Alumni panel shares career insights

Becky Tanner, Contributing Writer

Enthusiastic students, including many physics majors, heard several University alumni who currently work within the physics field speak at the Physics & Astronomy Alumni Career Panel on Feb. 16. Each of the speakers had a different story to share. They talked about how their physics backgrounds helped them become passionate about their careers today.

The first to speak was Tommy Franklin ’01. Franklin shared that following graduation, he participated in research in graduate school. When he graduated from MIT, he turned to his mentor for guidance about where to go next. He knew he did not want to sit at a bench all day as a researcher and did not feel his passions were best used in teaching. With that in mind, he did some soul-searching and found himself in patent law, a legal field that works with invention start-ups. Franklin expressed his love and passion for his current job during the talk. He admitted that it is a lot of work, but he is glad that he is able to use his physics background in another practical field.

After Franklin, Caitlyn Fitzherbert ’09 introduced herself and spoke about her life as a medical physicist at the Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia. Fitzherbert told the audience that the best part of her job is the ability to work with both patients and a team. As a medical physicist, Fitzherbert considers each patient on an individual level to decide a course of radiation treatment. She expressed how it was a great medium between being a physicist and a doctor because she loves interacting with people.

The next alumni speaker, Kevin Quinn’07, is a high school physics teacher. Quinn is often asked why he became a teacher with a computer science and physics degree at the University. To that question, Quinn answered that he’d rather spawn a new generation of physicists rather than just be one singular scientist.

Quinn said that he loves being a teacher because he is able to pick and choose what kind of activities students do on an everyday basis. He found that an interest in physics develops at a young age and wants to be part of that process.

Lastly, Jeff Boehmer ’09, a systems engineer at the Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems, shared some of his career experiences. Boehmer said that he is passionate about his field and the impact it has on users of the defense machines he builds. He told the audience that each day is an opportunity to learn at his job and it is something he is eternally grateful for. The panel was very impressed overall with the turnout and the enthusiasm of the students that attended.

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