Follow the Signs: Graduate Goes from Dream School to Dream Job

Thursday, April 27, 2017

by Colleen Sabatino '11 (M.A.)

In 2013, Alexandra Homan made the decision to attend Saint Joseph’s University with the help of three people: her mother, her grandfather and His Holiness Pope Francis.

The first time she set foot on Saint Joseph’s campus, the Cherry Hill, New Jersey, native, who will join the company store division of beauty giant L’Oréal after graduation, felt at home.

Still, Homan had reservations about leaving her single mom and sister to go to college and adding financial pressure on the family. She felt she needed a sign that she was making the right decision, and that attending Saint Joseph’s would put her the right career path.

“My mom and I both value our faith, and we are big on signs — listening to God when making decisions,” she says.

Her mother and grandfather helped her through the admissions and financial aid process, encouraging her to follow her heart, despite her trepidations. After being accepted, the three of them scheduled a visit to meet with financial aid and admissions counselors on campus. On their way to the appointment, Homan’s phone buzzed with an alert from Pope Francis’ Twitter account, to which she had subscribed. “Dear young people,” the tweet read, “do not bury your talents, the gifts that God has given you! Do not be afraid to dream of great things.”

She took it as a sign.

“After the meeting, my mom asked me what I thought, and before I could answer, my grandfather said, ‘this is her dream school; she has to go here. We will make it happen,’” Homan says.

On national college decision day, May 1, 2013, as she readied to make the decision official, Homan was alerted to another papal tweet: “Dear young friends, learn from Saint Joseph. He went through difficult times, but he always trusted, and he knew how to overcome adversity.”

Sign number two.

“Who would have thought Pope Francis would have such a role in my decision,” Homan laughs, “and that while I was here, he would come to campus.”

On September 27, 2015, Pope Francis made a historic visit to Saint Joseph’s University during the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, blessing the newly dedicated statue, “Synagoga and Ecclesia in Our Time.

Active in SJU’s campus ministry, Homan served as a minister of communion and volunteer during the World Meeting of Families.

During her four years at Saint Joseph’s, Homan strived to live the values instilled in her by her family, and the Jesuit ideals espoused by Pope Francis and the Saint Joseph’s community. A leadership, ethics and organizational sustainability (LEO) and marketing major, Homan also participated in APEX, serving as a leader during her senior spring break, and was a resident assistant and an orientation leader.

As with her extracurriculars, Homan’s desire to give back guided her academic path.

“My LEO classes opened my eyes to all the ways companies can be mindful and sustainable,” she says.

She interned with Campbell Soup on The Soulful Project, an initiative that donated food to local foodbanks when consumers purchase certain products, and worked on a capstone project to help the company become B-corps certified.

Inspired by the discussions in a class taught by David Steingard, associate professor of LEO, she sought out research and watched documentaries, including one on sustainability issues in the fashion industry. Homan decided to do a consumer assessment of herself, starting with her beauty products.

“I noticed I had a lot of L’Oréal’s products,” Homan says, “and as I researched the company, I was excited to read about their ethical standards, which include making sure employees around the world benefit from the best social practices and efforts to make beauty products that work for people of all ethnicities.”

In 2017, L’Oreal was named one of the World's Most Ethical Companies by the Ethisphere Institute for the eighth year in a row.

For Homan, this mission-focused approach, this push for the more, was attractive. “I see the magis being carried out in their business model,” she says. “They are committed to challenging themselves to be innovative, while also inspiring the entire beauty industry to raise and redefine the standards to be more inclusive and more sustainable”

She sought and was hired for an internship during the winter of her senior year, and in March accepted a full-time position beginning a week after graduation.

Homan hopes to continue to excel at the company and is interested in becoming involved in researching consumer responses to sustainable products and initiatives as well as educating consumers.

“It’s a company and a community I could see myself growing with,” she says.

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