I would tell my younger self to stress less about small decisions. Your training will not be undone by asking the “wrong” question or taking the “wrong” class.

 

Who is Kelcee Everette?

I am a first-year graduate student at Harvard Medical School in the Biomedical and Biological Sciences Ph.D. program. While earning a degree in biomedical engineering from Harvard College, I realized my love for disease-based research. My research interests are in developing therapeutics for diseases that disproportionately affect minority communities. To that end, I’ve done research in Type II diabetes, metastatic breast cancer, sickle cell, Zika and Dengue, and vaccine development across America and in southern Brazil. Beyond science, I enjoy visiting my family in Texas, studying Portuguese, playwriting, and blogging on @becomingdrkels on Instagram to inspire other Black women to pursue PhDs in STEM fields.

 

 

 

 

Special Awards

Gates Millennium Scholar,

Blacks at Microsoft Scholar

 

 

How did you choose to pursue this field?

My first love in science was robotics and biomedical engineering. As I got older, my interests in science became more in line with my passion for social justice. As such, I began biomedical research focusing on diseases like Type II Diabetes and triple negative breast cancer that disproportionately affect minority communities.

 

 

 

Who was your inspiration or role model that guided you to this field?

When I was very young, my science hero was Ben Carson because his life story had a lot of similarities to mine. As I got older, I realized that his politics were not in line with my own and that he was not the role model I needed. My mentor Michael DeRan at the Broad Institute, the place I conducted research at during my undergraduate years, has been the biggest support for me in my field so far.

 

 

Did you always have the desire to work in this field? If not, what was your intended field? Why did you change careers?

My intended field was biomedical engineering. I still love engineering, and I think studying BME has offered me a leg up in quantitative analysis and computer science as applied to biomedical research.

 

What do you love most about your educational journey?

I’ve only taken 3 graduate level courses thus far. My favorite has been genetics because it’s very interesting. Something as small as a yeast cell can tell us a lot about human genetics. I find that amazing!

 

 

What has been the most rewarding aspect of your journey?

The most rewarding aspect of this journey has been feeling challenged academically in classes and performing well because it makes me feel as if all the hard work I did in undergrad was worth it!

 

 

 

What things would you want to see changed about your current field of study?

I don’t think I would change anything. Everything I’ve done so far has gotten me to a place that I am proud of. I’ve really tried to study things I truly enjoy, so I think that helps my satisfaction as well.

 

 

 

What are the most difficult things about working in your field?

The most disappointing part is seeing so few Black women in the classrooms and labs around me.

 

 

What are your future goals related to your career?

I’m not quite sure what I will do yet, but I think it will be along the therapeutic pipeline.

 

 

 

What tips would you offer to anyone thinking about entering into your profession/field of study?

My biggest tip would be that this field is hard, and even harder for Black women and women of color. Find a support system that values you and validates you when you might be feeling down!

 

 

 

How have you combated the stigma of being a “woman of color” in STEM?

I think the most important thing for me has been to not internalize other people’s projections of my inadequacy because they think a Black woman inherently isn’t as qualified as her white and/or male peers.

 

 

 

 

What advice would you give your younger self about your career journey as a “woman of color” working in a predominantly white, male-dominated field?

I would tell my younger self to stress less about small decisions. Your training will not be undone by asking the “wrong” question or taking the “wrong” class.

 

 

 

Can you provide some words of wisdom to young ladies thinking about entering a STEM field as a career choice?

You can be a scientist and whatever else you want to be. Just because you work in a lab doesn’t mean you can’t still be a writer, or a photographer, or a historian, or a blogger, or whatever else in the world you may want to be. You are more than capable of excelling at any path.

 

 

What is your favorite quote?

The quote from Akeelah and the Bee, adapted from Marianne Williamson:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” I want to inspire other young Black girls by being the best I can be! If I can fulfill my own potential, who can tell them that they can’t do the same? There’s often a lot of competition in science, and I believe that can be toxic. Science shouldn’t be about gate-keeping, but rather about making the field more accessible to people from many backgrounds.

 

How has your family been a great influence or support system?

I am very blessed to have a mother that is ever encouraging and that sees things in me I often do not see in myself. I would be nothing without her!

 

What are some interesting facts about yourself that you would like to share?

I’m a playwright and I love theater!

 

We hope you enjoyed learning about our latest “STEMsation”, please comment about how her experiences have inspired you, how your experiences can inspire others and nominate our next “STEMsation to spotlight their amazing accomplishments.

 

 

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