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Alumni in STEM Fields Share Challenges and Rewards of Their Professions
Lois Heckler ’94 Lander

February 26, 2018

A panel of female alumni who majored and work in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields shared valuable advice with students about the challenges of being a woman in the sciences at this year's Break Through student-alumni networking conference.

They advised students about how to assert themselves and their credibility in male-dominated spaces, career paths after Susquehanna, and the value of doing scientific research while still an undergraduate student.

Students heard from Courtney Conrad '13, Pharm.D., a pharmacist for Walmart, Kellie Kremser '06 Karschner, a registered nurse in the Geisinger Health System, and Lois Heckler '94 Lander, a genetic counselor and information specialist at the National Institutes of Health.

Lander shared her experiences in the fairly new field of genetic counseling, including the many open jobs that are available compared to the lower number of people pursuing a career in the discipline. She also told students that volunteering can be helpful experience in finding one's passions, with which the other panelists agreed.

A panel of physicians discussed their career steps after Susquehanna, and their experiences getting into and attending medical school. They shared important tips about applying to medical school and how to market themselves, and advised students how to identify their strengths when applying and interviewing for positions, and how to keep personal statements interesting.

"Coming from a small liberal arts school is an advantage," said Matthew Gilbert '98, D.O., associate professor of medicine at the University of Vermont's School of Medicine. He said that doing research with Susquehanna faculty and participating in the Global Opportunities program help to differentiate SU grads from candidates who earned their undergraduate degree from larger schools. Oftentimes, they do not have the same experiences to bolster their applications and interviews.

Other STEM panels at Break Through included Careers in Technology, Research Careers-Biomedical Research, Careers in Business for Science Majors, Careers in Ecology and Environmental Science, and Being a Member of an Underrepresented Group in STEM Careers.