Posted by on Feb 13, 2020 in Alumni, Student News | 0 comments

Alumni Ashanti Jackson and His Journey in Pursuing a Career in Chemistry

Ashanti Jackson, an entrepreneur from an early age, gained a love for chemistry at Emmanuel College, but never lost his desire to make his mark in business and to give back to the community. After Emmanuel, Ashanti made his start at a cheminformatics start-up company in Boston that helped to optimize the drug discovery process for synthetic chemists. Ashanti has now moved on to work as a Customer Success Manager and is transitioning into leading the product development and management department for a start-up company that specializes in helping non-profits and higher education institutions raise more money.

Ashanti has also been selected to join the Emmanuel College Young Alumni Council. The Young Alumni Council seeks to sustain and foster the active involvement of young alumni in support of Emmanuel College and the Alumni Association. The Council also acts in guiding the development of future leaders in ways that prepare them for active roles in alumni affairs and deepen their commitment to Emmanuel. Ashanti decided to join the Young Alumni Council so he could share his experiences throughout the early parts of his career journey that would hopefully resonate with future EC brights. 

When asked how Ashanti discovered his passion for chemistry he explained, “I was interested in science before I knew what science was. It was the unique challenge that chemistry always presented that drove me to continue to pursue a passion in it. I did not always know I wanted to study chemistry; however, I remember Dr. Gerdon teaching one of my first chemistry courses and he was super enthusiastic about chemistry being everywhere in life. I picked up on the itch specifically for chemistry there!”

When discussing his past involvement in the Chemistry & Physics Department, Ashanti shared, “Office hours were my life. I would go straight from volleyball practice to office hours so I could meet with my chemistry professors. Lab took up a large chunk of my college experience, so I became good friends with my lab mates. I did a lot of basic research to get my general skills ready for the research industry. I also played a very minor role on Dr. Ryvkin’s summer research team. Although the role was minor, the learning opportunity was massive in helping me figure out what I wanted to do.”

Ashanti also shared, “What I learned and value most from my undergrad experience was the ability to actively listen, build relationships and constantly strive to improve my skills within every course. Once you are engaged, every course becomes valuable for various reasons. PChem was most helpful in learning/understanding how much we don’t know, which is a constant variable moving forward in life.”

When asked about his previous job in cheminformatics Ashanti responded, “Our goal at my last company utilized cheminformatics to help optimize the drug discovery process for both synthetic and process chemists in the pharma and biotech companies across the world. We take this same approach with frontline fundraising with the startup I just joined…The most interesting project from my previous job was operationally constructing a process for a large pharma company to screen and store millions of compounds over a set period of months utilizing a fully automated remote synthesis lab.”

Currently Ashanti is a Customer Success Manager where he works to ensure his company can not only function but is also hitting the investor targets and is ultimately profitable. In other words, he makes sure that the entire customer base is effectively using the company’s tool. 

When advising students who are studying and are interested in pursuing a career in chemistry, Ashanti suggests, “Focus on and define for yourself what it means to “pursue” a career in chemistry. If you plan to innovate, then get ready, as it’s not glamorous but it’s extremely rewarding at the end of the road. Be highly motivated to achieve what it is you want to achieve. Most importantly, have fun, as it is key to enjoy your pursuit! Also, attempt to grow your EQ or emotional intelligence. The most successful leaders in science are highly collaborative and the future of innovation within science is highly collaborative.”

We are excited and lucky to have Ashanti representing Chemistry and Physics on the Young Alumni Council!

~Written by Amanda Castelluccio, edited by Aren Gerdon