Jennifer Setlak graduated from Loyola in 2001 with her BS in biology (she also attended the John Felice Rome Center during the spring of 2000). For a few years after graduation, she worked as a research tech in a neurobiology lab. She then “dusted off her forensic dream” and decided to pursue her passion. These days, she’s a “super-crime-fighting-DNA-analyst” who loves baseball, her cats, Disney World, and her crazy family. She indulges her creative side by playing the piano and crocheting. Even though she’s in Florida, she tries to stay out of the heat as much as possible (something that makes her the envy of all her Chicago friends)!
What’s the most enduring lesson you learned at Loyola?
I learned that you really can find God in all things. It’s always easier to find God in church, but if you can quiet your mind and really look around you, God is everywhere.
What’s your favorite memory of Loyola?
The night after graduation there was a plan to meet up on the rocks in front of the Jes Res to watch the sun come up. I remember it was one of the most beautiful sunrises I’d ever seen. It reminded me that the next chapter of my life was about to start.
Where was your favorite place on campus?
The Jes Res lawn! As soon as the weather turned warm I would head out there with a blanket and a book. I always had good intentions of studying, but somehow I always got distracted by the volleyball team.
What’s your favorite place in Chicago?
Wrigley Field – I just love the tradition that surrounds Wrigley. You can almost feel the history as soon as you walk into the stadium. There’s nothing better than drinking an Old Style with good friends and cheering on the Cubbies from the bleachers.
Why did you decide to become a crime lab analyst?
I love this job because it combines my love of science with the chance to serve my community in a concrete, tangible way. I like to think that I work for the victims and try to bring the truth to the surface. And, though it took me a while to get here, my advice is to never give up on your dream. If you really want something, you need to do whatever it takes to make that happen. Even if you have to leave everyone you know behind and move across the country [Jenni moved to Florida for her current job]. And besides, isn’t that what God invented cell phones for?
What’s the most interesting part of your job?
How stupid criminals are! A good example is the burglar who drinks a beer out of your fridge while he’s robbing you, then leaves it behind, covered in fingerprints and DNA.
What is the greatest piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life. And it is so true! I love my job because I feel that I have a purpose when I come into work–that what I do makes a difference to someone.
What (or who) inspires you?
My parents. They have always supported me, no matter what I wanted to do in life. From an ill-fated attempt at rollerblading, to owning a horse, to moving to Florida (where I didn’t know a soul) to pursue my dream job, they have been behind me every step.
Describe your perfect day.
I am a Disney Season Pass holder, so my perfect day would be spent at Disney World with my best friends and family. It would be sunny, but not hot, and we would never have to wait in a line for more than 10 minutes.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Usually my cat, Sophie, begging for treats. There’s a routine that must be followed and if she doesn’t get her treats right away, she’ll let you know that she’s still waiting.
What’s your favorite Chicago pizza place?
Pizano’s–get the Rudy’s Special!
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Reality TV! And it’s not my fault, really. I first started watching some of the shows so that I could know what everyone at work was talking about. My current favorite is “So You Think You Can Dance,” although I never vote. You should watch!
Which one best describes you in college: athlete, intellectual, artist, young professional, activist, or social butterfly?
I was a spirituality seeker. My sophomore year I went on the Search retreat. It really changed how I thought and communicated with God. It was also such an uplifting experience to see my peers going through the same struggles with faith that I was.