Morgan Batiste-Simms, a biochemistry major from Houston, Texas, transferred to St. Kate’s from Normandale Community College as a sophomore. She is currently president of the Chemistry Club and plans to apply to MD/PhD programs as she continues her path in science. Her goal is to earn a PhD in biochemistry and specialize in a surgical field.
Her goal — along with the goals of the 2,000-plus STEM students on campus — is why St. Kate’s is embracing an effort to develop more BIPOC women leaders in science. Titled “Expanding HERizons,” the goal is tied to the campaign priority of upgrading Mendel’s spaces and facilities. Batiste-Simms articulated the visible-yet-invisible obstacles she has faced already on her path at a Town Hall event that St. Kate’s hosted last fall: “ ... being in high school, in a co-ed class. I was extremely intimidated because I was one of the only girls in my chemistry class or in my physics class. In the back of my mind was always the fact that I'm female. Being at St. Kate’s, everyone is female ... so when I’m in lab, I'm focused on being a good scientist, not a good female scientist. It’s such a liberating feeling.”
Considering her own career prospects, Batiste-Simms would choose a path that would help minimize the obstacles that women of color in STEM fields face by working in the field of academic medicine. “While I would still be a practicing physician, being in academic medicine means I would be teaching, and thus influencing, students. Being in academic medicine means purposefully taking on a leadership/influential role,” she said. “It is my hope to influence colleagues and future students about the importance and awareness of social justice. It permeates all areas of life, especially healthcare. It is important to teach relatability, patience, and understanding in what tend to be the most vulnerable instances in people's lives.”
In regard to improving the University’s science spaces, Batiste-Simms commented, “My hope for Mendel is that some of our instrumentation around the building, particularly in labs, is updated. In order to truly excel as scientists and as women of science, we need more time to focus on projects and practicing the process of being a scientist, rather than trying to work around some of the obstacles that come with a more dated science building.”
“I think the University has done a wonderful job balancing the importance of science, religion, and cultural diversity,” she said. “It is so common to see one of the three dominate the others. The way the university unites all three is both refreshing and inspiring. This balance is what I hope to emulate as I transition into my own career.”