Dermatologist Dr. Jennifer Pennoyer ’85 P ’14 ’22 addressed the Kingswood Oxford assembly as the Harry E. Goldfarb Directorship speaker. The Directorship, created by William H. Goldfarb ’64 and his brother Robert Goldfarb, was designed to oversee collaborative teaching and research among faculty members of the science, math, technology disciplines, including the engagement of speakers to inspire students in science and medical careers.
Pennoyer introduced her talk with a short video of her busy Bloomfield office that featured cameo appearances of Head of School Dennis Bisgaard, Lynn Schork and Brenda Semmelrock seeking “treatment.” In Semmelrock’s case, she jokingly admitted, “I need everything done.”
Following her graduation from KO, Pennoyer attended Harvard, majored in American history and played ice hockey on a team that captured three Ivy titles. Her career in medicine was not immediate, and she enrolled in pre-med classes only beginning in her junior year in college. Despite some naysayers who questioned why she would pursue a career in medicine since her future husband was studying to be a doctor, Pennoyer persisted in her goal. She said, “Don’t get me mad. Nothing motivates me more. Don’t respect others' low expectations of yourself.”
Pennoyer challenged the KO students to find a job where they can make a difference. Pennoyer’s dermatology practice specializes in the medical and surgical treatment of skin disorders such as skin cancer. She stated that one person dies per day in the United States from skin cancer. Since she started in her medical career, Pennoyer said the rate of skin cancers has increased 77%, which she attributes to a thinning of the ozone layer. Pennoyer treats various forms of skin cancer from basal cell, the most common, to squamous and finally, the most aggressive and fifth cause of death in the United States, melanoma.
Another factor in job satisfaction, Pennoyer told the students, was to pursue a career that offers variety and opportunities for new learning. She shared several state-of-the-art technologies that keep her on the leading edge of the field while contributing to her sense of discovery. One such technology, cool sculpting, freezes fat cells. Other technologies, including topical chemotherapy and photodynamic therapy, help patients and prevent surgery down the road. The technology in laser treatment is ever evolving which requires Pennoyer to synthesize new information constantly. These lasers can decrease redness, shrink pores, remove brown spots and tattoos with ease. Lastly, Pennoyer described a new technology, platelet-rich plasma that releases growth factors to regulate healing for the treatment of hair loss.
She closed the assembly with sage advice. “Set goals. Keep moving ahead. Be adaptable and strive for the best. And don’t forget to enjoy the journey.”