For our Alumni Spotlight, we are highlighting Jarrett Grimm-Vavlitis, currently an educational program manager at UNC-Chapel Hill. Wherever she goes, Jarrett speaks highly of her time in the MEITE program and highlights its flexibility and the diverse experiences that her cohort members brought to the program, which enriched class discussions and activities.
“I liked the interdisciplinary approach to the program… [it] gave me the opportunity to take classes in the School of Education, School of Information and Library Science, Kenan-Flagler Business School, and the computer science department,” she said. “I also did my internship with the makerspace in Kenan Science Library, so I really like how I got to pull these bits of information and experience from all of these different areas of campus that have been dovetailed together in a cool way.”
Jarrett’s story in educational innovation actually began in Chapel Hill, where she has lived since she was six years old, though she didn’t always think she would attend Carolina.
“When I was growing up here, I would say I’m not going to UNC-Chapel Hill,” she said. “However, I applied and attended an Explore Carolina Day for undecided students. It was so different from what I thought it would be, and I really liked it, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Jarrett earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Carolina and specialized in advertising. As an undergraduate, she worked part-time at the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, and upon graduating, she was offered a full-time position, which is how she got involved in education.
While at the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, Jarrett coordinated the Summer Enrichment Program, and that led her to the MEITE program.
“I really liked working there [the Summer Enrichment Program]; it was a great experience,” she said. “I started to become more and more interested in what was happening in makerspaces and the initiatives that were happening in that realm. I had that interest and had also heard about the MEITE program around the time I had intended to go into a master’s program, so it seemed to dovetail very nicely.”
Jarrett graduated in the 2016-17 cohort and became the manager of the Kidzu Children’s Museum’s makerspace. From there, she found a new opportunity in the UNC School of Medicine.
This past September, Jarrett took a new position as the education program manager in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology in the School of Medicine. She works with doctors, fellows, administrative support staff, and researchers focused on gastrointestinal biology and disease.
“Most of what I do is centered around the education program for the fellows. There are about 15 of them, and they are doing advanced training in gastroenterology.”
Jarrett oversees the day-to-day coordination of the program and focuses on grant writing, while leveraging digital tools and modules to support the fellows’ work. She also helps prepare fellows for their board examination using a text message format. Another aspect of her role includes being up to date with the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. In that capacity, Jarrett works to ensure the strong alignment between the curriculum being used in the School of Medicine and criteria required by the Council.
When asked about advice she would give to MEITE students, Jarrett had some for MEITE’s incoming cohort. First, she recommends MEITE students availing themselves to the different experiences available to them.
“There are so many opportunities that came across my attention while I was in the MEITE program, and certainly you cannot do them all, but even just going to guest speakers, it was always really interesting to hear people’s work in the field.”
She also recommends building a professional network, a key element when taking the next steps of your career.
“There are so many people who are happy to help or can put you in touch with someone that they know or someone you are interested in.”
Thank you, Jarrett, for these suggestions and for taking time to share with us!