May 20, 2023

Making Her Directorial Debut

Alexis Jefferson Alexis Jefferson

Alexis Jefferson will make her professional directorial debut at the Pablo Center at the Confluence’s Wisconsin Shakespeare Festival in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

After a rigorous application process, she was selected to direct the festival’s New Works: Improbable Fiction Series in the Diverse Perspectives category. The series allows writers and artists from across the region and the country to showcase their talents in the form of original theatrical works.

As director, Jefferson will be able to select the play she wants to direct from approximately 250 submissions and will participate in the casting process as well.

Though it is her first professional staging, her upcoming production in Wisconsin is not her first directing experience. At Susquehanna, she directed the comedy-drama Benchmarks by Glenn Alterman. She also wrote a play for SU’s 24-hour Film Festival.

“I love to be able to see what I have envisioned come to life on stage,” Jefferson said of directing. “And I love working with people and pulling things out of people and then putting that on stage.”

Jefferson, of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in theatre with an emphasis in performance. Her ultimate career goals are to write, direct and act in films. After her experience with the Wisconsin Shakespeare Festival wraps up in July, she hopes to transition into filmmaking.

“I aspire to tell stories that aren’t often told and to create art that reflects our world through the representation of various cultures, identities and stories,” Jefferson said. “I believe that art can create change or be used as a catalyst for change, so I hope that through the stories I tell and create, I am effecting positive change.”

Taking His Talent to Charm City

Jacob Brenner posed outside beside a tree Jacob Brenner

Jacob Brenner views graphic design less as an art and more as a problem-solving device.

After earning his Bachelor of Fine Arts, the Carlisle, Pennsylvania, native will join Mission Media, a brand marketing agency in Baltimore. Brenner graduated summa cum laude with departmental honors.

“Graphic design is a good mix of everything I enjoy — creativity, problem-solving and making things for other people,” Brenner said. “Graphic design is everywhere, and everyone needs it.”

Brenner credits Amanda Lenig, department chair and assistant professor of graphic design, for alerting him to the opportunity. He said the interview process “just felt right,” and he secured his employment in early February.

“Amanda Lenig cares so much about the success of her students,” Brenner said. “She’d tell me when work needed to be improved, let me know when I missed the mark. And she celebrated every success to show me how much I’d improved.”

Since his first year at Susquehanna, Brenner worked at the Lore Degenstein Gallery, serving as manager during his junior and senior years. He has also worked as the graphic designer for Susquehanna’s Career Development Center.

“The graphic design department at SU is tough. But I am so much better for it,” Brenner said. “The program has pushed me to be the best I can be, taught me how to think critically, take and implement critique, and just be a good human. And I think that’s the most important thing.”

Answering the Call at Princeton Theological Seminary

Sydney Mastropasqua Sydney Mastropasqua

Sydney Mastropasqua said her majors in psychology and religious studies and minor in music were all integral to the call she is answering: pursuing a Master of Divinity at Princeton Theological Seminary.

“Studying psychology and religious studies together allowed me to gain a holistic education, which will be beneficial for my calling to the ministry,” Mastropasqua said.

The New Jersey native plans to eventually pursue a doctorate, with the goal of teaching at the undergraduate level or serving as a university chaplain. Mastropasqua said she chose Princeton because the university’s values align with her own.

“At Princeton, I know I will be able to express my love of learning, love of music and love of Christ with a diverse community equipping me to then go out into the world and serve with an understanding of faith, scholarship, community and service for ministry after seminary,” she said.

A member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Mastropasqua, who graduated summa cum laude with departmental honors, said she was called to the ministry while a student at Susquehanna.

“When I first came to Susquehanna, I was a psychology major only, but as I got more involved in religious and spiritual life both at school and at my home church, I knew getting a bachelor’s degree in religious studies was my calling,” she said. “I am so excited to fulfill my calling and am confident God has and will give me the gifts to sustain and carry others throughout their journey with our heavenly Father.”

Educating Children at the NY Botanical Garden

Catherine Forman Catherine FormanCatherine Forman graduated magna cum laude with departmental honors with a Bachelor of Science in biology and ecology, as well as a teaching certification, all of which will support her when she joins the staff at the New York Botanical Garden where she will create educational programming for students ages 9 to 14.

“Over my time at Susquehanna University, one of the biggest challenges I have faced is communication of scientific information to individuals who are not a part of my field. I want to bridge that communication gap,” Forman said. “If we as scientists cannot communicate information or our findings in an effective way to individuals who are not a part of our field, then what is the purpose of what we do?”

During her four years at Susquehanna, Forman worked under her advisor Jack Holt, professor of biology, as manager for the Susquehanna University Living Collection, teaching assistant, and research and camp counselor for the Stream Ecology Institute. In addition, through Matt Wilson, director of Susquehanna’s Center for Environmental Education and Research, she worked with the Chesapeake Conservancy to create educational signage for the CEER and Freshwater Research Institute to elaborate upon the projects and goals of the facilities.

“These experiences were gratifying and reaffirmed that I have a passion for teaching,” Forman said. “Dr. Holt encouraged me to take an education-based course for one of my electives, which developed into my pursuit of a teaching certification in addition to my degree.”

Ultimately, Forman, of Long Valley, New Jersey, wants to pursue this work as a career — creating interactive, educational programing that provides accessible, simplified information regarding a wide variety of topics related to ecology and biology, from botanical gardens, zoos and museums to national parks, conservancies and classrooms.

“The list is endless,” she said.

A U.S. Army Posting in South Korea

Samantha Marsh Samantha Marsh

Second Lt. Samantha Marsh will leave the United States for South Korea to serve as a medical services corps officer in the U.S. Army in the 568th Ground Ambulance Company.

“I have always wanted to go overseas, and when the opportunity came to compete for a spot to do so, I made sure to put forth my best effort,” Marsh said. “This has been a long journey in getting to where I am now and where I am going. I am lucky to be a part of the small percent of newly commissioned officers who are able to go overseas as a first duty station.”

Marsh, a native of Danville, Pennsylvania, graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. During her four years at Susquehanna, Marsh has been active in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, a four-year program designed to prepare college students for Army service as commissioned officers in the active Army, or part-time in the Army Reserve or Army National Guard. She graduated from Susquehanna as a Distinguished Military Graduate.

Marsh’s ultimate career goals include becoming a major in the U.S. Army, as well pursuing a doctorate in counseling or clinical psychology.

“I want to reach as many people as possible,” Marsh said, “and get to a place where I can really create change within the mental health world in the Army.”

Joining the Big 4 in Las Vegas

Thomas Simmers Thomas Simmers

On a whim, Thomas Simmers applied for a Las Vegas position with Big 4 accounting firm Deloitte — not expecting to get the job.

Simmers, a New Jersey native, is now headed for Vegas.

“I didn’t really expect to get the job,” Simmers said, “but since I did, I’m more than happy with my decision.”

Every student in Susquehanna University’s Sigmund Weis School of Business is guaranteed an internship, something Simmers took advantage of by completing not just one but two international internships — the first with Forte Markets, a legal tech firm based in London, and the second with Trashcoin, a recycling startup based in Germany.

Simmers, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in accounting, also was awarded his Certified Public Accountant license. In just four years, he earned the necessary 150 credit hours to sit for the CPA exam. As a result, he secured his Deloitte position in November of his senior year.

Dr. Ozlanski, Dr. Liu, Dr. Pomykalski and Professor Lauren Smith have all guided me and allowed me to choose a path that would be better suited to my personal goals,” Simmers said. “I would not be where I am today without all four of them.”

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