5 Things I Wish I Knew as a STEM student

By Spencer Overstreet ‘16

Spencer Overstreet 

Centre College Class of 2016 

 Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Major   

Lancaster, Kentucky

Spencer Overstreet is in pharmacy school pursuing a Doctorate of Pharmacy degree at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. Spencer’s hometown is Lancaster, Kentucky just 10 minutes away from Centre College. Her favorite experience at Centre was leading the Diversity Student Union and all of the many opportunities that brought her in diversity training. Currently, Spencer is pursuing a Doctorate of Pharmacy degree. Spencer will graduate Belmont University in May of 2022.   

What 5 things do you wish you knew/did as a Black STEM Major?    

  1. I wish that I would have taken the time to learn how to study to retain information best for long-term memory. Graduate school is very fast-paced and if you don’t know how to study you are a step behind. You not only have to learn a lot of information, but you also have to retain it for your future career (you can’t learn and dump).  
  1. I definitely recommend taking full advantage of the opportunity to work with the LSAMP research program. I wish that I would have done this sooner, perhaps my freshman year, to get involved with the research there. I didn’t end up doing this until my sophomore year and I wish I would have continued to participate in research while at Centre. There are research opportunities in pharmacy school as well as in pharmaceutical companies.  
  1. I highly recommend participating in an internship if you are interested in pharmacy. There aren’t as many prep programs for pharmacy as some of the other healthcare fields so this will help you get a better idea of what to expect in pharmacy. There is a lot more options in the pharmacy profession than only community pharmacy. Be sure to shadow other healthcare professionals as well just to see if something else in healthcare appeals to you more.  
  1. Have confidence in yourself! Know that there are things that you may not understand on your own but go and get the help you need. I was very shy about asking for help when I was at Centre, but it is imperative that you do this. Even if you go to the professor’s office to try to explain what you know they can help you maneuver through the material. This is definitely something I wish I would have done more often. Also, don’t be afraid to fail. Everyone has failed before and sometimes you learn more from failing than succeeding. Make sure you get back up if you do fail and don’t lose confidence in yourself. You’re still smart I promise you wouldn’t be at Centre if you weren’t.  
  1. You need to find a good mentor. Someone you can trust and who cheers for you. It does help if they are in STEM because they know the most about the areas you want to pursue. Being Black, it is difficult in STEM because a lot of people don’t look like you but there are still good mentors that are willing to help you at Centre. Remember you can have more than one mentor as well. This new program will definitely help with this since it will build a network of Black people who once stood in the same shoes as you are standing in now and can relate to you as a Black person.  

Any last words?  

Modern western science would not be where it is today without our ancestors and we deserve to be in this field progressing it forward. Always remember that!  

Written by Spencer Overstreet ‘16 

Edited by Princess Allotey ’21 & Josh West ‘22 

11/17/20

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