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Celebrating the Best of Drexel’s Historic Co-op Program in 2016

May 06, 2016

This year's co-op award winners are pictured. Bottom row left to right: Lynn Gotuaco, Conchita Taylor, Chau Dang, Angelique Giannascoli and Sarah Griggs. Back row left to right: Sandra Petri, Arvid Roach and Brandon Katz.
This year's co-op award winners are pictured. Bottom row, left to right: Lynn Gotuaco, Conchita Taylor, Chau Dang, Angelique Giannascoli and Sarah Griggs. Top row, left to right: Sandra Petri, Arvid Roach and Brandon Katz.

There was a lot to celebrate at this year’s annual Cooperative Education Awards, sponsored by the Steinbright Career Development Center.

First, there are the numbers: 96 percent of 2014 Drexel graduates are working full-time or enrolled in graduate school full-time, based on an alumni survey. A full 50 percent of those working had received a job offer from one of their co-op employers. In general, about 91 percent of all Drexel undergraduate students, or 5,819 students, worked at one of the more than the 1,700 employers in Drexel’s co-op network for their co-op. Needless to say, Drexel would receive top grades for those marks. 

Then there’s the history: Drexel’s gearing up to celebrate its 125th anniversary this year. In two years, Drexel will mark the centennial of its own co-operative education program. Out of all the American institutions also offering co-op programs today, only four have programs older than Drexel’s. 

But above all are the students who were honored at the May 4 ceremony. This year’s co-op award winners are nine exceptional students from nine different Drexel colleges. They were chosen from 146 nominations made by employers. Additionally, Chan Yeoh, a computer engineering major in the College of Engineering, received the Bentley Systems Career Networking Award for his outstanding academic performance and interest in digital design while at co-op with the company. All of these students are also highly involved in extracurricular activities and academic pursuits at Drexel.

“It’s important for these exceptional students to be highlighted to the greater Drexel community so that others can appreciate the tremendous contributions they have made. Their impact extends far beyond Drexel and each individual employer,” said Shannon Keough, co-op coordinator and co-chair for the Co-op Awards Committee.

These students were honored alongside two employers of the year: Brinjac Engineering, a full-service consulting engineering firm, and McKesson, the oldest and largest health care services in the country. Additionally, Chuck Sacco, assistant dean of strategic initiatives and director of the Baiada Institute at the Drexel University Close School of Entrepreneurship, was recognized as faculty of the year.

Here are the co-op award winners honored at the event:

Chau Dang is a biomedical engineering major in the School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems, with a concentration in biomaterials and tissue engineering. For her co-op with biotechnology company Amicus Therapeutics, she examine the stability of a lipid molecule important in the study of Gaucher disease, which affects many of the body’s organs and tissues. Dang’s discoveries on how samples may be exposed during analysis caused her employer to change how they handle samples in the lab.

Parini Gandhi is a nursing major in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, with a minor in psychology. While on co-op at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, she primarily cared for patients with sickle cell disease. Receiving transfusions every three weeks can be a lot to handle, especially for younger and newer patients, but Gandhi worked hard to care for those being treated. Her actions demonstrated that she “has a knack for helping to relieve patient anxiety and relate to the patients on their level,” according to her co-op employer. 

Angelique Giannascoli, an elementary education major in the School of Education, specializes in pre-kindergarten through the fourth grade. This came in handy during her co-op at St. Andrew Catholic Education Center, where Giannascoli aided children, staff and faculty in activities and preparation for classes. “She was a good role model, always offering praise and encouragement to help foster self-esteem and self worth,” wrote her supervisor in her nomination form.

Lynn Gotuaco, a culinary science major in the Center for Hospitality and Sport Management, worked as a co-op in the laboratories of the Monnell Chemical Senses Center. Starting her job as a research assistant, Gotuaco proved her adeptness and skill and was soon given more advanced projects. She worked on subject testing as well as the processing and documenting of biospecimens, among other responsibilities. Once her co-op ended, she asked to remain with Monnell to learn more about psychophysical tools for testing children and adults — and of course, her employer happily approved.

Sarah Griggs is a biological sciences major and philosophy minor in the College of Arts and Sciences. For her first co-op at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, she successfully populated and analyzed a database concerning calls to a national hotline staffed by physicians who offered advice about malignant hyperthermia, an anesthesia-related disease. When she returned for her second co-op at the same institution, she reviewed a study of children with Duchenne muscular dystrophy as well as a systematic review of diseases genetically linked to malignant hyperthermia. It’s no wonder that her employer wrote, “I can’t imagine a more deserving co-op student for this recognition.”

Brandon Katz, an electrical engineering major in the College of Engineering, also completed two co-ops with the same employer. At the Spectrum Systems Laboratory of Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Technology Laboratory, he was the first to integrate a military radio network into multiple phases of a program known as the Behavior Learning for Adaptive Electronic Warfare (BLADE). He was even asked to travel to Arizona with other Lockheed Martin employees to aid in the execution of the first-ever airborne BLADE test event.

Sandra Petri is an international business major and international area studies minor in the LeBow College of Business and the Pennoni Honors College. As a marketing co-op for Drexel’s Office of International Programs (OIP) and Study Abroad, she did everything from administrative duties to expanding OIP’s and Study Abroad’s social media presence to welcoming international delegates to campus. “We would absolutely hire Sandra in our office as a full-time employee if she were not still a student,” wrote Vice Provost for Global Initiatives Julie Mostov, PhD, who was her co-op employer.

Arvid Roach is a product design major in the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design with minors in entrepreneurship and fine arts. While on co-op at Michael Graves Architecture & Design, Roach was a highly sought-after design researcher who worked with multiple teams and staff members of all levels. His supervisor wrote, “We have never had a better co-op student than Arvid Roach … period.”

Conchita Taylor, an information systems major in the College of Computing & Informatics, completed her co-op with the National Board of Medical Examiners. She developed several complex databases to read large volumes of data and facilitate the user experience. “I hired Conchita as a part-time analyst after she completed her co-op and I would not hesitate to hire her full-time if she was interested in a position within our organization,” wrote her employer.

About the Drexel Co-op program: More than 98 percent of eligible undergraduate students at Drexel participate in the co-op program, balancing full-time classes and up to three different internships during their time at Drexel. Students can choose from more than 1,700 employers in 35 states and 45 international locations — plus endless possibilities through self-arranged placements.