Elizabeth A. Jordan, Ph.D.

Elizabeth JordanClass of 1993: BA, Elementary Education
Independent Early Childhood Consultant and Lecturer 1
University of Michigan-Flint & Mott Community College, Flint, MI

Dr. Jordan said, “I feel that being in the University of Michigan-Flint Honors Program exposed me to wonderful professors who helped me to expand my thinking and my goals. The program also exposed me to research and world-renowned researchers.” She is currently an Early Childhood Consultant and a Lecturer 1, teaching EDE & ECE classes at the University of Michigan-Flint. She also teaches ECE class for Mott Community College. Dr. Jordan consults for Great Start Readiness Programs in Michigan and for the National Association for the Education of Young Children in the Midwestern states. She attended Michigan State University where she obtained a Masters Degree in Child Development and Ph. D. in Family and Child Ecology. In the future, she intends to continue working with programs to help them raise the level of quality offered by assessment, coaching the staff, and providing professional development as needed. She would also like to extend her work internationally. Dr. Jordan’s advice to future Honors students: “I found the program demanding and hard work, but if you immerse yourself in the tasks it is an unparalleled learning experience that gives a great foundation for the future. A side benefit to the whole experience is that I was able to share what I learned with my children as they navigated the college path.”


Rachel Lewis

Rachael LewisClass of 1994: BS, Computer Science
Senior Software Engineer
Par-Tech, Inc., Lake Orion, MI

Rachel said, “The Honors Program provided an advantage over other graduates. While colleges were pumping out programmers back then, it was unusual to have a graduate with the background that the Honors Program offered. The experience of writing a thesis and doing the off-campus research made my resume stand out among the rest. It allowed me to research and learn the latest technology that was not yet offered in the Computer Science curriculum.” Rachel currently lives in Grand Blanc, Michigan with her husband and two children. She works for a small automotive service engineering company in Lake Orion as a senior software engineer. The company develops hardware and software used to diagnose and reprogram modules on vehicles (cars, trucks, semi trucks, motorcycles, etc.). She was the engineering manager for a time, but decided she would rather “do than manage those who do.” “We get to do some pretty neat things for the automotive industry, like work with Harley-Davidson motorcycles.” Rachel’s has work has allowed her to travel all over the US (Pennsylvania, Missouri, California, Nevada, etc.) and internationally (Germany, Japan, etc.). Rachel was hoping to retire by age 35, but didn’t make it. She would be happy to stay with her current company until retirement, as she watches her children grow. Rachel’s advice for future Honors students: “Do your work with integrity, don’t cheat. You won’t get away with it… at least not long term. Be a good person, even when people aren’t watching. Don’t go into a company and act like you know everything, because you don’t. There will always be people who know more than you do. In the software development field, we want to know that you are trainable. Each company does things a little differently and it’s your job to learn the established processes and products at your company and do the job for which you were hired. When you have some experience at that company, look for ways to improve current processes. We’re not just looking for good programmers. We look for someone who has experience with design, writing proposals and design documents and validation. We also look for someone with good communication skills (oral and written), someone we can put in front of a customer that exhibits professionalism, someone who is a team player with a small ego, and someone who works with honesty and integrity. Consider the feelings of others before you open your mouth. Be careful what you put on social networking sites because potential employers may be looking too.”


Vanessa Ferguson, MPA

Vanessa FergusonClass of 2003: BA, Communication
Adjunct Instructor, Mott Community College
Consultant, VCF Consulting
Writer and Researcher, Michigan Government Television

Vanessa said, “My off-campus study period led me to where I am working now with Michigan Government Television. In addition, it opened up research opportunities, which I was able to build on in graduate school and beyond.” She is currently a communications instructor at Mott Community College and writing for Michigan Government Television (Michigan’s version of C-SPAN). She also does consulting work with nonprofits and political candidates in Genesee, Oakland, and Lapeer Counties. Vanessa serves on several nonprofit boards and she and her husband have been coordinating the entire fundraising and planning efforts to build a $103,000 dog park at Creasey Bicentennial Park in Grand Blanc, MI. No public dollars are being used for the park. Vanessa received a Master’s in Communication from Michigan State University and a second Master’s in Public Administration from Eastern Michigan University. In the future, she plans to continue to expand her consulting work and expand her teaching beyond the college environment to train business professionals for public speaking and other communication skills. Vanessa’s advice to future Honors students: “Take advantage of everything that is available to you through the program. Recognize that the connections you make in your off-campus study period can be great networking opportunities for your future studies and/or career. Realize that you don’t always have to go overseas to have a fulfilling experience. In addition, the intense coursework in the core classes prepared me for my studies at one of the top graduate programs in my field. I saw other students from universities across the country struggle to keep up at this level and I felt confident and prepared to be successful because of the foundation I had from my time in the Honors Program. Plus, looking back over my college years these were some of my favorite courses during my time at the University of Michigan-Flint.”


Jeffery M. Coller, Ph.D.

Jeffery Coller

Class of 1994: BS, Biology
Assistant Professor
Center for RNA Molecular Biology
Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, OH

Dr. Coller said, “The Honors Program at UM-Flint was a quintessential experience in my life both personally and professionally. Personally, I met many brilliant people, some of whom I’m still friends with to this day. In fact, my best friend at that time is still my best friend today, and we keep in touch constantly. The Program helped me meet people that inspired me to reach my career goals. It was like a geeky support group. Second, the overseas experience was professionally critical. It opened my eyes to a big world of culture and opportunity. In fact, I can honestly say to this day that I would simply not be in the position I am in without the overseas experience.” He is currently an Assistant Professor in the Center for RNA Molecular Biology at Case Western Reserve University. He is a principle investigator of a federally funded research lab that focuses its research on understanding fundamental aspects of cellular function. His lab is comprised of 10 people, graduate students, and research technicians alike. Dr. Coller received his Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. He was then a Post-doctoral Fellow in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the University of Arizona -Tucson. In the future, he plans to continue to develop his lab’s research program doing the science that he loves. His advice to future Honors students: “Take advantage of your opportunity in this program. Dare to take a risk and do something you never thought you could do. It is a rare and golden opportunity to test your abilities. Also, make friends. The people you are surrounded by will one day be the leaders of our society. You can learn much from each other.”