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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

The Right Choice

It’s hard to believe that nine years have passed since I first arrived at the U of R, but I think it’s safe to say that my “Rochester experience” started long before that. Both of my parents had attended the school and always made sure to share with me lots of wisdom they acquired during their time there. (Only the most important things, of course, like how to save a parking spot after shoveling out your car.) Rochester was their place, and I honestly never thought I’d end up there for college.

I’m often asked, “What made you apply Early Decision to the U of R?” The answer is easy: the curriculum. I found the Rochester Curriculum to be not only smart and well thought-out, but a big relief—never again would I have to take a math class or a science lab. So, I arrived on campus in August 2001 with a first-semester courseload of all social science and humanities classes that would put me right on the road to a public health major.

I was one of those fairly rare students who arrived at Rochester with an intended major and actually stuck to it. But I can assure you that I’m not alone when I say that no matter what you study, the academic freedom is incredibly valuable and unparalleled at almost any other major research university. Nine years later, I can say with complete confidence that the University of Rochester not only gave me a significant edge in my career, but also taught me how to think.

That’s what the University of Rochester does. It gives you the freedom to make important choices that you need to think critically and strategically about. Whether it’s designing a cluster that complements your major, or putting together an original Take 5 program, you’re never left without a chance to make a choice. At Rochester, you’re not asked to think within academic disciplines; you’re challenged to think across them. And I honestly think that’s the selling point of the school.

So where did all this freedom of choice take me? I left the U of R five years ago to pursue a master’s degree in public health at the University of Pittsburgh, in a city surprisingly similar to Rochester. For nearly three years, I have been working at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, where I am part of the media team in the Bureau of Tobacco Control. And thus, my Rochester experience is ongoing. I’m using the public health knowledge, the research skills, and (lately) the snow shoveling techniques I learned at the U of R to make important choices in my everyday life. And for that, I am incredibly grateful.



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