mentor in the SAM program for a number of years. 

What have you accomplished since graduating from USF? 
Since I graduated from USF I have continued to grow personally and professionally. My background at USF has given me an edge in the banking industry and finance world.

How did attending USF change your life? 
Attending USF was a chance to attend a local university and earn a college degree. USF gave me a chance to attend a college with smaller class sizes and be able to play baseball collegiately and give back to the community. 

Who was your favorite professor and why? 
My favorite professor at USF was Dr. Steve Morrissette. He opened my eyes to a career in finance and banking, and to this day we still stay in touch. 

What is your lasting impression of USF? 
My lasting impression of USF is that it is a great university in Joliet and the college
provides ample opportunities to grow and make a difference in the world.

Favorite quote: “Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.”


Internships Add Value to USF Education

Internships are a great way for students to get in-field experience and explore potential careers. Take it from COBHA senior Caitlin Bruemmer, who recently designed and published a website for her internship at Innovative Kitchen and Bath in New Lenox, Illinois.

“I gained a lot of professionalism working at my internship over the summer. Much of my job there involved assisting the company in finding new opportunities to expand our inventory, so I spent a great deal of time arranging appointments and informing outside sales professionals of the company goals and values,” Bruemmer said.

“I definitely have USF to thank for some of the communication skills I utilized during my internship. The many writing pieces and presentations I have had to prepare in my business classes contributed to my ability to design the company’s website.”

Almost every undergraduate student at USF will have the opportunity to do an internship at some point in their academic career. Internships give  students real-world experience and professional skills to be used in future career endeavors, as well as unique learning opportunities you can’t find in a classroom alone.

“Throughout my internship, I learned how vital marketing strategy is for companies that are just starting out. The company should know how to best reach and attract its target customer. Otherwise, the future success of the company can become uncertain. When writing content for the website, I had to choose specific words that I knew would make our company stand out over our competitors. My internship was overall a great learning experience that I am grateful to have completed,” said Bruemmer.

To find your own internship opportunities, visit the USF Career Success Center in person or online at stfrancis.edu/career-success-center.

Dan Knapp Talks Social Work

dan knapp headshotVisiting professor Dan Knapp, Ph.D., LSW, USF’s Bachelor of Social Work program director, was recently interviewed recently by an online social work resource called “MSW Online.” Read his expert advice about pursuing a BSW (and consider USF for yours!)

What are the most important factors for students deciding on a BSW program?
Many students have a strong passion for what they want to learn in addition to how they want to apply that learning. One of the most important factors for deciding on a BSW program is to follow that passion. For example, many people who enter the helping profession have a strong desire to improve the lives of others or advance some process or policy that influences others. A social work degree effectively prepares students to become these change agents.

What kinds of hands-on or fieldwork experiences are available to your BSW students?
Students are offered very diverse opportunities. These opportunities can include, but are not limited to, experiences in healthcare (i.e., hospitals or nursing home-related), child welfare agencies, county services, schools, advocacy centers, and crisis centers to name a few. Students will have opportunities to work with a wide range of populations throughout the developmental periods (i.e., adolescents through late states of life), veterans, homelessness, people of varying cultural or racial backgrounds, and those with mental illness as examples.

Can students take electives, or customize their BSW experience?
Students are required to enroll in specific foundational courses that effectively prepare them to work with diverse populations. In addition, students have opportunities to register for additional elective courses that can provide added experiences to specific areas of social work practice.

What does it take to be successful as a BSW student?
A strong desire to learn and help others. As a part of any clinical practice, students must have a desire to improve themselves first. This means taking the time to learn and assess their strengths and talents. Then, students can apply the skills and knowledge learned to help others.

What types of jobs are BSW graduates finding?
Students are finding jobs within hospitals, nursing home facilities, advocacy centers, and activity directors for mentorship programs to name a few. Many students elect to enroll in the one-year MSW program to obtain their master’s in social work degree which effectively opens opportunities for jobs such as other areas of healthcare, schools, private practice, etc.

If you had to choose one or two books, articles, documentaries, podcasts, etc. to be included on a required reading list for social work students, what would it be?
This is a great question, and I would always recommend students to invest time into recently published materials found on the scholarly databases. For example, what is currently literature saying about people’s mental health given COVID-19 and how does this compare to prior decades? How are different cultures or racial groups being impacted? Now, if I have to truly provide one resource, I have always enjoyed the video called The Secret Life of the Brain which helps students understand the power of the brain on human functioning.

Saint Spotlight: Tevin Hopkins ’16

Saint Spotlight: Tevin Hopkins ’16

tevin hopkinsPolitical Science alumnus Tevin Hopkins is making a name for himself as an associate attorney in Chicago. Below he answers a few questions about his professional journey and how life at USF prepared him for it. 

What is your current position and employer?
I am currently an associate attorney at Nixon Peabody LLP in Chicago.

What has been your professional journey?  
My professional journey is still rather short! I’m currently a second year associate and I practice general commercial litigation. Being so young still, I’m doing a lot of learning and still have a lot to learn about how to be a good attorney. Thankfully, I’ve had some amazing to people to learn from and I’ve never regretted my choice to go to law school and become an attorney. 

What drew you to studying law?
I’ve always been fascinated with solving complex problems. The thought of going to law school first crossed my mind while I was at USF. I was involved in several campus organizations which all required problem solving skills. Solving problems while serving in leadership roles in these organizations was especially satisfying to me and, as an attorney, our primary goal is to solve problems for our clients.

How has the University of St. Francis prepared you for your career?
USF gave me unique opportunities to get involved in clubs, organizations, and sports that gave me several opportunities to think critically, problem solve, and grow my leadership skills. That, along with an effective curriculum helped prepare me for the difficulties of law school and, ultimately, my career. 

How have you stayed engaged with USF as an alumnus?
I am in the process of becoming a mentor for students seeking to follow similar career paths as mine. Now that I’m back in the Chicago area, I also plan on attending more alumni events. 

What is your advice to USF students hoping to enter law school?
Get involved! USF gives its students several opportunities to get involved in clubs and organizations. I think this is what sets USF apart from other universities. While these clubs provide for great social outlets, you also learn invaluable skills that will one day transfer over to your career and beyond. Being able to communicate and solve problems with groups of people will be skills you develop (whether you know it or not) and will be useful to you for the rest of your life. I would even say that developing these skills is just as important as getting good grades in the classroom. Good luck!