40 under 40 - Jennifer Michaud Finch '98
How has having a Springfield College degree impacted you professionally?
Springfield College presented me with new opportunities, encouragement when I failed and support when I succeeded. SC opened the door to what was possible. SC fostered an environment where I was exposed to alumni, programs and experiences that allowed me to broaden my horizons. Dr. Mark Kenton, a fellow graduate of SC, paved the path for me. He blazed his own path to medical school and then took the time to help me with my journey to medical school. Again, I was successful because I had people surrounding me that believed in my ability, cared about my future and did this all selflessly.
My BS degree has impacted my career trajectory in ways that I did not think was possible. Sports biology was a perfect fit for me to study because it combined subject matter that made sense to me and was in line with how I wanted to live my life. SC is known around the world for its role in physical education, sports sciences, and leadership. I was instantly drawn to Springfield College as a prospective student because of the Humanics philosophy and the importance sport plays in the SC culture. This is most evident in my medical degree. I choose to earn my medical degree in Osteopathic Medicine because I already had a high regard for the Spirit-Mind-Body connection. As a sports cardiologist, I have the distinct honor of providing cardiac care for athletes.
My love of sports guided my career trajectory and I am grateful for mentors like Dr. Frank Torre, Dr. Mary Healey and Dr. Vincent Paolone, Dr. Mark Kenton who were teachers of science that gave me the foundation to pursue the study of human physiology and go onto medical school.
One of my most beloved experiences is my participation with the Boston Athletic Association which started in 2003 (as a medical student). I have run many marathons, including the Boston Marathon. I love running and wanted to give back to the running community. I wanted to stay connected to this great race when I entered medical school and therefore became a medical volunteer. I have been at the Boston Marathon finish line medical tent since 2006 and continue to support athletes all over the world.
Who influenced you when you were a student at Springfield College and explain the role they played in your life?
The moment I stepped into the Pueblo at East Campus for Pre-Camp, I knew that SC was a special place. I grew up in Maine, where the outdoors gave me miles of trails to run, mountains to summit and lakes to be refreshed in. However, SC taught me that the outdoors is not just for recreation, but can be a source of healing, rehabilitation and a classroom and this was a new perspective for me.
Dr. Mary Healey, is unequivocally the most influential person I encountered during my time at SC. She not only is a brilliant teacher, but also is a compassionate mentor. She was one of many female role models that I encountered at SC, whose perseverance, achievement and collegiality motivated me and continue to inspire me today. After I graduated from SC, I often would reach out to Dr. Healey for advice. As busy as she is, she always took the time to speak with me personally.
Dr. Vincent Paolone, who allowed me to take his graduate level exercise physiology class as an undergraduate, also made a significant impact. This is where I discovered that the exercise sciences could be applied in research, exercise performance and clinically. This was a crucial revelation for me as I began to form the ideals of my career trajectory. Dr. Paolone encouraged me to apply to graduate school in exercise physiology and to experience range of opportunity that can come from this discipline.
I had the pleasure of meeting Linda Cruz Moffat on my first (of four) humanitarian mission to Haiti with Springfield College. Her presence, as an alumni who continued to take pride in SC and as successful business woman, had significant impact on me.
I was grateful for the time I spent with the New Student Orientation and John Wilcox. John introduced me to this diverse group of student leaders, student enthusiasts, student scholars, artists and athletes and probably imprinted in me the most important lessons and values during my time at SC.
If you could share one piece of advice with today's current Springfield College student, what would it be?
When I was on the cross country and track field teams, the senior women I ran with developed a "psych buddy" system. They would match up a senior runner with a new runner to the team. Each week before a race, the new runners would receive a motivational note from the senior runner. I remember the first note I received, "Shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you will land among the stars." I loved it! Running, like life, sometimes asks to push your boundaries, to make yourself uncomfortable and to strive for something incredible. Remember, you are capable of anything and everything.
Who you want to thank personally for the role they have played in your success?
My parents, Dr. David and Rheba Michaud and sisters, Tracy Michaud Stutzman, PhD and Becky Michaud Melville G'10.
My dad compiled a track and field file during my high school and college athletic career. He was so proud of all his daughters (3 in total) and instilled in us his love and respect of sport and competition. I think he secretly like that his girls would beat the boys. He (along with my mom and sisters) stood for the entire day, track side, to cheer me on, stopwatch in hand. My parents were my cheerleaders and they instilled in me a confidence I didn’t know I possessed. That support also extended into school endeavors. My parents allowed me to dream and take chances. I am thankful for their selflessness and unconditional love.
My husband, Andrew Finch, has been a champion of my career, my athletic endeavors and my soul mate. Andrew, himself an elite rower, former USA National Team member, gold medal winner at the 1995 Pan Am games, US Elite National Championships in 1994-1995 and Winner of the Head of the Charles (1995), continues to stay involved in sport and the health of young athletes. In addition to supporting my career, he had been the cornerstone of our family, raising our 2 children, Drew age 15 and Emma, age 8. He brings laughter, light and unconditional love to my life daily.
My friend, Mark Kenton ’94, G’96, for his advice, encouragement and support of my medical career and for opening his home to me during my medical student rotations when he was my teacher in his emergency room (here in Springfield).
My friend, Elizabeth Blazick '98. We met wearing our beanies in Gulick Hall and never looked back! She has been a friend, colleague and role model for me. Beth, herself an accomplished vascular surgeon, also traveled a similar path regarding her medical career. I respect and admire my friend because despite her busy career, she always makes time to visit each other and laugh!
My friend, Kristen Donato Maday '97 and I ran together at Springfield College. She is a tremendous athlete. I was always chasing this All-American and never caught her. Kristen inspired me, because she was tough, focused and successful. Kristen helped me focus, train and patiently refine my talent with skill and sportsmanship.
My mentor, Aaron Baggish, MD at Massachusetts General Hospital, Director of the Cardiovascular Performance Program, opened the door to the sports cardiology world for me. He has been a leading researcher and clinician in sport cardiology and set the ground work in the cardiovascular care of athletes. I appreciate the opportunity to work with Dr. Baggish and make a meaningful impact of the health of athletes.