Success Stories - Alumni

Andrew Jacobson

Photo of Andrew Jacobson, man with dark hair, wearing suit and tie, standing.

NTID’s 2014 Distinguished Alumnus, Andrew R. Jacobson ’90, ’96 (Hotel Management, Service Management), took the skills he learned at RIT/NTID and applied them to his professional life.

“The intensity of RIT’s academic system, combined with involvement with my fraternity, gave me a broader perspective on life,” the New York City native says.

Jacobson’s career led him to Portland, Oregon, and Wilmington, Delaware, before he returned to New York City to focus on his tax preparation business.

“The tax business truly is a people-focused business,” he says. “You meet all kinds of individuals, and building those business relationships has great rewards.”

Jacobson has given back to RIT/NTID in a variety of ways, including serving on the boards of NTID’s Foundation and the NTID Alumni Association. He has been a supporter of Sebastian and Lenore Rosica Hall, NTID’s newest facility for research and innovation. And at April’s Distinguished Alumni Award Dinner, Jacobson was able to reflect on what the college really means to him.

“The dinner was beautiful,” he says. “It was wonderful to see all of the other honorees who also are involved at RIT. I was truly honored and humbled.

“This award was not about me; it’s about the evolution of our school. The growth of RIT and NTID has been tremendous.”

Jacobson cited new facilities, a thriving campus life that provides more opportunities for leadership and personal growth, and the university’s growing national and international reputation as factors that have made RIT and NTID a destination for attracting the finest students and faculty.

“I’m grateful to Dr. Gerry Buckley and the leadership of NTID for allowing me to share my insights on the NTID Foundation and Alumni boards; to my fellow board members for their motivation and dedicated service; and to the NTID faculty, staff and students for asking me to share my life experiences. I’m truly proud to be an alumnus.”

This story appeared in the Spring/Summer 2014 issue of FOCUS Magazine.

Tiffany Panko

Photo of Tiffany Panko, woman with long dark hair, wearing light colored v-neck sweater and leaning on railing.

Persistence is at the heart of what drives Tiffany Panko to succeed in medical school and in life.

The Webster, N.Y., native earned a bachelor’s degree in Multidisciplinary Studies, with concentrations in Psychology and Premedical Studies, as well as an MBA at RIT. Before entering medical school, she also became a certified nurse assistant at BOCES #1. She now is in her second year of studies at the University of Rochester School of Medicine.

“I really enjoy medicine because it combines hard science—biology, anatomy, etc.—with the soft science of caring for people,” she says. “While there are a lot of ways to help people, I really enjoy medicine. That’s what ignites my fire to do what I do, and it’s what has gotten me this far.”

Panko cites skilled interpreters who are a good fit for her needs and for the course content, and the use of transcription services in science lectures as keys to her success. Another key is advocacy.

“I learned to self-advocate early in my life,” she says. “I have very supportive parents who are great examples of what deaf people can accomplish. They worked hard to make sure that I had all the support services I needed in high school. I’m very fortunate that the University of Rochester Medical Center has a team of interpreters who make sure that my experience is as close to smooth as it can possibly be—it is still medical school, after all!”

The future Dr. Panko’s advice to others reflects the way she lives: “Be persistent! If you know you want something, don’t stop chasing your dreams. Volunteer along the way—for things both related and unrelated to your career goals—to make sure you want to pursue medicine and to show the applications committee that you know what you want, and also to give back to the community!”

This story appeared in the Fall/Winter 2013 issue of FOCUS Magazine.

Jibril Jaha

Photo of Jabril Jaha, man wearing white lab coat, and sitting in lab in front of microscopte.

One of RIT/NTID alumnus Jibril Jaha’s favorite quotes is by an unknown author: “Work hard in silence; let success make the noise.”

The 2012 Multidisciplinary Studies graduate is a biological science technician at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the Animal Plant Health Inspection Services’ Mycobacteria and Brucella Laboratory in Ames, Iowa.

“My responsibilities are to conduct diagnostic tests, and to obtain and maintain training and accreditation on equipment and standard operating procedures to perform testing,” he says. “Also I work as a laboratory safety rep, and maintain adequate inventory of supplies, reagents and media for performing routine diagnostic testing.”

Prior to earning his bachelor’s degree, Jaha graduated from NTID’s Laboratory Science Technology program. In 2009 he completed a 10-week co-op at the National Institute for Medical Research in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. In 2010, he completed a second co-op at Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine. While at RIT/NTID, Jaha participated in Delta Sigma Phi, the Deaf Basketball Association, and the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance.

“RIT/NTID was a good fit for me because it allowed me to be socially interactive with my peers,” the St. Louis, Mo., native says. “I had a great experience in NTID’s LST program, and that allowed me to bridge my laboratory skills to become a biological science technician.

Jaha advises students that it’s never too early to prepare to find their dream job.

“Relentlessly apply,” says Jaha, who is considering returning to RIT for graduate school. “Given the economic and employment hardships today, it is best to get work experience every summer before you graduate.”

This story appeared in the Fall/Winter 2013 issue of FOCUS Magazine.