Getting to know...

Gwen Alexander

The St. Jude STEMM Education and Outreach Program Manager on schools, the spirit of Memphians, and her hope for the city’s students.


I work in the STEMM (science, technology, engineering, math, and medicine) Education and Outreach department at St. Jude, starting with grades nine through early college, cultivating students' interest in STEMM careers. One of the marquee programs I oversee is the eight-week summer High School Research Immersion Program for rising high school seniors. 

Students spend eight weeks on the St. Jude campus engaged in hands-on practical lab experience under the direction of St. Jude scientists in various research disciplines including laboratory, epidemiology, clinical and data sciences, I know and understand that exposure is key. Young people being in spaces and seeing something they can aspire to is very important. Our summer program also includes college readiness workshops focused on exploring their story of becoming in science as well as preparing a college essay based on their research experience. The students become ambassadors for St. Jude–not just the research that's going on in the labs, but St. Jude as a special place. It is a place where you see innovations from the benchtop to the bedside. I hope to see many of these participating students graduate high school here in Memphis, inspired to pursue STEMM related degrees, and returning one day as scientists and physicians here at St. Jude.

There's something special about the connections and relationships we have gained at work, in the community and through our kids.

Gwen Alexander

STEMM Education and Outreach Program Manager

East Memphis

Gwen Alexander and kids
Gwen Alexander and family


When we came to Memphis 13 years ago, we wanted to make sure our three kids would get the best academic foundation along with the opportunity to engage in community organizations. Our two daughters attend Hutchison School, and our son attends Memphis University School, two top-tier independent schools passionate about academic success and cultivating, well-rounded global leaders. They've been able to thrive in these settings—excellent learning environments and supportive teachers who know how to teach to their audience and who instill confidence and empowerment in all their students. 


Memphis is a midsize city, but still feels like a small town. You can get pretty much anywhere in the city in about 15-20 minutes. The people are very welcoming and warm; there's something special about the connections and relationships we have gained at work, in the community and through our kids. There is a great sense of optimism that exists among the people and communities here for what is possible for this city, and it's no coincidence that St. Jude is right in the center of it.


We live in an area called River Oaks, located in East Memphis, and honestly, it's the best neighborhood in Memphis. It's convenient to everywhere, not far from the interstate, so we have easy access to the kids' schools, the airport, our church, shopping, really anything we need and enjoy doing. Our preferred schools were close, so looking for a home in this area made sense. During the pandemic, my husband and I took daily neighborhood walks, allowing us time out of the house to exercise and get fresh air. There’s also a few restaurants that are within walking distance of our neighborhood, including Capital Grille, River Oaks Restaurant, Benihana Japanese Restaurant and Sweet LaLa’s Bakery. We can also walk over to the Malco Ridgeway Cinema Grill and catch the latest movies.

Memphis is convenient to many different cities. My husband is a music executive, so he spends a lot of time traveling to nearby Nashville and Atlanta or conveniently to New York or Los Angeles. Sometimes, on the weekends, we'll head to Atlanta, where we met as college students. We love the accessibility to other major cities throughout the US We love to travel as a family and explore the culture of new places.

Number one on my list of places we enjoy as a family is Shelby Farms Park. It's a beautiful outdoor space that’s great for walking, running, canoeing–just all types of play areas for kids, even ziplining, and it's not far from where I live. We love taking our new puppy there and spending time there in the fall watching our kids compete during cross country season. During the holidays, Shelby Farms has a stunning light show you can drive, or walk, through–it's such a special place in our backyard.


Gwen Alexander and family at Memphis Escape Room