ECU Glaxo Women in Science Scholars network with mentors
East Carolina University sophomore Jamie Chamberlin and senior Ashley Lynn are recipients of the 2018 Glaxo Women in Science scholarship. As recipients of the scholarship, they receive more than just a monetary award.
The North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation Women in Science Scholars Program, which awards two scholarships each at 30 colleges and universities in North Carolina, is providing Chamberlin and Lynn the opportunity for one-on-one mentorship from professional women in scientific fields and attendance at the fall meeting and spring conference.
“After a year of waiting, I was beyond thrilled to be given one of the 2018 scholarships from GlaxoSmithKline,” said Chamberlin, who is also an EC Scholar pursuing a bachelor of science degree in biochemistry with a concentration in chemistry, as well as a bachelor of science degree in biology. “The program goes far beyond a financial opportunity; it is an investment in women who will enter careers still heavily dominated by unspoken patriarchal restrictions.”
Chamberlin credits another woman in science who influenced her decision to attend ECU, Dr. Cindy Putnam-Evans, interim chair of biology and Harriot College associate dean for research. The scholarship was established at ECU in 1993. Putnam-Evans has served on the selection committee for the scholarship since 1996 and has chaired the committee for many years.
“It was Dr. Cindy Putnam-Evans who first told me about the GlaxoSmithKline Women in Science Scholars Program, and I immediately knew I wanted to be one of the two girls offered the opportunity,” said Chamberlin, who decided then that ECU was the “right fit.”
Ashley Lynn, who is pursuing her bachelor of science degree in geological sciences, said, “When I learned that I had won the scholarship, I was ecstatic. I was happy to learn that they typically don’t accept seniors, but they liked my application so much, that they awarded it to me. I love being able to represent an amazing foundation.”
This year, Dr. Allison Danell, associate professor of chemistry and adjunct associate professor in pharmacology and toxicology, accompanied Chamberlin and Lynn to the Glaxo Women in Science fall meeting.
“I think our scholarship recipients enjoy this unique opportunity to attend these professional development meetings,” Danell said. “The program connects them with mentors who are willing to share their own stories.”
Chamberlin and Lynn heard from several women in leadership roles and spoke with scientists at GlaxoSmithKline. One of those women included ECU alumna Dr. Renu Jain, who earned her doctoral degree in biochemistry from ECU’s Brody School of Medicine in 1997. Now, Jain serves as the scientific director for medical affairs at GlaxoSmithKline in Durham’s Research Triangle Park.
“When her [Jain] speech was over, I felt motivated to go after my Ph.D.,” Lynn said. “I learned that everyone’s journey is different and that there are multiple ways to achieve your goals.”
“It was beyond wonderful to hear from incredibly successful women who served as speakers for the event,” Chamberlin said. “Each talked about the obstacles they had to overcome to manage a thriving career under a glass ceiling that often feels more like concrete.
“I left the conference inspired and confident that I, like every woman, have the potential to persevere through a major in the hard sciences and pursue higher education beyond my undergraduate degree,” said Chamberlin.
For additional information about the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation and the Women in Science Scholars Program, visit http://www.ncgskfoundation.org/women-in-science.html.
-by Lacey L. Gray, University Communications