Please give a brief background on yourself and your career.
I am originally from Maryland and have loved math and science for as long as I can remember. I spent my early childhood solving complex math problems after school with my father and weekends researching the origins of diseases that afflicted my family members. I guess it comes as no surprise that I ended up being an Epidemiologist.
I currently spend my days as a research scientist evaluating the public health landscape of prescription opioid abuse. I graduated from Wellesley with a double major in Biological Sciences and Africana Studies, and began my career investigating emerging infectious diseases. After spending several years as a clinical researcher, I pursued a Masters in Public Health in Epidemiology and began my career as an epidemiologist specializing in disease forecasting and market research. Currently, I am the Director of Reporting Services at Inflexxion, a health care information technology company that combines clinical expertise with research and scientific methodology in order to assess patients, analyze data, and help populations through educational interventions.
How has your career changed since you originally envisioned it at Wellesley? What other careers did you consider as a student?
When I first arrived at Wellesley, I was confident that I would pursue a career in medicine. I completed all the necessary pre-med coursework and was prepared to submit my medical school applications following a year of working. However, after graduation I conducted research at the University of Cape Coast in Ghana as part of the NIH’s Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Program. My summer in West Africa, in particular my time outside of the laboratory in the Cape Coast community, was the first time I seriously considered a career in public health rather than medicine. My subsequent work experience with newly immigrated refugees and individuals seeking asylum in Massachusetts, later reaffirmed my passion for public health and health disparities.
How has Wellesley contributed to your career?
Being around motivated, driven and brilliant women at Wellesley gave me the determination and confidence to succeed not only at Wellesley, but in every academic and professional setting. Wellesley helped me to develop my strong work ethic which directly contributed to my success in graduate school. In addition, the rigorous science coursework at Wellesley prepared me to successfully overcome any academic challenge.
What is a typical work day or work week like for you?
Overall, my job is to lead a team of epidemiologists and research staff in data analytics and report synthesis, and to ensure they have the necessary tools, skills and direction needed to execute their jobs successfully. Some of my day is spent meeting with senior management, key stakeholders and account managers, and meeting with clients on risk management strategies. I also send my time on manuscript development and preparing posters and abstracts for dissemination.
What piece of advice would you offer students looking to get into your area of interest and expertise?
There is a myriad of career opportunities in the science field, and the key is to obtain relevant work experience in your area of interest in order to identify your passion.
What do you wish you had known as a student?
Take advantage of all that Wellesley has to offer, including the alumnae network, the travel opportunities during the summer and wintersession, and the CWS staff and resources.
If you could come back and take one class at Wellesley what would it be?
An Africana Studies seminar – there is always something new to learn about the African diaspora.