The most magnificent part of my job is having the opportunity to meet and get acquainted with so many St. Kate’s alumni!
This month’s alum is 2020 graduate Jasmine Manivanh, who tells us all about her background, time at St. Kate’s, and current position as a Software Support Analyst at MatrixCare. During her time at the university, Jasmine studied Data Science and minored in Mathematics. So without further ado, I will let Jasmine tell her story!
The following text is a general transcription of our interview as told to Mandy by Jasmine. It is split up into sections for an easier read.
Applying for College
For college, I really had one goal in mind: the University of Minnesota. This was the school I heard about most when I was growing up, so when I was put on the waitlist, I was heartbroken.
At the last minute I reached out to 10 different schools and I was accepted to a good handful, but St. Kate’s had the best scholarship out of all of them. I understand that in general, private schools are more expensive, but by providing me with a competitive scholarship, St. Kate’s showed me they wanted me.
Making the College Decision
It wasn’t really until I did an on-campus visit during spring break that I made my decision. The time I chose to visit was really nice because I think I would’ve been overwhelmed with everyone walking on campus. However, getting to see the small and friendly community was super great.
I actually got to sit in with the math department and get to know some of the professors. In that meeting, they sat me down and they let me know that they thought I would be a great fit and they said that I’ve got the potential to be someone great in math. So that’s kind of what pulled me in– the very tight-knit, family feeling in the department. That was something that was totally different from the U of M, so I didn’t realize I wanted it until I visited St. Kate’s.
When I started at St. Kate’s, I was a math major and until I figured out that calculus is pretty difficult. And so it was Kristine Pelatt and Monica Brown who told me about the new Data Science major, a combination of math, statistics, and computer science. Since I already had most of the classes done, I went for it!
In my first year, I was not really involved in anything. I just wanted to hang out with friends and go to class. But by my second year, one of my friends called me out and told me that she was going to sign me up to be a board member of a club.
The club she was talking about is WiMSE, or the Women in Math, Science, and Engineering club, which was on the brink of dying out because they needed more board members and more student involvement. My friend said, “If you care about women in math, science, and engineering, (which you are), you’re going to be in this club.” So that was that. Plus, without me stepping in for WiMSE, we would not still have that club. And to my knowledge, that club is flourishing right now, and there are so many people who want to be a part of it.
I remember it was a big struggle to get people to come to our events, because what would you expect when you hear “math club”? Like, you’re going to sit there and do math problems? No one wants to do that. So we watched movies, went to the Science Museum, and put on Pi Day events with pie for a good price and “Pi Your Professor” to try and make math fun for everyone.
SEASA and AWA
Joining WiMSE sparked me to join more clubs, so I was involved in the Southeast Asian Student Association (SEASA) before it stopped, and then in my senior year, I was part of the Asian Women Association (AWA). AWA really struggled my last year– because of the pandemic, they didn’t get to do our biggest event, Celebrasia.
I enjoyed all of it, and my involvement even got me on LEAD Team. That was really cool. I remember as a first-year, I was like, “I don’t know what I’m doing and I don’t want to be here. This is really cheesy,” but by my senior year, I was the person in front of everyone having people play games and helping everyone have fun. LEAD Team was so good for me. It taught me how to talk in front of people, it taught me how to lead, and it taught me how to be professional.
Graduating Amidst the Pandemic
My senior year was cut short. It was really tough to work out normal last-minute senior things, like tougher classes, final projects, and my capstone project. Senior year spring semester is crunch time because if you don’t get things done before graduation, you can’t graduate.
And then the pandemic added lots of stress. I had to move back home and take my classes online. I remember not having great internet and I could barely keep my camera on in class or my computer would kick me out of the Zoom meetings.
I imagined graduation differently. I wanted my family there to see and take pictures. My friends and I were able to do this, but it wasn’t the same without my whole family there cheering me on. I’m thankful that St. Kate’s tried their best to accommodate us. Ultimately, my roommates from my senior year were able to graduate and take pictures together.
Finding a Job After Graduation
After finishing up school, I applied to a total of roughly 130 jobs, and I heard back from maybe 10. I think this was a tough time for employers too; they were flooded with job applications but didn’t have the time or means to respond to everyone.
At MatrixCare, my current employer, I actually interviewed for a clinical job that worked with tech support. My background is not clinical so I was not offered the position. However, two weeks later, they called me about another job on the financial side and it was a great fit for me. It’s where I’m at today.
To add details about my employer, MatrixCare is a software that helps (generally seniors) maintain their health. MatrixCare is here to help people, plain and simple.
A Day in the Life
My day-to-day is simple, as I’m able to work from home and I hope to continue this for the near future.
Roughly 80% of my day is spent on phone calls. I talk to nurses, billers, insurance companies, and residents who have questions. It really ties into my major, data science, too, because we’re working on software that programs a computer to do the math on billing a resident correctly, helping as many people in the clinical field as I can.
My job is so rewarding for me because I just get to help people all day! Just today, an older woman called and said to me, “I was working on this for a week. Why didn’t I just call you? You explained it so easily!”
Advice for St. Kate’s Students
I would say my biggest advice is: go for it.
If I didn’t go for it by trying out a club, then WiMSE might not be here today, and I would not have been on LEAD Team and acquired public speaking and leadership skills.
If I didn’t go for it and apply to over 130 jobs, I would not be here in a company that actually values its employees.
And well, if I hadn’t said, go for it, and visited St. Kate’s, I would still be crying about not getting into the U of M.
Just go for it.