Kristina, who is now in the sixth year of her Ph.D. in Education Economics at UNC Chapel Hill, began first pursuing her interests in high school. Kristina worked in policy for three years in Jamaica and prior to that received her undergraduate and master’s degrees in the U.K. She is currently keeping her fingers crossed and hoping that after graduation, her impressive background will allow her to land a job at a policy research institute. This would allow her to have the best of both worlds as there would be a balance between research and academia.
Kristina attributes a lot of her success to her advisors, who have provided her with valuable feedback and have assisted in finding her opportunities such as grants and career placements.
In the RTP, Kristina enjoys biking, local trails, and the Neuse River Trail. She doesn’t have a favorite city, but enjoys them equally for the different activities they offer. She likes Raleigh for its museums, Durham for its restaurants and theater (DPAC), and Chapel Hill for its quaint atmosphere.
Through her scholarship, Kristina has had the opportunity to mentor two undergraduate students in Econ (sort of a big sister program) and was able to participate in Women in Economics, a panel speaking to undergraduate students interested in economics. Her biggest piece of advice for women pursuing STEM is to support each other.
Thank you, Kristina!
Meet Bailey Jones!
STEM is Not as Narrow as You Think
Bailey is from the Triangle, went to school at UNC, and is now working at IBM. Being a Triangle native and longtime resident, Bailey has close ties to all three Triangle cities.
Bailey is a Staff Software Engineer for IBM and began pursuing STEM by taking computer science classes in undergrad. This interest eventually led her to obtain a master’s in Information Science from UNC. Bailey commends the UNC Faculty for encouraging and helping her develop her technical skills, since computer science was not something she was initially considering. However, she quickly found the topics that led her to her towards a master’s degree became more interesting to explore as her programming knowledge increased.
Bailey hopes to elevate women in STEM by being involved with Girls who Code and dispelling rumors that you have to have an innate talent for math and video games to excel in a STEM Career. This assumption initially discouraged her as she didn’t feel that she fit the computer science mold.
However, Bailey is living proof that there is no mold, and she encourages women to think broadly about what STEM can be and to remember that different experiences can be a valuable advantage. (For instance, Bailey attributes her public speaking abilities to her experience in theatre.) Lastly, Bailey wants women to know that that practice and determination are more important than born talent.
Amy currently works on the Office of CIO team at Blue Cross NC as Sr Business Operations Advisor. She oversees talent and training strategy, external brand efforts, community engagement, culture and change management for IT, and assists with reporting and portfolio management.
A North Carolina native, Amy was born in Pinehurst and grew up in central NC near the Unwharries. Her hometown is Star, which is a former textile town that is undergoing overdue revitalization. She studied business and marketing at NC State University, which is how she came to the RTP area. That is also where she met her husband. They loved the area and decided to stay.
Amy’s team is currently involved in some very complex and demanding initiatives, which is both challenging and exciting. Her labor of love is launching a Technology Network Of Women (Tech NOW) at Blue Cross NC, which organizes networking events, technical and transferable skills development opportunities, and community outreach efforts including a soon-to-launch podcast series highlighting women who lead. When Amy gets excited about something, that passion can move quickly. Just a few short weeks after the initial idea for Tech NOW was sparked, a rock-star Advisory Board and Executive Sponsor were secured, and the charter, mission/vision, and network structure were in place.
For women looking to pursue STEM careers, Amy offers three pieces of advice that have served her well in her career:
Be bold in whatever you do. Believe in yourself and others will follow suit.
Find your passion and use it to fuel your work. Your work will be better for it, and you will feel much more fulfilled.
Find your tribe. These are the people who will believe in you on the days you forget how amazing you are, who will greenhouse your ideas to make them better, and help you reach your unimaginable potential and goals for your career and life.
Thank you, Amy!
Meet Ashley Thompson!
Trust the Process
Ashley was born in Elkins Park, PA and raised in Bamberg, SC. She graduated from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University as a Biology major. After graduation, she was granted the opportunity to work as a Formulation Chemist for HatchBeauty Labs. In undergrad Ashley struggled a lot in Chemistry and did not want to see it again after graduation, but becoming a formulation chemist helped her over come her fear.
A piece of advice that sticks with Ashley is “Be patient and trust the process.” Although she is no longer at HatchBeauty Labs, her experience built her character and taught her to advocate for herself. On her first day on the job, she thought she would be making lotions and creams. Initially, she helped the team prepare packages and then graduated to analytical testing batch samples she receive from production. After doing this for a year, she was eventually able to do what she dreamed of -- formulate products.
In 5 years, Ashley sees herself encouraging little girls to pursue their dreams with no fear and creating and formulating cosmetic products of her own. Ashley we look forward to seeing your products on our nearest shelves one day!