January 10, 2018

Jordan Zezza ’17 was set to pursue a doctorate in neuroscience—when he was sent down a different path by something a professor said in class.

Wade Johnson, associate professor of chemistry, advised his students to take advantage of any opportunities to blend their science background with business.

“Dr. Johnson would often give us great life advice and talk about our futures. I gained so much knowledge about graduate school, different career paths and important skills necessary to be successful from his lectures,” Zezza says.

Having trouble finding postgraduate research positions that suited his interests, the neuroscience major recalled Johnson’s advice and applied to the master’s in management and organizational leadership (MOL) program at Penn State’s Smeal College of Business.

The one-year program gives STEM undergraduate students like Zezza the opportunity to combine their analytical skills with business courses.

“I realized that this program will not close any doors for me, but potentially open a host of others,” Zezza says.

“The more and more I looked into it, I realized that I might be able to make a larger and more immediate impact on the lives of others in a business role in a healthcare organization or biopharmaceutical company,” he adds.

With this degree now under his belt, Zezza has accepted a job at Highmark Health in Pittsburgh, Pa. In June 2018, he’ll begin a two-year program as a leadership acceleration program associate.

“This program will allow me to gain exposure to all sides of a groundbreaking healthcare organization,” says Zezza.