Recently at the Atlanta residency, we met Dania Thomas, a passionate PhD in Public Health – Epidemiology student and a busy single mother of children ages 1 (son) and 5 (daughter). She has an Associate’s Degree in Chemistry and Sociology and a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology. She is currently 1.5 years into her doctoral program.
When asked about her current career status, Dania was excited to report she just landed a dream fellowship at the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta! She persisted through a long process in which she submitted at least 50 applications for positions with the CDC over the span of 3 years. So she was so pleased when she was contacted for a phone interview with two CDC scientists for a position to do microbiology testing for sexually transmitted diseases. One was the head scientist for the position and the other was a colleague (another head scientist) helping to choose the best candidate.
The lead scientist asked her questions about her qualifications and experience for the position. Before ending the interview, out of curiosity, the second interviewer asked about Dania’s doctoral program at Walden and her main research interests. Dania gave an overview of Walden and how it offers a global perspective. In addition, she briefly shared her passion for public health and how conducting HIV/AIDS research will allow her to understand and address different health disparities in certain populations. She is originally from Jamaica where AIDS is a huge public health problem and as a result, she developed a keen interest in the issue.
The second interviewer stated he was impressed with her knowledge and passion for public health and the statistics she shared. Dania attributes such knowledge and education to the many scholarly papers and books she has written and read over the 1.5 years since starting the program at Walden University.
Unfortunately, Dania received an email that she was not selected for the STD microbiology testing position. Following the rejection, the head scientist stressed how impressed they were with the way Dania answered the public health questions and the passion she portrayed while interviewing. A month later, the head scientist who initially interviewed Dania, contacted her to offer her a fellowship requiring epidemiology data analysis for STDs. Dania stated along with getting the offer, another exciting part of the hiring process was filling out many forms given during the hiring process, and noticing the colleague (the second head scientist) who was just helping the head scientist, is the one who personally requested her to work alongside them. Dania is excited to start her new fellowship this month and is very grateful for the opportunity!
Dania’s advice: “Always put your best foot forward regardless of the situation and NEVER EVER give up – what is for you is for you!”
Thanks to Dania for sharing her story with us and we wish her the best of luck in her new role with the CDC!
Written by Lisa Cook, Senior Director of Career Services