PHILADELPHIA–Jennifer Dailey, of Broomall, was on the big screen during 's 2008 graduation. Dailey was studying abroad in Switzerland at the time as part of the Rotary Youth Exchange Program. Four years later, she found herself on the big screen once more. This time, however, she was on the podium at the University of Pennsylvania making her commencement speech.
On May 13, Dailey, who was nominated by the school's Physics Department, spoke in front of her peers as the featured student speaker for the university's College of Arts & Sciences.
"I thought it must've been a mistake," recalled Dailey when she first heard she was chosen as this year's student speaker for the college. "I mean, you're up against all these other majors–the communication and English majors–and I was pretty sure that they'd get it."
But Dailey, who studied physics with a concentration in chemistry, found herself speaking before her peers about overcoming their fears and what they're capable of doing.
"It still feels very surreal. When I was on stage, I was like, this isn't happening," laughed Dailey. "I thought I was going to be very nervous, but when I got up there I was just so happy. I've had so many amazing experiences at the school and it was really great to share them everybody."
Dailey, who is a Benjamin Franklin Scholar and University Scholar, has an extensive track record of accomplishment in science, including working in the lab of Physics Professor A.T. Charlie Johnson since her freshman year and co-authoring two scientific papers, according to the college.
Dailey has also pursued independent research on the use of carbon nanotube transistors in the detection of Lyme Disease—work that she presented at the American Physical Society in 2011.
Dailey was also a volunteer at a cancer ward at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and served as a member of the Stouffer College House Steering Committee throughout her career at Penn. Following graduation, Dailey will work in a clinical immunology lab at the National Eye Institute through an NIH research training award program and later hopes to pursue an MD/PhD.
"Eventually, I would like to be a medically trained scientist and actually see patients. I love research and discovery and adding to the world of scientific knowledge. And I found out that you can do both," said Dailey.
Before she begins the NIH training program in July, Dailey hopes to help publish another publication with UPenn.