Current position: Strategic Proposal Writer
Location: Indianapolis (remote)
Degree(s): B.A. English, North Carolina State University, 2009; MLS, North Carolina Central University, 2013; MPH, Indiana University, 2019
Why did you choose your major/program?
I spent several years specializing as a health sciences librarian, where I primarily served the IU School of Nursing. I wanted something to legitimize the healthcare aspects of my work, and public health seemed like a good fit. I tried the graduate certificate program first, just to make sure I liked it and that I felt up to the task of going to school and working full time. Once I finished the certificate, I really enjoyed what I learned and decided to continue with the social and behavioral sciences specialization.
Do you have any research interests?
My research interests are varied, given that I wear multiple hats. As a librarian, I’ve done research related to open access to health literature, and as a public health professional, I’ve done research on harm reduction and the social determinants of health.
Briefly describe your career path.
I graduated with my library science degree in 2013, and was almost immediately offered a position as a library fellow at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. This was a great springboard to my next position as a health sciences librarian at IUPUI University Library. I started a new position with a clinical research organization, Parexel, in February 2022 as a strategic proposal writer. My job involves polishing the proposals that are used to help my company successfully bid to run clinical trials for large pharmaceutical companies.
Describe what an average day for you might be like.
It mostly involves a lot of project management, creativity, and a good eye for detail and layout. I create timelines, assign projects, and I send a lot of emails. Each day is different, but my favorite part is when we win a bid and get to run a clinical trial that makes a difference to patients around the world.
What advice would you give your college self about pursuing your current career path or industry?
You should have stuck with a science degree! No, seriously, my real advice would be to spend more time exploring and learning about potential avenues for careers. I had no idea this is where I would land, mostly because I didn’t even know this role existed. That being said, it’s a great fit for my skill-set and I get to use many different pieces that I learned during each of my degrees.
What is a lesson learned at FSPH that you have been able to apply to your career?
In one of Dr. Turman’s classes, we had an assignment to write a mock grant proposal. This turned out to be an invaluable assignment for me for a few reasons. I wrote and won a large grant during my time at University Library, and I now write a slightly different kind of proposal every day for my new job at Parexel. It taught me the importance of paying attention to detailed instructions, being clear and concise, and being constructively creative.
What is the most significant thing that’s happened to you since graduating?
I had the honor and privilege of serving on a Rapid Response Team for COVID-19 in collaboration with state department of health. In this team, which included several other Indiana University librarians, we worked incredibly hard to provide evidence-based information about COVID-19 to the State of Indiana. We did this primarily through the creation of annotated bibliographies to facilitate rapid expert responses to questions from state leadership.
We also helped create daily digests of emerging literature including reviews on patient care, law and ethics, communication, forecasting and surveillance, schools, and mitigation. I served on this team from April 2020-July 2020, but my colleagues continued their great work well into 2021. I was very proud of our work, as it increased visibility for librarians at the state level, and recognition for our contributions led to the receipt of an Award for Excellence in Public Health from Dr. Kristina Box, the State Health Commissioner for Indiana.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? What’s next for you?
I hope to stay in the clinical research organization world for a while. Making such a giant career change is incredibly scary, but also very exciting. I might like to eventually find my way into patient advocacy, but for now I am very happy to learn the ropes in proposals. I’m excited to be at a company that cares very much about the people who choose to enroll in a clinical trial, and I look forward to learning more about the process.
What is your favorite IUPUI/FSPH memory?
Competing in the Regatta! We didn’t win (not by a long shot), but I felt like a winner because we didn’t flip the canoe.