The Graduate School

Jessica Pierce, A Reflection Back

Most of you may know her as the student who led the Graduate Oath at the fall 2019 Hooding, but here at The Graduate School, we know her as Jessica Pierce, the student who is a reliable volunteer and an awesome student.

When Jessica was asked to recite the Graduate Oath at the fall 2019 Hooding, she began to reflect on all of the experiences at Augusta University (AU) that have brought her to this point. Jessica began her PhD in the biomedical sciences program in August 2014 and jumped in with both feet. During her time at AU she joined the Biomedical Student Association, Graduate Student Government Association and Graduate Student Council along with volunteering for a number of events held by the graduate school. In thinking about her involvement in extracurricular clubs and how it benefitted her during her program and prepared her for her future career, Jessica said, “Being involved in these organizations has allowed me to engage in a social outlet as well as build important relationships with other graduate students and faculty. These experiences have pushed me to maintain a focus on leadership development and community impact along with my research training and have challenged me to multitask in ways that I will likely have to as a full-time professional.”

In August 2015, after completing her first-year biomedical core curriculum, Jessica joined the laboratory of Dr. Meghan McGee-Lawrence, Associate Professor, Cell Biology and Anatomy as her first graduate student. Choosing a mentor is often one of the most important steps in a graduate student’s education. Jessica says, “It is incredibly important to ‘find the right fit’ in a mentor because each of us enters the program with a different level of training and a unique set of long-term goals. Additionally, it is important to find a mentor who values well-rounded training and will encourage you to pursue challenges that will augment your academic, professional, and inter-personal skills for success in your career,” … and find the right mentor, she did! When considering options for mentors, Jessica was looking for a mentor that would take the time to train her on techniques and support her participation in a variety of activities and training opportunities. She found all of those qualities in Dr. McGee-Lawrence. This partnership lead to Jessica being recognized for many awards and achievements in her research discoveries focused on age-related bone loss. When discussing Jessica’s future career, Dr. McGee-Lawrence said, “I’m proud to see her applying knowledge that she learned here in new situations.  I was a little sad to see her go, of course, but thrilled to see her end up pursuing a career in science with a great postdoctoral mentor…I expect to see great things from her new research directions there in the near future!”


In remembering back to the words of the oath that she recited on her final day as a graduate student, she recalls the, “powerful moment in which we (the graduates) revisited the values that brought us together in pursuit of degrees that would accelerate our careers and enable us to impact the world around us.”  Jessica is now pursuing a post-doctoral research position at Emory University in Atlanta, GA and we are excited to see her (continued) impact in biomedical research and on the world around her.

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