Graduating Student Standouts
Meet three students graduating in May from Johns Hopkins University. Salim Munoz, Sofie Reynders and Beth Beru all took the majority of their classes at the university’s Montgomery County Campus. They are standouts in the classroom and have used their diverse, real-world experiences as a starting point for launching new career paths. Their stories show that there really is no “typical” student at Johns Hopkins University’s Montgomery County Campus.
Congratulations to Munoz, Reynders and Beru and all of their graduating classmates.
Salim Munoz looks forward to bringing the lessons he has learned at Johns Hopkins University back to his native Mexico.
Munoz, 29, attended medical school in Mexico City, graduating in 2010. But rather than starting to train in his neurosurgery specialty in Mexico, he decided to work on a master’s degree at Johns Hopkins University’s Montgomery County Campus. Munoz holds the distinction of being the first Johns Hopkins Center for Biotechnology Education student to receive a scholarship offered through Mexico’s National Council for Science and Technology, or CONACyT. The scholarship covered part of his tuition.
He was motivated to study in the United States by Roberto Trujillo, president and chief executive of TruBios, one of the companies located on the Montgomery County Campus.
The Trujillo and Munoz families go way back. Munoz’s father met Trujillo at Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México. Munoz’s father, a cardiologist, was a professor at the university; Trujillo was a medical student. The families became friends, and Munoz’s father helped Trujillo come to the United States for his internship.
Trujillo would later tell Salim Munoz about the biotechnology programs at Johns Hopkins.
“I became inspired by his science and his passion for science,” Munoz said. “That’s how I started to get the idea of coming to the States.”
Munoz came to the United States in February 2013. In May, he will graduate from the Krieger School of Arts & Sciences with a master’s degree in Biotechnology, Enterprise and Entrepreneurship.
After graduation, he plans to do research for a year and then pursue a residency in neurosurgery. He is particularly interested in brain tumors in children and adults. The Master’s in Biotechnology, Enterprise and Entrepreneurship program, Munoz said, gave him insight into the role marketing and finance play in the medical sector and will help him be a better neurosurgeon.
“Most of the people in science and medicine don’t know how to bring discoveries to the market, to patients,” Munoz said. “With my knowledge from this program and all of these new technologies that can help to treat brain diseases, I will be able to know how to bring these technologies faster to the patients. Now I see a broader vision. My program has changed my mind set, the whole way I see science.”
Throughout his time in the master’s program, Munoz interned with TruBios. TruBios is a biotechnology services company focused on offering clinical research and commercialization solutions to Latin American countries.
The internship, he said, gave him an opportunity to apply lessons learned in the classroom to the real world. The campus’ proximity to federal labs gave him exposure to the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration. His professors were dedicated to helping him and his classmates succeed.
“My experience was overall great because I had great mentors,” Munoz said. “They were always willing to help.”
Yet he plans to return to Mexico one day, he said, because the country needs leaders who can advance in biotechnology, build research centers and bring products to market more rapidly.
Munoz wants to be part of the leadership that builds Mexico’s research infrastructure, help grow the biotechnology industry and bring solutions to the country’s medical needs.
Sofie Reynders wanted to be a doctor.
She loved watching medical shows on television as a child. She loved the dissection units in high school science classes. She once spent the day watching a veterinarian do surgery.
Reynders majored in biology at George Washington University but didn’t apply to medical school. She said she thought her grades were too low and that she wasn’t cut out for the medical field. She didn’t take the MCAT.
Today, as she prepares to graduate with her master’s in business administration from the Carey Business School and a master’s in biotechnology from the Krieger School of Arts & Sciences, Reynders says she doesn’t regret her decision.
“There’s always another route,” said Reynders, 28. “I may not be going to medical school, but I am still graduating from Johns Hopkins.”
After graduating from George Washington University in 2008, Reynders began working for the American Institute of Biological sciences in the Scientific Peer Advisory Review Services area. While working , she earned a master’s in health sciences in clinical research administration from George Washington.
Later, a colleague would tell her about the MBA program at Carey Business School. Reynders said she thought that sounded interesting, and her father told her an MBA would be a good degree to have.
The dual degree MBA/ Biotechnology program, she said, has given her the opportunity to meet students from different fields and different companies in the region, including MedImmune, BioReliance and Emergent Solutions. She said she has benefited from Johns Hopkins University’s Montgomery County Campus’ proximity to federal agencies and labs.
Attending Johns Hopkins, Reynders believes, has better prepared her for her next step and will make her a better project manager. She wants to manage clinical trials for either a biopharmaceutical or pharmaceutical company.
That way, though she won’t be a doctor, she said, she will still be able to play a role in the medical field.
Not only is Beth Beru a first-generation college graduate, she is the first in her family to earn a master’s degree.
Beru, whose parents were born in Ethiopia, will graduate in May with a master’s degree in school counseling from the Johns Hopkins University School of Education.
“We were all instilled the importance of education at an early age,” Beru said of her parents emphasizing education to her and her two brothers. “That was ingrained from Day 1.”
Though she always knew she would attend college, her career path was less clear cut. Now, at 27, Beru said she has found her passion: counseling high school students.
She did her undergraduate work at Temple University in Philadelphia, where she majored in broadcasting and public relations. She graduated in 2009 and got a job doing public relations for Partners Salon & Spa, where she did marketing, event planning and product launches.
Beru said she can’t envision herself doing public relations work long term. Jobs are too scarce, she said, and public relations work schedules too unpredictable.
When she was in college at Temple, she worked with adolescent girls in Philadelphia on SAT prep and self-esteem issues. Working with youth, she said, was something she always enjoyed. She felt like the teens were comfortable talking to her and willing to open up.
She wants to show students that dreams can be attained.
“I hope to spark something in a child’s mind so they say, ‘Oh my God, I can do this.’”
She is currently a school counseling intern for Central High School in Prince George’s County. She credits the internship and her Johns Hopkins instructors for giving her the confidence she needs to succeed as a school counselor. She also credits her background in broadcasting and public relations. Those fields taught her how to be adaptable, multi-task and manage a crisis – skills she knows she will need as a school counselor.