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Postgrad: Jamie Sokol ’05

Jamie graduated in 2005 with a BA in Health and Society and a minor in Psychology. While at Rochester, she was an editor of the Campus Times and served as a research assistant at the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center. After graduation, she earned a master’s degree in public health from the University of Pittsburgh. Currently, she works for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in the Bureau of Tobacco Control. This blog post is part of a continuing series about Jamie, her time at the University of Rochester, and her life post-graduation.

By Jamie Sokol

Meliora Moment

I recently received an email asking me to share a “Meliora Moment” as part of a project designed to tell the Rochester story through a collection of individual memories and experiences. At first, I thought the U of R had to be kidding—pick one moment that defined my time in Rochester? Surely this was an impossible request. But in the spirit of “ever better,” I put my on my thinking cap and realized that this wasn’t so hard after all.

There are likely thousands of Rochester alumni out there typing away about the moment they knew they wanted to go to law school, or the class that inspired them to become a journalist. I could probably sit here and write something similar, but in all honesty, I never really felt that I had an “a-ha” moment like that at Rochester. I came with an academic plan, followed it, and found some time to edit the Campus Times along the way.

But here’s what I did have: a moment, somewhere in the middle of my four years, when I came to realize that the opportunities tied to a Rochester education are truly endless. That’s the beauty of the University of Rochester. Everything (and everyone) leads you somewhere—and often not where you expect.

I never once encountered a dead end in my four years at Rochester. Every professor I studied with, every class I took, and every person I met opened a door to incredible opportunities, both personally and professionally. During my sophomore year, I signed on as a research assistant for Project 50 Plus, a multi-county smoking cessation program for adults in western New York. Although I’d never had a cigarette, I became fascinated by tobacco use as a health behavior, and did whatever I could to incorporate it into my health and society major. What I thought would be a simple reprieve from my academic coursework ended up laying the groundwork for the rest of my major, my graduate studies, and even my career. Who would have thought!

I take great pride in my Rochester experience, and I know I am not alone. I’m looking forward to seeing how the Meliora Moments project unfolds—a community as diverse as the U of R should make for some wonderful stories!

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