Jasia Dickerson Earns Biomedical Engineering Degree, Joins Team at Johnson & Johnson

Jasia Dickerson has always wanted to help people. As a child, she dreamed of becoming a doctor. Then, briefly, a psychologist. But it wasn’t until her senior year in high school that Jasia discovered a field that captured both her altruism and her imagination: biomedical engineering. She wanted to design prosthetics for amputees. 

“I knew I wanted to do something in science, and that I really enjoyed building and creating,” says Dickerson, a 2014 alumna of Villa Duchesne. “When I expressed an interest in prosthetics, my counselor steered me toward engineering.”

By the time Jasia stepped to the podium at the 2014 Access Academies’ Annual Celebration Dinner, all that remained was to share her dream with a crowded ballroom of supporters. In the fall, Dickerson announced, she would attend the University of Miami and major in biomedical engineering. 

This summer, Jasia took a big step toward fulfilling her career dream. After receiving her diploma in May, she accepted a position as a Research and Development Technician at Johnson & Johnson. Today, still in Miami, Dickerson is helping develop a medical device that treats aneurysms before they cause fatal strokes. 

“They are letting me do real work at J&J,” says Jasia, excited to be receiving hands-on experience in her new position. “I’m learning a lot, and my mentor here is helping me grow into a real engineer.” 

While Jasia recognizes that hard work has driven her success, she admits that the journey hasn’t been without its trials. And she’s quick to credit the help she’s received along the way. Jasia struggled early in college and recalls leaning on her Access Graduate Support Director, Joslyn Sandford, for help. “I remember my freshman year was not my greatest,” Dickerson says, “I would talk to her about my grades and the challenges I faced transitioning to college. She was a huge support system.”

Grateful for the financial support she’s received, Jasia points out that were it not for both the high school visits Access organized or the scholarships from both Access and Villa, attending the acclaimed all-girls school might never have become a reality. Villa, she notes, wasn’t on her radar entering 7th grade.

For all of her early accomplishments, Jasia acknowledges that her career is only beginning. She’s excited to be working with medical devices but concedes that they aren’t prosthetics. “I still want to work for a prosthetics manufacturing company,” Dickerson says. “That’s still the goal.” 

Naturally, she has a plan to achieve it and has already begun to eye graduate programs — her top choice is a master’s degree in biomedical engineering (with a concentration in prosthetics) from Florida International University. Still, she knows applying for grad school can be challenging and was happy to learn that Access had formalized its College and Career Program. She considers herself fortunate to have had Sandford coaching her through Miami and realizes that the new College & Career counselor will be an invaluable resource for other Access graduates working toward their degrees.

“It still amazes me that I’ve had somebody in my corner since the 6th grade,” Dickerson says, “Access and Joslyn have followed me until I graduated from college.”