Its has been exactly two weeks since my resignation from my PhD program. After a refreshing visit from friends for pre Mardi Gras celebrations (with a couple nights out taking over the dance floor) I have realized that my passion for science is still in full blaze. Although it tugs on my heart strings that I no longer have classes to occupy my time (or a pay check to afford rent) I have been working each day to get back on track and get back to what I love.
Today was an eye opener, the kind that renews your self confidence and faith in your abilities. I was lucky enough to be in contact with an extremely accomplished and successful women at the top of the food chain at the NIH, lets call her Dr. Awesome. Dr. Awesome had heard of my experience with my graduate program through my step father and wished to speak with me immediately. Although slightly intimidated by her status, I was extremely excited to probe her for advice and guidance. What she told me was both shocking and empowering. In her early 20′s she withstood two full years of sexual harassment in a lab (under a well funded MD with high standing). Eventually she quit and filed a law suit against him. Although it was denied and forgotten, the university closed his lab leading to an early retirement. She began sitting in on science classes and a PI took a leap of faith and became her mentor.
To hear another woman’s account of ill treatment and her acts to overcome it was extremely empowering. It has given me a new direction in science. To become as accomplished as possible and prevent such things from happening to other women in science.
I sit at starbucks, finishing up a lecture from the free MIT Genomic Medicine course, feeling the need to speak out for those who cannot. Feeling appreciative that I have access to free education that many take for granted, as there are many who do not have this luxury. I am grateful that my dream is still very real and that a second chance may be just around the corner (and a 1500 mile road trip back to Boston!).