Legairre Radden II, Research Scientist III

The most important thing that I did to get me to where I am now was getting involved. I started doing independent research in a lab in my 1st few weeks of my freshman year. It got me great exposure and hands on experience. I went to conferences and meetings and presented posters or did talks and just listened to other people present data and soaked it all in. Getting your feet wet and hands dirty was the best thing I could do and that has held true for each stage of my life. Nothing in life will ever beat experience and getting involved and being open to learning is the best way to do it.

With regards to what drove me to pursue STEM, oddly enough it was being a big nerd and comic book/anime fan. I wanted to be a cartoonist most of my young life. My parents sat me down sophomore year of HS and had a very real talk about careers and adulthood. I spent awhile just lost and not sure what I wanted to do. I had a passion and curiosity since I was young and one of the 1st pictures my parents have of me is me looking through a microscope. I had a great uncle who was a PhD in oncology at Howard University and we always had these amazing talks that would set a fire in me. I was in AP science classes and by the end of junior year everything kinda just clicked. I was looking a STEM program for college, and it all felt really weird. I wasn’t great at math, and I always had to put in extra work, or get a tutor but talking about STEM would always bring out a side of me that had so much passion that as time went on it seemed like it pulled me in.

If I was to give advice to younger version of myself or any young person perusing a career in STEM, I would offer a few things. The 1st and most important is to believe in yourself. There are a lot of people who will tell you that you can’t do it (including yourself), don’t listen to the voices. 2nd is that there will be hard days so go easy and be kind to yourself; don’t forget the good great days. Charles Darwin once wrote in his journal “I am very poorly today and very stupid and hate everybody and everything”. It’s a tough field but self-motivation is key!

I overcame the hardest challenges by having a great support system. I don’t know a single scientist that has made it to where they are without the tribe they have. Some of us are in the same tribe but it takes a village. There were days I was going to leave STEM all together and my community and lab family got me through. In BioPath I am looking and hoping to create that tribe for the next generation.

My guiding principle is something my dad has said to me and my brothers our entire lives. All 3 of us had to overcome a lot in regard to educational hurdles and my dad would tell us “Never give up, never surrender, always find a way”. This mantra has really been my guiding light in everything to just push hard and use all the wits and resources I have to problem solve. Its in life and in my career. In short it taught me that though I’m not a gifted savant no one will out work me in pursuits of my goals and ambitions.

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