An exceptional young lady named Carcia Carson has set an outstanding record at Vanderbilt University, United States after emerging as first-ever black person to earn a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the institution.
“I am honored to become the first to accomplish this feat. I look forward to diversifying my industry and continuing the discussion of representation in high-level research environments,” Carcia said.
She obtained her master’s degree in physics from Fisk University through the Fisk-Vanderbilt Master’s-to-PhD Bridge Program.
Carcia said she got exposed more to medical physics while she was at Fisk University. She stated that now that she has made history at Vanderbilt university, she would be focusing her professional research on developing translational research in cancer vaccines and personalized immunotherapy.
Carcia mentioned that she was inspired to center on translational research after seeing her grandmother diagnosed with cancer and selected to undergo an immunotherapy clinical trial.
“Translational research is more likely to impact the treatment of cancer patients directly. That’s what I want to do. I want to have a direct hand in the treatment of cancer patients…I want to directly impact cancer patients with the hopes to improve the lives of people living with cancer,” she said.
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She said she did not expect to achieve the feat being a black in a white dominated country but she made it thanks to her hard work and the support she received mostly from Jackson State University management who provided her with the ability to network productively with key stakeholders in her field.
“I felt small, and imposter syndrome started getting bigger. I felt like I didn’t deserve to be here. Being the first African American female to get this Ph.D., I didn’t see anybody that looked like me,” Carcia said.
”So I started to find mentors in other departments that were Black women. I joined organizations that were for Black graduate students, and that truly helped me,” she added.
Carcia expressed her gratitude to her faculty management for giving her the opportunity to showcase herself.
“I was not the golden candidate that all faculty seek to advise, but the leader at Vanderbilt took a chance on me. Faculty needs to take a chance on all students,” she said.
”Just because they didn’t come from a prestigious undergraduate institution or didn’t have high-level research doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of being successful in your lab or program,” she added.
Carcia said she plans to advance her medical research and hopes to become a director of oncology someday.