Asha Jacob ’18 is a Biology and Environmental Science major with a minor in English. Look out for her and many other students taking over our Undergraduate Admission Office on February 11th, 2018 for our #SJUtakeover!

It was both an accident and a stroke of luck when my mom and I walked into a research lab during Admitted Students Day. Believing the open door meant it was included in the lab tour, we happened upon a research student about to begin his experiment. Graciously, he let us into the lab and answered all our endless questions about his work and the Biology program. When we finally left my mom turned to me and said, “I can see that being you one day.”

As a senior currently working on a Departmental Honors Thesis for the Biology Department, those words now seem prophetic. With the support of my mentors, Drs. Grogan and Lund, I spend most of my days studying, completing a reconstruction, and describing a 323.3 million-year-old fossil fish from the Bear Gulch Limestone of Montana. It was these abundant research opportunities for undergraduates that led me to choose SJU as the place to earn my Biology degree.

I knew since high school that I wanted to major in Biology because this field deeply fascinates me. It offers explanations for mysteries while simultaneously leading us to new questions about our vibrant microscopic and macroscopic world. By participating in research, I knew that I would be able to explore my own questions and develop necessary skills as a scientist. At SJU, I have had the opportunity to do this as a research volunteer, a Summer Scholar, and now as an undergrad working on a thesis. I even had the opportunity to travel to Calgary in Alberta, Canada to present my research at the 77th Annual Meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology.

Although I entered college knowing I wanted to be a Biology major, I had no idea my experiences would lead me to a second passion. During the summer of my freshman year, I interned at the Philadelphia Zoo where I educated guests on climate change and other environmental issues. After the internship, I began my sophomore year as an executive board member of the SJU Chapter of Catholic Relief Services Ambassador Program. I was able to plan and lead climate justice dialogues within this organization and on the greater campus. I found it intriguing that an issue deeply entrenched in science could have far-reaching social justice implications. Both my internship and this organization led me to declare a second major in Environmental Science. Classes within this field have challenged me to make drastic lifestyle changes by becoming both more environmentally conscious and socially responsible in every decision I make.

Outside the lab and classroom, I am involved in a variety of organizations on campus. They have been instrumental in exploring a variety of interests and as a means to serve the St. Joe’s community. As a Hawk Host, I have been able to serve by providing tours for prospective students and their families. As a member of the Asian Student Association, I have been able to explore and appreciate diverse cultures and traditions unlike my own. I am also a member of Alpha Epsilon Delta, the pre-medical honors society; Sigma Tau Delta, the English Honors Society; and I am a John P. McNulty Fellow, which has provided me the opportunity to develop my skills as a leader and a scientist.

As graduation rapidly approaches, I realize how much St. Joe’s has been instrumental in shaping me into the woman I am today. Choosing a college is not only about choosing where you want to earn your degree, but deciding what type of individual you want to become at the end of the four years. The classes, organizations on campus, environment, and overall culture at SJU challenge you to become your best self academically, spiritually, and socially.