Words of wisdom for young ladies thinking about entering a STEM field as a career choice is to never give up, and understand you are capable of succeeding!

Who is Marlayna?

I am native of Birmingham, AL, I began my professional pursuits in science, as a high school student, by way of infectious disease research at Emory University and University of Tennessee Knoxville; followed by a strong academic career at Tuskegee University and Arizona State University where I earned a BS in Biology and MS in Clinical Research Management, respectively. I have a strong history in the clinical laboratory field as a Quality Control Analyst and now, Clinical Site Manager for PAREXEL International.

My primary responsibilities for managing clinical trials include protocol adherence, investigational product accountability, and most importantly, the safety of research participants. This work is of particular importance because it gives me the opportunity to provide guidance and input within the context of centering women and minorities during the developmental stages of the protocol and clinical trial design.

During my downtime, I volunteer for STEM and education-focused organizations within the community. I lead a “Science Saturdays”. I offer Science Saturdays as a fun introduction to science experiments that are carefully planned and executed in everyday settings. I am a member of the Philanthropic Educational Organization and Black Ladies in Public Health. I serve as Recording Secretary and Ambassador respectively in the DFW area.


Educational Background

BS in Biology and Master’s in Clinical Research Management


Special Awards

Class of 2019 NSBE Hidden Figures of Dallas: Top STEM Influencer


How did you choose to pursue this field?

I choose to pursue the field of clinical research after my undergraduate studies at Tuskegee University. I had every intention of applying to medical school but during my senior year, I had two wonderful professors who introduced me to research. I have always been a scientist at heart and wanting to help people. Although I believed I could only do this as a physician I quickly learned I could do more and join the wonderful world of research.


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

My inspiration was my mother. She has been a nurse for over 40 years and watching her dedication in her field was inspiring. I knew very young I wanted to make her proud and do something that could impact a world of people.

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

I have always had a desire to work in a field that was related to helping people and Science. I thought I would be a physician but research really captured my heart.


What do you love most about your job or career?


What I love most is the travel aspect of my job. I have the ability to travel to different cities, meet new people and try new things.



What has been the most rewarding aspect of your job or career?

The most rewarding aspect of my job/career is when I have successfully completed a clinical trial and the drug gets FDA approval.


What things would you change about your job?

Nothing! I would not change a thing. I believe our challenges help us grow.

What are the most difficult things or disappointing aspect of your job?

Honestly, I love what I do! If I had to choose the most difficult or disappointing aspect of my job is not having the time to help everyone.


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

I have combated the stigma of being a woman of color in STEM by being unapologetically me. I am confident in my knowledge of clinical research and my ability to perform my duties efficiently.


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?

The advice I would give to my younger self about my career journey as a woman of color in a predominately white, male-dominated field would be never stop believing!


What tips would you offer for anyone thinking about entering into your profession?

The tips I would offer would be to gain as much knowledge as you can, be it taking courses or interning at a clinical research company.


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

Words of wisdom for young ladies thinking about entering a STEM field as a career choice is to never give up, and understand you are capable of succeeding!


What is your favorite quote?

I have a few favorite quotes but my all-time favorite would be:


The gap between your present reality can only be filled through a commitment to maximize your potential.”


I apply this quote to my everyday life by pushing through the challenges and knowing I can achieve whatever I put my mind to!


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

I am lucky to have a large extended family that is willing to help, encourage and support any goals I may have! I would not be where I am today if it was not for family. My immediate support system consists of my mother and sister. We have a very close bond! This allows for a safe space to be transparent and vulnerable, which helps in pursuing opportunities that may be outside of my comfort zone.


How do you juggle motherhood and your career?

Fortunately, I am an aunt to many and not a mother…yet! Although I am not a mother I understand the role of being a mother and balancing a career. In both motherhood and career, there are sacrifices and one must do what is best for them.


What are your future goals related to your career?

My future goals are to continue to look for ways to develop in my career, which includes furthering my education and taking opportunities to advance my skills. My ultimate goal is to become Director of Clinical Operations at a small pharmaceutical company or clinical research organization.



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

Interesting facts about me I like all things JFK and crime show or documentaries.



Contact Marlayna for any further questions:

Email: mfitts13@gmail.com



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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