When Jackie White ‘14 was a student at Syracuse University, she could be found working on any number of things—serving on the executive board of the student chapter of Nourish International, volunteering for the American Red Cross Club, majoring in biology and Spanish, studying abroad. Today, the College of Arts and Sciences alumna is busier than ever, preparing for the next chapter of her life. Her goal? To become a physician assistant.
Not that White plans to slow down any time soon. Kathryn Everly, professor of Spanish literature and culture in the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics in A&S, says White is the kind of student who never stops learning. In fact, it was during a study abroad trip in Madrid, Everly recalls, that White fell in love with Spanish culture, and has never looked back.
“It’s common to see students who want to work in the medical field populate Spanish classes,” Everly says. “But Jackie has more than just a strategic career move in mind. She genuinely loves Spanish language, history, and culture. I have no doubt that Jackie will succeed as a physician assistant because she puts a lot of thought into the connections between biology, Spanish, and health care.”
A&S recently caught up with White, a past resident of Clifton Park, New York and touting a new Brooklyn address, to find out what keeps her going:
How did the College of Arts and Sciences shape your life’s path?
Many A&S advisers encouraged me to take classes spanning multiple disciplines, and to be open to different career paths. So, I decided, early on, to major in biology. But taking classes and working with faculty in the Spanish [Language, Literature, and Culture] program sparked my interest in other things.
After studying abroad in Madrid, I chose to double major in Spanish [and biology]. A major obstacle that many healthcare providers face when working with patients is the language barrier. I believe that my proficiency in Spanish will be useful, and will set me apart from others also pursuing a career in medicine.
How does a liberal arts education translate into professional success?
Having a background in the liberal arts promotes cultural awareness and critical thinking. These skills are pertinent to being successful, regardless of your career path.
What surprised you about A&S?
Although the College of Arts and Sciences was very large, the faculty and staff arranged many events and activities that brought us together on a regular basis. As a result, I met many students from different majors. The College felt like a small community, one of which I was proud to be a part.