Biotech Alums Celebrate Successes and Strengthen Connections

09/30/2022 Bookmark and Share

Graduates of MiraCosta College's groundbreaking bachelor's degree program in biomanufacturing recently celebrated their successes and strengthened connections that will benefit them in the future. 

The first Alumnight: Biotech event, presented by the MiraCosta Alumni Association and Biotechnology Department, was held at the MiraCosta College Oceanside Campus on September 16. Attendees included graduates since the baccalaureate degree was first launched in 2017, program faculty and staff, and industry representatives. Gilead Sciences and Genentech sponsored the event, two biotech companies that have hired numerous MiraCosta College graduates. 

MiraCosta College is one of 15 community colleges in the state to offer baccalaureate degrees in high-demand fields. Seventy-four students have completed the program since it began, with a 95% success rate. Most students are from historically underrepresented populations within STEM fields. 

Dr. Mike Fino, MiraCosta College's dean of math and sciences, said many of the graduates have moved on to well-paying jobs that allow them to support their families. "The graduates are promoting at top-tier companies and doing extremely well. Several have bought homes. They are supporting and growing their families," said Fino. "It felt like the best possible reunion and a clear validation of the effort put into this program by so many MiraCostans and industry partners."

Esther Nair earned her bachelor's degree in May 2021 and is one of the program's many success stories. She now has what she called "the best job" as a quality analyst with Native Microbials, Inc., where she began full-time. During her time in the program, Nair juggled being a mother of two and part-time work with her classes and homework. She said she's happy now to focus on her children, pay her family's expenses without government assistance and deal with "better challenges." 

"All my dreams came true," she said. "I'm excited to go to work and then leave work and be present with my family. And it's thanks to MiraCosta and the program. I'm really so appreciative to the faculty, the staff, and the legislature (that passed the community college baccalaureate law.) It made all the difference in my life and my kids."

Dr. Dominique Ingato, upper division chair of MiraCosta College's biotech department, gave special recognition at the event to the 2020 and 2021 graduates who could not participate in an in-person commencement because of the pandemic. 

She explained the event's goals were to allow the alums to reconnect and build connections with industry partners, such as Ryan Bettencourt of Gilead Sciences, who spoke to the alums.

"It's good for them to build those connections to climb up the ladder," she said. 

View more photos from the event.

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