Faces of Success: Our Graduates on Their Careers

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  • Elaine Johnson, Bio-Link Director
  • Jo-Anne Hongo, Scientific Manager, Genentech
This interactive session, back by popular demand, features a lively panel of successful industry professionals who gained employability skills at community and technical colleges. Individuals share their pathways to rewarding careers in high-skill, high-wage positions in the biotechnology industry thanks to the access and affordability of targeted programs at community and technical colleges. Active audience participation is encouraged.

Topics and Speakers:

  • Shannon Lewis, Research Assistant, Sapphire Energy, San Diego, CA

I am currently working at Sapphire Energy, a biofuels company that transforms different strains of algae into gasoline and other fuels. I started out as a summer intern on a science team that worked on gene insertion and tested for gene expression. At the end of the summer, I was offered a full-time position on the Media Preparation team where I make several types of solid and liquid media. My goal is to move up in this company and become part of a scientific research and development team. I want to help eliminate the energy crisis we are currently facing. I started my biotechnology/biomanufacturing education at Great Bay Community College in Portsmouth, NH and I am starting my Bachelor's degree at San Diego State University this fall.


  • Aziz Ahmad, Adjunct Instructor, Forsyth Technical Community College

Aziz Ahmad received his doctor of medicine degree from the University of Kabul, Kabul, Afghanistan in 1975. He worked at Duke University Medical Center in the Department of Clinical Pathology for over 21 years where he worked in service labs, clinical labs, and specialty labs such as toxicology. During this time he did some limited research on the optic nerve. Upon retirement, he decided to work toward an Associate of Applied Science in Biotechnology degree. He attended Forsyth Technical Community College where he completed all of his biotechnology courses. Presently he is serving as an adjunct instructor at Forsyth Technical Community College where he is teaching two courses of Basics of Anatomy and Physiology. He continues to finish his Associate in Applied Science degree by taking his basic remaining required courses through distance learning. His goal is to use his biotechnology education with his laboratory and medical knowledge to research drug delivery systems for the eye.