Equipped to Lead and Succeed

Kicking Off the New Year with a Degree — and a Job

by Mary McInerney, USF News

Valerie Lam ’23 spoke at her commencement Dec. 15, urging fellow School of Management undergraduates to look to the future.

For Lam, a business administration major, the future means starting a job at TIAA, the retirement fund, as a human resources associate in San Francisco. She got the job through the first friend she made at USF.

“And Career Services helped me prepare for a job application that has set me up for my success today,” Lam said.  

Before she starts her new job, Lam will wrap up her work as a middle school assistant at Breakthrough San Francisco, which supports young people on the path to college, and as a performer at ODC, a nonprofit dance company in the city. She credits USF with helping her find balance to follow her passion for dance as she pursues a business career.

“I had many professors offer guidance in crafting a career that felt most authentic and fulfilling to me by challenging me to consider how I will keep art in my life with my concurrent track in the corporate environment,” Lam said.

Three schools held commencement ceremonies this month: the School of Management, College of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Nursing and Health Professions (SONHP). Each of the student speakers describe their plans for the future, including jobs, and talk about how USF prepared them for the next step.

Arundhati Shelat, BA Communication Studies

“I am working as a strategic communications associate at a technology company, RCM Technologies, in San Francisco after I graduate. The numerous communications classes such as PR Campaigns, Communications and Rhetoric, Interpersonal Communication, [and] the Communication Internship class amongst many others helped prepare me for my role in pursuing a career in communications,” Shelat said.

“These classes have taught me how to be a critical thinker and an effective communicator, and I am excited to apply my skills in the corporate world. I will adhere to the Jesuit value of being a changemaker and continue volunteering with California Climate Action Corps on the weekends post-graduation.”

Jaden Clark, MA Professional Communication

“I will be moving to Austin to take on a full-time position at Social Factor, a social media agency founded in Texas. It represents Fortune 500 companies across the country and aids their social media strategy, monitoring, and other aspects of social media management,” Clark said.

“Everything I learned within my program has been directly applicable to my time as an intern at Social Factor and has been integral in building relationships and any work I’ve done there. I have been able to apply my knowledge about audience research, strategic planning, and technical writing — skills I honed in the MAPC program. I am beyond prepared as a professional, thanks to USF, and I’m so excited to see how far it takes me.”

Yliza Kimozave Ortiz, BS Nursing

“Looking forward to continuing to explore my choices after graduation, [and] I am motivated and open-minded as another chapter closes. I have had the pivotal experience of completing my preceptorship in Stanford's Emergency Department, my dream hospital. I intend to apply to their new-grad residency program after taking a few months off to ensure that I don’t grow jaded going into a field that I’m passionate about. This career path doesn’t only get me to go through life, but to grow through life. As I pursue my lifelong vocation as a nurse and health care provider, I will carry with me the principles and values fostered by USF as I become the healer I aspire to be,” Ortiz said.

“USF became my cornerstone for catalyzing change which wouldn’t have been possible if not for its diverse community and rich involvements. I was welcomed and encouraged by the people I share every space with to always reach for my full potential and so I did.”

Monique de Villa speaks at commencement
Monique de Villa speaks at the SONHP commencement.

Monique de Villa, MPH Public Health

“As a student, I was fortunate to get an internship with Neuroscape at UCSF for my Applied Practice Experience internship requirement as part of USF’s Master of Public Health (MPH) behavioral health program. My goal was to help increase the diversity of participants in a remote digital meditation research study so the benefits of the research are more generalizable to the population. Since I live in Merced, my preceptor and I recognized an opportunity to bring this research to my community. We applied for a diversity supplement and focused on community-engaged methods to support participant recruitment in the San Joaquin Valley. I wrote the proposed research activities based on what I learned in my MPH classes, which eventually served as the foundation for my Integrated Learning Experience capstone paper. Later in the summer, we learned that our application was approved and funded, and it was one of the most gratifying moments of my life! After commencement, I am excited to continue my work with Neuroscape in the San Joaquin Valley and focus on ensuring that our research is inclusive of historically underrepresented communities,” de Villa said.

“I am also continuing my education at USF in the digital health informatics master’s program as a Double Don. My peers and I are gaining context and learning about the implementation of artificial intelligence in health care while developing our technical skills in Python. As I look ahead to my career, I plan to integrate public health, community engagement, and evidence-based practices with digital health. I’m very grateful for my time at USF, as my studies have greatly influenced my interest and capacity to innovate solutions to enhance health outcomes for my community back home. The faculty, my peers, and the campus community have been instrumental in helping me reach academic and professional milestones.”

Cinthiya Joseph, MS Information Systems

“After graduation I’m going to stay and look for a job. And USF’s part in creating an amazing network with industry professionals and alumni who are leaders/business owners has definitely been a great source of help and hope in this journey,” Joseph said.