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Pictured is Leroy Headen, a 2013 biotechnology alum of Point Park who was hired by Ashland Chemical. | Photo by Chris Rolinson

Meet Leroy Headen

Job title: Chemical Laboratory Technician
Ashland Inc.
Degrees earned:
Bachelor of Science in biotechnology, Point Park University, Associate of Arts degree, Westmoreland County Community College
Graduation years: 2009 and 2013
New Kensington, Pa.
High School:
Valley High School
Now living in:
Arnold, Pa.
Basketball, biking, enjoying a good cigar, amateur astronomy, scientific documentaries, fringe science and listening to Coast to Coast AM radio

Why did you decide to major in biotechnology?

I love science and a degree in biotechnology offered me an excellent opportunity to pursue my dream of becoming a scientist. This degree has courses in biology, chemistry and genetics. That diverse combination of scientific disciplines qualifies me to work in a wide variety of fields with high earning potential.

What factors made you choose Point Park?

First, my best friend graduated from Point Park. He highly recommended I explore the school and its degree options. I have always wanted to attend a university in Pittsburgh and after I met with Emily Quidetto from Point Park's Department of Natural Sciences and Engineering Technology, I knew Point Park was for me. She informed me that I could receive my science degree at night, which would enable me to keep my day job. What also attracted me to Point Park was the smaller class sizes.

How did you land your current position at Ashland Chemical?

As graduation neared, I turned to Point Park's Career Development Center for help in finding a new job. Santina Frazer and Angela Scaramucci were instrumental in guiding me toward internships and helping me reformat my resume. I took some of the concepts I learned from the Career Development Center and applied them to my job search. I was also in a good position to land a new job having two years of experience in the biotechnology field working for Sylvan Bioscience. Through a lot of hard work and patience, I landed a job at Ashland Chemical.

What was one of your favorite experiences at Point Park?

I've had a lot of great experiences at Point Park including graduation day, hanging out and studying with lab partners, but the one experience that stands out is my very first day of classes. It was a Saturday chemistry class and I was feeling kind of nervous so to calm my nerves, I arrived early to get a front row seat and talk to my professor. Unfortunately, the class door was locked so I decided to sit in the hallway and wait with an engineering technology student named Tom Lewis who was also taking the chemistry class. Tom and I had a lot in common. We were both non-traditional students with similar backgrounds and we both had some anxiety about college life. In addition to my conversation with Tom, being introduced to a great chemistry teacher also put me at ease. To top off my first day, Point Park offered a free breakfast buffet.

What are your career goals?

I seek to grow to my fullest potential at Ashland Chemical. Also, I would like to expand my small businesses of Lee's Lawn Care and Ma' Taught Cleaning and to possibly pursue a master's degree in material science.

What advice do you have for our biotechnology students?

I recommend putting a lot of hours into studying and learning the material. I know many students also have to work but making the time to study is important. If you're having trouble, a Point Park professor will help you.

A biotechnology degree will give you a wide variety of employment options such as biotechnologist, bioinformatics and genetic engineering. I also recommend getting some laboratory experience and working with some of the scientific staffing agencies. Good Luck!

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

I want to thank God and the group of people who helped me change my life around. A special thanks goes out to my grandfather and mother who stood by me throughout my educational experience. Also, I could not have done this without my numerous study buddies, the Program for Academic Success, my advisor Dr. Diane Krill and Library Resources Sharing Coordinator Melanie Kirchartz, who helped me find countless articles for my research assignments.


More About: Career Development Center, biotechnology, alumni, Valley High School, natural sciences