Dr Wanida Lewis
North Carolina State University
My undergraduate degree was in Chemistry and I graduated from Saint Augustine. When I was younger, I thought I wanted to be a pediatric neurosurgeon.
How was your experience with STEM classes and teachers in middle and high school?
I took a chemistry class in high school that I really enjoyed.
What are you up to now?
Currently, I work at the Department of State as an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Policy Technology Fellow. I work in the Office of Agriculture Policy and I am a foreign affairs officer. My job is to ensure that science is used to make policy decisions.
What do you do to unwind?
I’m quite the yogi. In fact I practice and teach yoga. I also do African dance in my spare time.
My Grad School Experience
I decided to go to grad school because I wanted to give myself career options instead of choosing a common path that chemists take. I wanted more than “the usual.”
Of course. I suffered bouts of depression and imposter syndrome during my time in graduate school. As a way to combat that, I made frequent trips to a therapist, started a consistent workout routine and found a support system made up of women of color pursuing PhDs.
My biggest supporters are my family, friends and sorority sisters of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
What do you want to say to up and coming Melanin Genius?
My dad used to say this to me and it applies to everything I do, “Short term sacrifice for a long term goal.” This mantra keeps me going even when I can’t see an immediate return on my time.
“As long as you do your best, that’s all that matters.”