Young adults come to college expecting to attend class, study hard, and graduate with a degree. What most do not expect, are the mentors and role models they will find along the way. Mark Jardin ’87 graduated from Sacred Heart University with a double major in Political Science and Business. Mark looks back on his time at SHU fondly. He remembers the friends and the experiences, but what he cherishes most are the professors who shaped and prepared him for a successful career.
As the first person in his family to graduate from college, Mark took advantage of all that SHU had to offer. He was Senior Class President for Student Government and a Brother of the Sigma Tau Omega fraternity. “Between my fraternity brothers, all the Greeks, the professors and administrators, SHU was one great big extended family.” In addition to his extracurricular activities, Mark’s engagement in the classroom has left a lasting impact. “There are several professors whom, to this day, I remember vividly and made a true impression on me.” Mark mentions Dr. Gary Rose, Dr. John Kikoski, Dr. Michelle Loris and Dr. Thomas Patrick Melady as his most memorable mentors. Specifically, Dr. Rose guiding him on a path toward business when his initial goal was law school: “Dr. Rose counseled me to stick with a Political Science major which I enjoyed so much while helping me to figure out how to add a Business major to my curriculum. I graduated with a double major, for this, I will be eternally grateful.”
Mark’s career has soared since his graduation from SHU. “I have been in the health insurance industry pretty much since graduating SHU. I didn’t choose it, I stumbled upon it.” In 1988, Mark began his career at Aetna and he remained there for over two decades. “I had the great pleasure of working for Aetna for 22 years, in which I had many different opportunities to lead various types of insurance – Higher Education Insurance, which brought me to my current count of 35 US states visited and International Insurance, which brought me to my current count of 34 countries visited.” Throughout his travels, Mark’s SHU education proved to be invaluable. “Dr. John Kikoski…the professor that opened my mind up to a whole new world, literally, world politics and in particular the Middle East. In one of his classes, we studied a particular country, the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It was mind-boggling at the time that a country could be formed in the 1970s – a fact I never forgot. In my wildest dreams, I never thought I would not only travel to, but live in this Middle Eastern country for two years with my family.”
After Aetna, Mark became a consultant in the health insurance industry and most recently, he has joined Highmark Health as Vice President of Commercial Markets. He recently visited Sacred Heart and was reminded of the memories and connections he has to the University. “After almost 30 years, returning to SHU brought back a flood of memories and emotions that I thought I had forgotten...If there is one thing I hope for, it is that SHU continues to foster this type of environment, so that many more students can gain an appreciation for so many things.” Mark’s mentors inspired him and he hopes that current students will have the same good fortune.