Women in Medicine: Cassy Anselme
At Texas A&M, we celebrate the American Medical Association’s Women in Medicine Month this September by highlighting a few of our extraordinary female researchers, scientists, physicians and students who are making meaningful contributions to medicine every day on our campuses and across the globe.
Cassy Anselme, a PhD student at the Texas A&M College of Medicine, is one of these remarkable women. To help mark Women in Medicine Month, she answers some questions about the profession and her life.
Q: Why do you aspire to be a woman in medicine?
A: Growing up in a middle-class family in Haiti, career options are limited. As a kid, you aspire to become a lawyer, physician, engineer or a nurse, but no one talks about doing research. I did not get exposed to research until my first year of my undergraduate education at Saint Leo University in Florida. I had not looked at cells under a microscope until then. I had no idea of the important and pivotal role that researchers played in medicine. Through my many biology courses in undergrad and all the scientific outreach efforts I participated in or lead, I fell in love with the process of creating knowledge from observation, of asking important questions, of advancing the field through training of younger generations and of persevering even when the results are not what you expect.
Q: Who inspires you?
A: I had the opportunity of being advised by extraordinary women scientists and I had mentors who showed me firsthand what it means to be a scientist, a voice in my community and a leader for generations to come. I aspire to be just like them: not only a researcher and a great mentor, but also someone who advocates for the opportunity for kids around the world, especially girls, to be exposed to research.
Q: Why did you choose Texas A&M?
A: I learned of Texas A&M through a very serendipitous meeting with Cynthia J. Meininger, PhD, a professor at the Texas A&M College of Medicine. I was attending a conference in Boston where I was being inducted into the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) honor society. To make a long story short, Dr. Meininger went to school with one of my undergraduate research mentor’s friend. I was introduced to her, she told me all about A&M, I researched the program and I was sold. I was planning to stay in Florida after my graduation and attend one of the universities there. Moving to Texas was never on my radar until I met her.
Q: How are you advocating for women’s health issues?
A: My focus has always been on making research accessible to marginalized communities. I am a strong advocate of education and exposing girls to science at a very young age. This is where I spend my time (through volunteering, tutoring and science outreach work). I hope that these girls will become the next generation of researchers, physicians and public health advocates who will take on the cause of advancing women’s health.
Q: Based on your own experiences, what advice would you give young girls who want to pursue a career in medicine?
A: I would advise them to not be discouraged and to not let others intimidate them. Science can be very competitive, and being a woman in a room full of men can sometimes be intimidating, but I want to remind young girls who aspire to be women researchers that they have earned their spots in the room, that their talent contributed to them being admitted into their program, receiving that internship. Keeping that in mind should give them the courage to voice their opinion and ask questions.
Q: What is your personal motto?
A: Get up and get it done—I am always on the move, doing my work in the lab, volunteering in my community. I believe in staying active and in helping others around me.