A Physician Assistant in the Making

Post-Baccalaureate Health Professions Program alumna Lauren Jesse strengthens sciences GPA

Years of training, years of dedication. That’s what Lauren Jesse brought to her teams as a competitive athlete in gymnastics and diving. This resilience and fortitude have served Lauren well—not only in her athletic pursuits, but also in maintaining a strong commitment to her P.A. career.

How so?

In 2012, Lauren was awarded All-MPSF (Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) Second
Team honors in Division 1 platform diving.

In 2015, Lauren earned her Bachelor of Science in exercise biology from UC Davis.

In 2022, she was accepted into the Dominican University of California’s master’s degree program for physician assistants.

Tying the two together are fond memories of working with her health care team during her athletic pursuits.

“The health care team was my rock when it came to overcoming injuries and was a source of immense mental and physical support during very trying times,” Lauren recalls. “Medicine affords the unique privilege to guide patients during some of the lowest of lows and highest of highs.”

It’s what drew her to pursuing a degree in exercise biology, after which she gladly accepted a physical therapy aide position at the Center for Sports Medicine (Walnut Creek, Calif.). There, she “collaborated with physical therapists, physicians and podiatrists to instruct patients on tailored home exercise programs and brace fittings.”

“It was exciting to learn about various musculoskeletal conditions while also being a member of a support network for patients. The combination of intellectual stimulation and the gratification of being a part of a patient’s recovery reaffirmed my interest to pursue a career in medicine.”



I could take classes in the evening that would allow me to continue accruing patient care-hours during the day.



Where to Start?

Looking for a career in the P.A. field, Lauren assessed her undergraduate coursework and compared it to the requirements of an increasingly competitive application process. The spotlight became quite clear to demonstrate her mastery in upper-division science courses.

To fulfill this need, she turned to our Post-Baccalaureate Health Professions Program—drawn not only to the myriad courses she could take, but also learning at “an institution highly acclaimed for its academic rigor. I could take classes in the evening that would allow me to continue accruing patient care-hours during the day.”

Beyond the wealth of courses available, Lauren was also excited about the additional features of being accepted into the program, notably:

Attending useful seminars on the personal statement and the interview process

Taking part in mock interviews before each P.A. school interview

Receiving a composite letter that included input from multiple instructors and the program director, highlighting her successes in the classroom

“The academic instructors were very understanding of our busy schedules and would often make themselves available outside of class to answer any questions we had regarding lectures or exams,” Lauren responds when asked about her experience in the classes. “I found that there was a strong sense of camaraderie and support among classmates, which helped foster many lasting friendships throughout my post-bacc experience.”

Highlights for Lauren include:

“Instructor Marc Strawn made Organic Chemistry enjoyable and fun and has been very supportive of my career goals.

“I credit a large part of my success in microbiology and immunology in P.A. school to Dr. Rajeev Banerjee, who made the topics very engaging and relevant.

“Dr. Chuanyi Mark Lu’s phenomenal Hematology course and problem-based learning format helped me excel during the Hematology/Oncology unit in P.A. school and inspired me to consider a career in hematology/oncology.

“Instructor John Reville made physics fun with easy-to-follow lectures, a book of physics problems with step-by-step explanations and his own online videos.

Daniel Benjamin was an incredible instructor for biochemistry who made what we were learning very interesting and applicable to medical conditions.”



I am truly grateful to the incredible UC Berkeley Extension instructors who helped me be a success in my first year of P.A. school!



On Her Way

All of these combined assets helped Lauren attain her goal: to be admitted into the competitive Dominican University of California’s P.A. school!

Specifically, Lauren credits that “having a strong background in microbiology, immunology, biochemistry and hematology provided an enormous advantage during the didactic year, especially when two weeks were typically allotted for each core subject. I am truly grateful to the incredible UC Berkeley Extension instructors who helped me be a success in my first year of P.A. school!

Expected to graduate from this program in 2024, Lauren is eager to start her P.A. career and has the tenacity and drive to meet her goals head-on. Her next steps?

“I still have a lot to explore throughout the clinical year, but I am currently interested in applying for a residency/fellowship position to obtain more experience in the setting of an academic institution,” Lauren enthuses. “As a licensed P.A., I will be able to explore many different fields of medicine, providing me with the unique ability to harness a skill set and knowledge base across a diverse set of specialties, while still being at the forefront of patient care.”

As she looks back on her studies in our Post-Baccalaureate Health Professions Program, she offers this sage advice:

“Do your research and make sure that a post-bacc program is right for you. If you are applying to P.A. school, look at requirements for schools that you are interested in to help guide you in which courses to take. Many of them vary between recommended and required coursework and minimum grade requirements for fundamental coursework. Most importantly, make sure you have strong study habits in place before enrolling in a post-bacc. Schools will place these grades in high regard and use this as a measure of whether you are ready to handle the rigor of the curriculum.”