Alexandra Sorrentino '15 Researches at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

December 13, 2016

Alexandra Sorrentino

Alexandra filled us in on her work at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute — and her favorite part of her job!

What was your major at Simmons and what's your current job title?

I was an exercise science and public health double major. I'm a Clinical Research Coordinator/Research Data Specialist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

What's a typical day like at your job?

No day is quite the same at my job. I'm either seeing patients in clinic and collecting study measurements, imputing data, attending team meetings, or corresponding with study coordinators at other institutions. Some days involve only one of these tasks while others incorporate a little bit of each one. 

What was the job application process like for you?

The application process was a stressful one. Finding the right fit requires putting yourself out there to many different institutions and settings in order to explore all that they have to offer. It was a great experience because it really taught me to not take things personally and showed me just how competitive the job market is.

What's your favorite part of your job?

Interacting with patients in clinic. I also enjoy being part of such a motivated and compassionate group of professionals. They have taught me so much about the type of practitioner I aspire to be.

How did you know the organization was a good fit for you?

Dana-Farber has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My brother was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia as a child and was treated at Dana-Farber. He unfortunately lost his battle in 2000.

I was fortunate enough to complete my senior research project with Dana-Farber’s exercise physiologist and immediately knew that Dana-Farber was a place that I would love to begin my career. I had that initial over the moon feeling while interviewing. My interview and interactions with the people in my department had me wanting an offer significantly more than other jobs I had interviewed for.

What was your favorite class you took at Simmons?

Biology 370. As a senior this research course really helped me learn skills that I will carry with me forever. I had the opportunity to present at the Eastern New England Biological Conference. Working on a research project out in the field and then coming back to compose a paper and presentation to share with the community was an incredible opportunity.

What advice would you give to current Simmons students?

As cliché as it sounds, enjoy every moment. There are moments when the workload and the stress seem like too much, but you’ll make it through and look back feeling proud. Build relationships with your professors. They are the ones who provided me with so much support as I entered the working world. Become involved. As co-president of the Exercise Science Liaison and an Orientation Leader I learned valuable lessons in leadership and team work that translate into the working world and are so critical. 

Soak all of that in. Always remember that you are here at Simmons because you are capable of so much. You will certainly look back and be in awe of how quickly the time passed.

How did Simmons help prepare you for your career?

While transitioning from a college student to a young professional was bittersweet, I felt more than prepared and ready to enter the working world. Simmons taught me so much inside the classroom and lab but also in the real world. I worked on projects at Boston Health Care for the Homeless and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. I was also able to take part in organizing events held within our community involving First Aid and CPR certification, 5k runs and other organized events to promote wellness and healthy lifestyles for faculty, staff and students.

I feel so grateful for the opportunities and exposure I've had to a variety of settings and patient populations. This was crucial going into my career. Simmons helped prepare me academically for my career but also prepared me by giving me opportunities to improve my leadership, communication and teamwork skills.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I see myself working in the primary care setting as an established Family Nurse Practitioner. My exercise science and public health background has been such a huge motivator in my decision to pursue a career as an advanced practice nurse. I want to use all of my diverse experiences to provide my patients with excellent care. I'm excited by the thought of being able to continue growing relationships with patients and being a source of support as they live the healthiest lives that they can.

What's your Simmons moment?

Being the recipient of the Biology Faculty Award at the Senior Faculty banquet a month before I graduated. I remember being so shocked and at a loss for words. It was a true honor to be recognized by a department who helped me become the accomplished senior that I was. I will never forget how proud I felt in that moment.

Simmons was a place that constantly challenged me to come out of my comfort zone and grow as a person. My four years at Simmons shaped so much of who I am. I'm so grateful for the lifelong friendships, my education and the person who I have become.