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Abilene Emerson

Major: Biopsychology, Cognition, Neuroscience
Will be a senior this fall
 

The Risk Taker

LSA senior Abilene Emerson wasn’t sure that going to New Jersey to study—of all things—supply chains could lead to any important breakthroughs. But that’s exactly what happened. 

“It’s not what anyone would think they’d do in their lives during college,” Emerson says of her experience with the Johnson & Johnson company, “but it was so interesting and fun.”

This story actually starts earlier—as in years earlier—when Abilene was struggling to figure out an LSA major. “I was forcing myself to explore because I didn’t know where I wanted to go yet,” she says. “I liked science, but there are so many majors within that.”

 

 

 

 

Emerson used her distribution classes to try out different subjects, giving herself the freedom to let her interests unfold. “My mom always told me, ‘Don’t get stuck taking classes you think you have to take,’” Emerson says. “My distribution classes gave me a lot of room to check out a ton of subjects.”

 

Emerson used her distribution classes to try out different subjects, giving herself the freedom to let her interests unfold. “My mom always told me, ‘Don’t get stuck taking classes you think you have to take,’” Emerson says. “My distribution classes gave me a lot of room to check out a ton of subjects.”

Eventually, Emerson landed in Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience (BCN). The major was exactly what Emerson had hoped, but she was still looking for educational opportunities. Then along came Johnson & Johnson. Emerson participated in what’s known as a co-op, which is “like an internship only longer,” she explains. For seven months and for school credit, Emerson worked and lived in New Jersey with 60 other people, all of whom trained and worked together at Johnson & Johnson.

Her job was to train Johnson & Johnson employees in a new operating system in Canada, Brazil, Mexico, and Japan. “I helped organize and track tasks as well as facilitate meetings. It was a lot like going to U-M because there were a lot of different people and cultures that you had work with.”

While it’s true that Emerson doesn’t want to work in supply chains for the rest of her life, she used the co-op to seek out opportunities and learn more about herself. “The whole experience made me realize that industry is a place I want to be—versus research. It also made me realize I was really outgoing. I love talking to people.”

On her own, she searched out contacts in the environmental health and safety department at Johnson & Johnson. “I met and toured with the managers there, who answered all of my questions. One of my contacts there just recently offered me an internship—this time for four months.”

Emerson will soon head to Malvern, Pennsylvania, to intern with Johnson & Johnson in an area that more closely aligns with her interests of health, psychology, and wellness. And after that? Her goal is to get a master’s degree in the School of Public Health’s Industrial Hygiene Program.

“It’s kind of awesome that you can go out for seven months and survive on your own not knowing anyone,” she says of her co-op experience. “It forces you to grow.”

In LSA, she’s discovered that students can accomplish anything they want. “Go do what you want to do,” Emerson says. “Go do your thing.”

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