Kilan Ashad-Bishop on professional development, networking and being deemed a Miami Wonder Woman of Science

Kilan Ashad-Bishop on professional development, networking and being deemed a Miami Wonder Woman of Science

Kilan Ashad-Bishop
By Laura Elena Lopez Ramos

Kilan Ashad-Bishop

Kilan Ashad-Bishop on professional development, networking and being deemed a Miami Wonder Woman of Science

By Laura Elena Lopez Ramos
Doctoral student Kilan, a panelist in the latest Live@Frost: Hollywood Science & the Wonder Women of Miami, talks about the importance of professional development and networking as a student.

Kilan Ashad-Bishop is not your typical 5th year cancer biology Ph.D. student. Instead of solely depending on classrooms or labs for her development as an emerging professional, the 25-year-old has leveraged on networking to become a community activist and speaker.

Most recently, she was a panelist in the debut event for the new lecture series at the Frost Museum of Science. With the popularity of the new Wonder Woman movie, this first installment of Live@Frost was dedicated to the portrayal of science in Hollywood and the experiences of female scientists in Miami.

The event also featured Associate Dean of Research at RSMAS, Dr. Lisa Beal, and cultural neuroscientist from the College of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Elizabeth Losin. “I couldn’t believe they considered me as a science Wonder Woman to speak beside these accomplished female scientists,” said Kilan.  

Though modest about her status as a Wonder Woman of science, this accomplishment is one of the products of Kilan’s intense focus on advancing her professional development. She has been making a name for herself though networking. Each networking opportunity has led her to a new opportunity, where she has been able to further develop her skills.

Kilan wanted to keep her career options open for when she finished her Ph.D. “I was lacking in leadership experience, community involvement and public speaking, so apart from continuing on to a post-doc, I was not qualified for anything else,” she stated. Kilan reached out to several faculty members to help her diversify her skill set. “They were very kind in connecting me with people and opportunities. I established a support system here at UM that definitely helped me branch out and become something more than the average graduate biomedical student” expressed Kilan.

Her professional development journey as a graduate student started three years ago with the revival of the Black Graduate Student Association (BGSA). “When I began working with the BGSA, we did a lot of events with the Black law and medical students,” she recalls. “I noticed that compared to them, I was much less involved in extracurricular activities and in the community”.

To develop her leadership skills, Kilan started with the BGSA. She began in 2014 as Treasurer and then worked her way up to Vice President and ultimately to President in 2016. She also applied for a leadership program called The New Leaders Council, where she met the Curator of Astronomy and Exhibition Developer for the Frost Museum, Dr. Jorge Perez-Gallego, who later invited her to be a panelist on Live@Frost. “New Leaders Council was an amazing opportunity because it opened the door to experiences outside academia. It is mostly targeted to people interested in politics, so it taught me translatable skills such as strategic management, community building, and communication,” described Kilan. 

In terms of community involvement, last year she was recommended for a two-year appointment as a member of the City of Miami Sea Level Rise Committee, which has sparked her interest in a career related to health and science policy.

Kilan considers that both experiences, The New Leaders Council and the Miami Sea Level Rise Committee, have given her the opportunity to practice and master the skill of public speaking. She now has at least one speaking engagement a month.  

“Even if I decided to continue into academic research, these skills are still valuable. Leadership experience would really help me run a lab and manage a team. Communication skills would definitely enable me to explain my research in an intelligible way. I am now a well-rounded professional and I feel infinitely more confident in the skills I have developed than what I felt in my first years in my graduate program,” closed Kilan.

As a remarkable young woman who has taken a proactive approach to her development, Kilan shares some recommendations with her fellow graduate colleagues:

  1. Don’t branch out until you are ready; your priority is your education. Don’t feel pressured to take on extracurricular work until you can dedicate sufficient time to all of your responsibilities.
  2. Miami is a great city to network. Get out and meet people. There are a lot of networks for young people. The New Leaders Council is more politically focused, but there is also the Young Professionals Network. Bridges Unite is also a great one, dedicated only to professional women.
  3. Don’t underestimate yourself. Take pride in the work you do and the education you have so far. Recognize your value and don’t close yourself off from opportunities.

 

Resources:

http://miami.newleaderscouncil.org/

http://www.newleaderscouncil.org/new_leaders_council_miami accepting applications for 2018

http://www.bridgesunite.com/

http://ypnmiami.com/