Alumnus Profile - Michael Jewett
Michael Jewett

Alumnus Profile
Michael Jewett

Michael Jewett has experienced the best of both worlds.

He was born and raised in Italy but spent much of his life traveling to the United States to visit family during the holidays and summer breaks. When it came time to decide where he would attend college, Michael’s father, who had previously taught English at Coker, encouraged him to apply. His four years spent at Coker marked his first experience living full-time in the U.S. and being on his own.

Coker’s ideal size and welcoming campus community helped him quickly feel at home. Some of his fondest memories are of days spent hanging out with friends and learning to play ping pong on Dunbar porch, a recreational area that connects Memorial and Belk Hall. Living in the residence halls meant friends were always nearby.

Michael also worked in the writer’s studio as a tutor, providing his peers with one-on-one support to assist them in developing effective writing skills. It was an extremely rewarding experience, and learning to help and encourage other students led him to consider a career in higher education.

Since graduating from Coker in 2009 with a degree in biology, Michael earned his master’s degree in neuroscience from the University of Trieste in Italy. While he was working on his master’s, he spent two months in Sweden completing research related to his coursework. His supervising professor has since invited him to return for six months to conduct research in preparation for doctoral-level work in neuroscience. Michael’s goal is to become a professor after earning his Ph.D.

At Coker, Michael developed his skills as a researcher with guidance from Associate Professor of Biology Joseph Flaherty and Professor of Biology Paula Bailey. He especially credits Coker’s senior biology seminar for helping him learn to present his ideas and research with confidence. Michael also completed an internship in Italy researching yeast genetics as part of his biology major requirements.

“As a student, Michael understood the skills he was developing as a biology major would transcend international boundaries,” said Flaherty. “The language of science is universal, and Michael maximized his Coker experience to propel himself to the next level.

“He came to Coker as a compassionate, curious and earnest student and left as a capable scholar poised to make positive contributions to science and humanity.”

For Michael, the faculty at Coker made all the difference.

“My professors believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself,” said Michael. “That motivation to keep going meant everything. Dr. Flaherty and Dr. Bailey are true examples of the type of professor I hope to be someday.”

If given the chance, Michael would do it all over again. His experiences both at Coker and in Italy have transformed him and opened his mind to countless possibilities.

“If you stay in one place all your life you cannot imagine all that’s out there,” he said. “You cannot fully appreciate all this world has to offer unless you push yourself to try new things and explore new opportunities.”


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