Cabrini Graduate Student Success
Cabrini University's graduate alumni are doing great things in the world. They are using their professional degree to advance their careers and to help others around the world.
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Making Strides in Research and Leadership
Janet Gervais (’96 G’14)
Two-time Cabrini graduate Janet Gervais CE’96, G’14 spends the better part of her day in a laboratory, cloning DNA and protein sequences to target, or identify, a variety of diseases. Each day she commits herself to the development of therapeutic medicines that could provide groundbreaking solutions to illnesses.
While her molecular contributions have the potential to produce significant results, Gervais is not content with containing her service to the lab.
Gervais was born and raised in Jamaica, where she worked as a microbiologist and was active in volunteer projects and youth groups. She relocated to St. Lucia, her husband’s birthplace, where she continued to balance both work and volunteering with organizations such as the Girl Scouts. When she moved to West Philadelphia in 1993, she wanted to find new service projects, but was hesitant to get involved. Intimidated by a somewhat more individualist culture and an already demanding schedule, Gervais found it difficult to find ways to help or determine where her support was needed. It took more than a decade for Gervais to reclaim her passion for service, a journey that began with Cabrini.
As an undergraduate transfer student at Cabrini in the 1990s, both she and her husband took classes to complete their biology degrees. Gervais and her husband, Alexis Gervais CE’96, balanced academics, work, involvement in the College’s International Club, and a family of three. They even brought their daughter to class when their schedules required it.
“Jeannelle told everyone she started college classes at age 6,” Gervais laughed.
After graduation, she worked as a molecular biologist and brought her microbiology skills to two small biotech companies before beginning her current position as an associate scientist at Janssen Research and Development.
After working in the sciences for more than a decade, Gervais wanted to advance her career and make a personal impact on the world around her. She researched graduate programs, and found that Cabrini’s master’s degree in leadership perfectly united her personal and professional goals.
“With social justice ingrained in Cabrini’s classes, I could be made more aware and get a better perspective of how to support people,” Gervais said, noting that she wanted to better understand how to empower people who are sometimes buried by inefficient systems. While a graduate student, she took what she was learning from her classes and applied it to her job, working with fellow scientists to resolve issues within the organization.
She gained a newfound confidence because of the leadership program. Instead of being unsure whether or not to get involved with opportunities in the community or at work, Gervais now takes the lead. In committees such as the Voice of the Bench Scientist (VOBS) at Janssen, she strives to create a better understanding between managers and bench scientists.
Gervais found herself working with youth groups again through a program her company offered, Bridges to Employment, which encourages high school students to become involved in the sciences.
At Cabrini, Gervais became one of the first graduate students to attend the service immersion trip in Guatemala. There, she worked with a team to build brick stoves, construct houses and mix soil to help with reforestation. Through these projects, Gervais saw firsthand how her research interests, including a capstone on “lean processes,” can assist people not just in work environments in the U.S. but also in global communities.
No longer insecure about if and when to help, the now twiceover Cabrini alumna feels like there is balance between her professional and personal efforts. She’s already planning future service opportunities with the College on domestic violence education initiatives and, she hopes, a reunion trip with her classmates in Guatemala.