This week’s #WCWinSTEM is Dr. Shanta Whitaker, a health policy consultant!
As compiled by Léolène Carrington, Ph.D.
We’re so excited to feature Dr. Shanta Whitaker as this week’s #WCWinSTEM! Dr. Whitaker is a “Public Health Champion” and is excited to share her story with us. The responses have been edited for content and brevity.
How would you describe yourself in 1 tweet?
“I am the dream and the hope of the slave,” by Maya Angelou.
Where did/do you go to school?
- B.S. in biology, Virginia Union University
- M.Phil. in microbiology, Yale University
- M.P.H. in health policy, health disparities and chronic disease, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
- Ph.D. in microbiology, Yale University
What do you do right now?
Currently, I am a consultant working on the Affordable Care Act. Specifically, I focus on the Medicare Shared Savings Program Accountable Care Organizations.
What made you choose your STEM discipline in the first place?
I chose STEM because I was really curious about how microorganisms could cause such devastating diseases. I ultimately transitioned from doing STEM 24/7 because I felt I was being led to look at health from the population level.
“Since I left the traditional STEM arena, I have used my STEM and public health training to work towards improving chronic disease outcomes for vulnerable populations.”
What’s one piece of advice you wish you had when you started your STEM journey?
One piece of advice I wish I would have had was that you will fail in your experiments many times, but it isn’t a reflection of you and your capabilities. You just have to persist and things will work out.
Do you have a woman of color in STEM shero? Who and why?
I really don’t have a singular woman of color in STEM shero, but I will say that I am so proud of all of the black women STEM Ph.D. Yalies that came after me for how they are still in the trenches, working to improve the STEM experience for those coming up the pipeline. Dr. Jedidah Isler is one of them 😉 I remember all that she had to deal with as a graduate student at Yale, but yet she persisted. I am so proud of her and all that she has accomplished!
What else are you passionate about?
I am very passionate about mentoring young people and encouraging them to live at their fullest potential. I am passionate about my walk with Christ and food..lol. I love to hike, brunch and cycle.
Why do you think it’s important to highlight women of color in STEM?
I think it is important to highlight women of color in STEM because those coming up the pipeline need mentors.
“It makes it so much easier to pursue a field if you see others like you already succeeding. Young women of color in STEM need us!”
Thank you for the work you do, Dr. Whitaker! We’re honored to have you in our #VanguardSTEM squad!
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