Alumni Profile: John Heffernan Ph.D.

John Heffernan, TCS Class of 2007, resides in Scottsdale, Arizona. He recently earned his Ph.D. from Arizona State University after receiving his undergraduate and master’s degrees at Drexel University.

Q: Where are you working now?

John: “I work for a pharmaceutical startup company called Sonoran Biosciences. It’s a spinoff company that developed out of a lab I was working in. Our company is in an interesting place. We are technically a pharmaceutical company but really, we are more of a biotechnology development company. We’re developing one specific technology, it’s a material that is used to encapsulate drugs. The drug we are primarily pursuing right now is to treat infections that are acquired during surgical procedures. There are always risks during surgeries in developing an infection. Our drug would be used in those surgical sites to safely prevent any infection from developing after surgery.”

Q: How did your time at TCS prepare you for your career?

John: “I was a K-12 grade student at TCS. I wasn’t certain what I wanted to do going into college. I knew that I wanted to do something in science. I started out in the biomedical engineering discipline and wanted to see where things went. I ended up liking it and I stuck it out. Most of the science classes at Timothy showed me that I wanted to do something on the science side. My best memories were in advanced chemistry classes. College started out very easy for me because of the training I had at TCS in this subject.”

Q: How long did your education take?

John: “It was a ten-year process for me from graduating TCS until I graduated with my Ph.D. I went to college trying to avoid med school because I thought it would be too long and I ended up going to school long enough that I could have become an MD! It wasn’t something I predicted.”

Q: What advice do you have for TCS students looking into college?

John: “I recommend students from TCS look for co-op programs. I did a five-year co-op program at Drexel. The job training you get is something I appreciated. You receive that initial training and that helps you with the interviewing process.”

Q: Why would you encourage STEM related fields?

John: “There are going to be many opportunities in STEM fields. School is a value proposition – if you’re spending a lot of money for a degree that you’re going to have to pay off for a while, and if you’re not going to make much money when you’re done, that’s not the best value proposition. There are tons of STEM opportunities that provide a better value proposition for your education.”

While not knowing exactly what he wanted to do after high school, God has guided John each step of the way through his educational journey. Hard work and persistence are two characteristics that helped John to follow through and complete his Ph.D. in chemistry. Additionally, finding co-op programs and internships along the way help guide students in determining their career paths. John is just one of many Timothy graduates who have gone on to earn advanced degrees in STEM related fields. Our high school students will get to hear from some of these STEM alumni and those in other fields as well at our Alumni Career Day on Friday, February 22nd.