From Emerging Leaders in STEM mentee to Johns Hopkins Medicine Lab Technician, Madison Pleas is leading the way as an example to young women passionate about STEM. When a junior at Morgan State University, Pleas joined Learning Undefeated’s inaugural 2021 Emerging Leaders in Biotechnology cohort as a mentor to advance her laboratory skills and boost her resume. She instantly felt a connection to the high school students she was helping coach, sparking her passion for helping people grow and gain new STEM skills.
“Being in a collaborative environment like Emerging Leaders prepared me to work in the lab I’m in today.” Fast forward two years and several internships later, Pleas is now a lab technician at the Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center. She helps train students who come through their internship program and credits the time she spent as a mentor as giving her the drive to educate others.
When reflecting on her time in the program, Pleas remembers how inspiring it was to have guest speakers talk openly with participants about their career paths and obstacles. “It was just really cool to have women who look like you in one space, it truly taught me the importance of networking,” she said.
Pleas has continued to build her network of like-minded female STEM professionals and applies those networking skills to her current job. “My official title is a lab technician, but I feel like I am ‘Ms. Make It Happen’ in this job.” Today, she is at the forefront of groundbreaking medical research, using DNA methylation to detect different types of cancer and help develop diagnostic methods for detecting cervical, breast, and prostate cancer.
“It’s an extremely fulfilling job, being able to see people you are directly impacting,” she said. “I learn something new every single day, I train people, I teach. It’s like a family and it never feels like work.” Her work doesn’t stop here. Pleas has her eyes set on medical school and one day becoming a physician or physician scientist. “I want to make a global impact. That’s what I want to do and who I want to be,” she said.
To learn more and get an inside peek into Learning Undefeated’s Emerging Leaders in STEM course, see Madison and other students in action at: https://www.learningundefeated.org/emerging-leaders-in-biotechnology/