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Honoring the passion, dedication and action of 6 remarkable
South Jersey women

Photography by David Michael Howarth
Shot on location at Collingswood Ballroom

Jaylyn Thompson, Medical student, Rowan-Virtua School
of Osteopathic Medicin

Woman to Watch

Jaylyn Thompson

Medical student, Rowan-Virtua School of Osteopathic Medicine

Jaylyn Thompson, 24, was in her first year of medical school and already involved in academic research on rising maternal mortality rates when her own sister’s traumatic pregnancy brought the subject close to home. Knowing the many ways the U.S. health system fails Black women made it gratifying – and scary – to help her sister Brielle Savage (this year’s Women of Excellence Inspiration honoree) get the care she needed.

“We didn’t want to think about Brielle’s pregnancy in terms of my research, but it was definitely a reality,” she says, noting that both Brielle and her baby faced life-threatening conditions. “Seeing someone I truly care about go through this was terrifying.”

Although Jaylyn is only halfway through her studies she is already a rising voice for improving maternal and infant health outcomes. In the fall, as a New Jersey Birth Justice Advocate working with First Lady Tammy Murphy’s Nurture NJ initiative, she led discussions on pressing issues about mother and infant mortality. Jaylyn also organized a panel discussion for medical students at Rowan-Virtua SOM on racial inequities in maternal care that included Brielle discussing her birth story, which Jaylyn says moved the audience to tears.

“It’s one thing to study and research the problem, but we as medical students don’t hear enough patient stories,” says Jaylyn, who is also president of Rowan-Virtua SOM’s Medical Students for Choice, treasurer of the American Medical Women’s Association and involved in many other student-led groups.

While her activism admittedly cuts into time that could be spent studying, Jaylyn says the work ethic she developed as an elite athlete – first playing D1 soccer at Virginia Tech and then as a professional soccer player in Europe – helps with time management. Jaylyn played almost 2 years in the pros, and played with an Italian team while also pursuing a masters degree in sports management at the American University of Rome.

“When I get stressed or overwhelmed with medical school, I remember what my sister went through, and it keeps me grounded and very motivated,” she adds. “I’m not exactly sure of the specifics about what I will do in the OB/GYN field, but helping to lower mortality rates is my underlying passion.”

Styling by Sarah Gleeson

Makeup by Vanessa Lopez for Jaylyn Thompson, Brielle Savage & Suzan Nickelson; by Melisa Ortiz/Rizzieri Salon & Spa for Zeynep Yuderi & Marguerite Schroeder; by Jessica Palumbo/Rizzieri Salon & Spa for Ivette Guillermo-McGahee

Hair by Ashley Voit/Rizzieri Salon & Spa for Brielle Savage & Jaylyn Thompson; by Mackenzie Garland for Zeynep Yuderi; by Debra Beach/Rizzieri Salon & Spa for Ivette Guillermo-McGahee; by Tiffany D’Argenzio/Rizzieri Salon & Spa for Marguerite Schroeder

See all of our 2023 Women of Excellence Honorees!

May 2023
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