Medicine to Mentorship: Jennifer Hella finds passion in helping Raiders

Thursday, June 27, 2024
Written by: Carla Peterson

In the ever-evolving landscape of our academic community, the stories of our alumni can inspire and transform. One such story is that of Jennifer Hella, whose journey is a testament to the power of following one’s passion. Originally from the medical field, Hella transitioned to Seminole State College of Florida as a post-baccalaureate student, where she re-discovered her interest in programming and data analysis.

“I felt like I previously made a mistake choosing biology because I really love computers and technology,” said Hella. “I wanted to make a career out of my hobbies. I researched Seminole State College and other colleges (local and online) and decided that Seminole State had the best program that would teach me exactly what I needed to change careers.”

Hella completed the Associate in Science in Computer Programming and Analysis and now works as a registry programmer at Birth Defects Research for Children, Inc. Her primary focus is the National Birth Defect Registry, which is an online research project that gathers data on birth defects. She also works as a part-time course assistant at Seminole State, tutoring students in computer programming. “Jennifer tutors and assists students in over a dozen of our programming courses. All our students think the world of her!” said Marwan Shaban, professor and program manager for Computer Programming and Analysis.

Hella recognized how her teachers impacted her educational journey and even her roles today. “I really felt like I learned to program and was ready to jump right into a job. Professors like Richard Grant, one of the greatest programming instructors ever. I still remember his variable swap demo in COP1000. I sometimes use it when I try to explain it to new COP1000 students,” she said. “I felt like he not only wanted his students to succeed, but also be 100% prepared for the real world of programming. He is retired now, but I hope he knows how great of a programming teacher he is!”

During her studies here, Hella’s educational ethic stood out and she became a part-time tutor. She found her secondary passion of assisting Seminole State students learn computer programing. “I’m also proud of all the students I’ve help throughout the years working in my course assistant role here. It’s wonderful to see students just have programming ‘click’ for them and go on to do well in their courses,” Hella said.

As a non-traditional student herself, Hella has great advice for many potential Raiders coming from similar walks of life. “I’d really like to encourage anyone who wants to go back to school either for the first time or for a career change to take the plunge. I did it and I’m very happy.” She said, “I’ve had students that I’ve helped tell me they are returning to school for a career change or even attending for the first time in their 60’s and 70’s.”

About the Computer Programming and Analysis program

Seminole State’s Associate in Science (A.S.) degree in Computer Programming and Analysis prepares students for entry level positions in the software development industry. In addition, the degree offers a direct path to transfer into Seminole State's Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Information Systems Technology.

About Seminole State College of Florida

Seminole State College of Florida, established in 1965, serves more than 22,000 students across six sites in Central Florida. A full-service education provider, Seminole State has thrived by adapting to and meeting the needs of an ever-changing, vibrant community. Seminole State offers 11 bachelor’s degrees in high-demand, high-growth fields; two-year associate degrees; specialized certificates; continuing professional education; adult education and guaranteed admission via DirectConnect to UCF® to the University of Central Florida for Associate in Arts (A.A.) graduates. By offering flexible, affordable, high-quality educational programs and services, the College continues to help students learn, succeed and GO Far. For more about Seminole State, visit

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