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UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering

Get Involved: Q&A with JUMP Mentoring Program Co-founder

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Margie Mathewson is headed to Los Angeles where she will work as a consultant for McKinsey and Co.

San Diego, Calif., June 4, 2014 -- As graduate students at the Jacobs School, Margie Mathewson (bioengineering) and Laura Connelly (materials science) co-founded the Jacobs Undergraduate Mentoring Program, better known as JUMP. Through JUMP, alumni have the opportunity to mentor groups of graduate and undergraduate students who themselves are engaged in peer mentoring.

As we prepare to celebrate all of our graduates this coming weekend, I’d like to add a special thanks to Mathewson and Connelly, two talented Jacobs School engineering students who have made the Jacobs School a better place.

Graduation, of course, is the exciting time of year when Jacobs School students become Jacobs School alumni. There are many different factors that can make this transition go more or less smoothly. One of these factors is whether engineering students have access, during their years of study, to mentorship from experienced engineers. And that’s where you, the friends and alumni of the Jacobs School, can make crucial and lasting impacts on the lives of our students.

We have many opportunities for you to get involved—and there are additional exciting opportunities that we will be announcing soon.

We recently added an online form to the Jacobs School alumni website that offers an organized and streamlined way for you to “raise your hand” and express your interest in getting involved in mentorship and other volunteer opportunities at the Jacobs School. I encourage you to give it a look. 

I am a proponent of direct communication. If you have ideas on how to improve the alumni experience at the Jacobs School of Engineering, you can reach me directly at: 

In the meantime, enjoy the Q&A below, where Margie Mathewson, a Gordon Engineering Leadership Center scholar, talks about her experiences here at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego and what decided her to get involved.


Albert P. Pisano, Dean
Jacobs School of Engineering



What inspired you to create JUMP?
As an undergraduate at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, I was very involved in Women in Engineering mentoring, both as a mentor and mentee. What I learned from my mentors helped me immensely as I went through the process of applying for graduate school and related fellowships. When I started at UC San Diego as a grad student, I was excited to give back but there wasn't a large-scale engineering mentoring program in existence when I arrived.

How do you hope your leadership will affect the future of JUMP, Jacobs School and/or the university?
One of my passions is getting other people plugged into science outreach and leadership, and I think I've been able to do this while at UC San Diego. Seeing some of our JUMP mentees go on to mentor other students, for example, truly warms my heart. Creating a more welcoming and connected engineering community improves retention and makes everyone's college experience better, and if I can do that for even a few students, I'll feel like the work I've put in here has been a success.

What is your favorite UC San Diego memory?
Our very first Jacobs Undergraduate Mentoring Program (JUMP) meeting is way up there on my list. As I got ready to welcome the students that evening, I couldn't believe that something that was only an idea floating around in my head 6 months before had become a fully funded and functional program. Most universities would never have taken my proposal seriously. The fact that I was not only encouraged to start the program but was also offered support and funding through the new IDEA Student Center was absolutely amazing to me. (It still is!)

Do you feel alumni involvement in student life is a critical component of enhancing the student experience? If so, why?Absolutely! I grew up in a rural Midwestern area where very few people became engineers or got advanced degrees. When I started college, it was hard for me to picture what I could do when I finished school. I didn't really know anyone who was doing anything like it. Getting to meet alumni, both at my undergrad institution and at UC San Diego, has helped me figure out what I can do with my education and picture myself in many different career paths. The mentorship and advice I've gotten from alums has been incredibly valuable.

How do you see yourself being involved with UC San Diego upon graduation?
As you can probably guess, my great experience with the Jacobs School has made me a UC San Diego fan for life. While I'm moving from San Diego in a few months, I'm looking forward to being able to mentor future students in any way I can.

How has your UC San Diego experience connected you to people and/or opportunities?
I've met so many members of the current and former UC San Diego family who have been incredibly helpful to me, both while I'm here (especially with all the help they've offered to the JUMP program) and afterward. As I began my job hunt last year, I was able to call on many people I had met through UC San Diego for informational interviews and advice on how to make sure I ended up in the right place.

What/who are some of your most important contacts that your UC San Diego experience made possible?
Our whole campus is covered with experts in their field! Walking through the bioengineering building, I sometimes casually run into a National Medal of Science recipient (Dr. Shu Chien). The UC San Diego community is full of company founders and technology leaders, and everyone I've interacted with has been enthusiastically willing to talk to me or help me out in any way they can. I think we sometimes take for granted how extraordinary our community really is, especially for a young university.

How has your UC San Diego degree helped you in your career? How will it continue to help you as you move forward into the workforce?
I'm just starting out, but the job I'm headed to might not have even been available to me without a UC San Diego degree. Especially at the graduate level, many companies only target schools they see as prestigious. Coming from UC San Diego with its impressive academic record, I had the ear of any recruiter I wanted to talk to. It made my job hunt much easier having people coming right to campus looking for me. I see my degree continuing to open doors for me as I advance through the workforce, both by the weight the name carries and by the extensive network of UC San Diego alums.

What advice would you give to current students at UC San Diego?
I'm sure you hear this a lot, but get involved. Seriously. UC San Diego offers opportunities that will give you all the tools you need after graduation if you're only willing to look for them. Your experience here will also be enriched by the amazing friends you'll meet by just getting out there and trying some new things.

Why did you choose to attend UC San Diego?
In my field (Bioengineering), UC San Diego is one of the very best graduate schools. I was already excited about UC San Diego when I applied because of what I had read, and when I came out for a visit and saw the campus, I was hooked.

Why did you decide to major in Bioengineering at UC San Diego?
As I mentioned, UC San Diego is a fantastic place to study Bioengineering, with some of the best researchers in the world running labs here. Besides the research quality, I wanted my graduate research to bridge biology, engineering, and medicine, and the close connections between the UC San Diego hospitals and bioengineering department was hugely appealing to me.

What was your favorite class?
As part of the Med-into-Grad program, in which graduate students get to take medical classes and shadow a doctor for a quarter (amazing program!), I took a class called Science Meets the Med Patient. Every session covered a different disease. For the first hour, a patient would talk to us about his or her experience, and the second hour was a presentation by someone who researched that topic. Getting to see both the patient and research perspectives dramatically changed my understanding of the illnesses we discussed and made me realize the importance of what we’re doing as medical researchers.

Q&A by Adrienne Bolli, Director of Alumni Affairs at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering

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