A Clear Path Ahead: Pre-Professional Pathways Give Students a Head Start

Emily Barrett, assistant director of communications
Pre-law student Samantha Peisino pictured in front of the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office.
Pre-law pathway student Samantha Peisino '21 pictured in front of the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office.

A growing list of Widener’s pre-professional pathway programs is giving students personalized support and a clear path toward launching their dream careers. 

Take Samantha Peisino ’21, for example. The fourth-year criminal justice major, with minors in sociology and legal studies and analysis, enrolled in the university’s pre-law pathway to follow her passion for a career in law. 

“From the 5th grade, I knew I wanted to be a lawyer,” said Peisino. 

With tutoring assistance from faculty and staff with the pre-law program, Peisino was well-prepared for the notoriously rigorous Law School Admission Test, or LSAT, which was administered earlier this year. 

Now with practice exams under her belt, Peisino is gaining hands-on experience interning at the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office, where her work supports the office on various cases, trials, and helps her learn about the ins and outs of the courtroom. 

That personalized attention is the cornerstone of each of Widener’s seven pre-professional pathway programs, which recently expanded to include pre-veterinary, pre-pharmacy, and pre-dental tracks.

In the pre-dental program, Zan Usmani ’21 relies on the close relationships with his professors as he advances toward graduate school.

“I’ve never felt unsure about what the next steps of dental school were. I always had professors guiding me along my way,” Usmani said.

Widener’s faculty provided the biology major with consistent advice and preparation materials ahead of applying to dental school. From personal statements to participating in mock interviews, Usmani was confident his materials would stand out from the crowd. 

In addition to academic guidance, faculty-student relationships open the door to experiential learning through undergraduate research. 

Student standing in the rainforest in Peru
Zan Usmani during his trip to the Amazon Conservatory of Tropical Studies (ACTS) in northern Peru.

Early in his time at Widener, Usmani participated in undergraduate research, teaming up with classmates under the mentorship of distinguished faculty from Widener’s Department of Biology. The experience gave him the opportunity to travel to the Amazon Conservatory of Tropical Studies (ACTS) in northern Peru, to examine ratification of temperatures in the Amazon rainforest.

Michaela Jemison ‘23, a pre-medical/biology major, also knows the value of in-depth research experiences. 
According to Jemison, working alongside Biochemistry and Chemistry Professor Alexis Nagengast to study neurodegeneration patterns in fruit flies as part of investigations to help individuals struggling with Alzheimer’s, will set her apart when applying to medical school. 

Jemison presented her findings during the Summer Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) symposium to an audience of Widener students and faculty. 

“SURCA gave the opportunity to have hands-on research experience early on in my college career,” said Jemison. “It has truly prepared me for a future in practicing medicine.” 

Like Peisino and Usmani, Jemison also took advantage of her pathway program’s flexible design which enables her to minor in courses that speak her interests outside of medicine, such as African-American studies.

The African-American studies program, as Jemison explains, gives her a broader view and understanding of the medical issues and disparities faced by the different patient populations, many of whom she anticipates treating one day. 

“It helps me to be well-rounded in all aspects not just on the science side, but on the human side as well,” said Jemison. 

Explore All Pre-Professional Pathways

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