With just two days left before the big Executive Women of New Jersey scholarship dinner, honoring non-traditional female grad students in New Jersey, I'd like to introduce you to another honoree. Her name is Megan Litwhiler, and she could have been a model. Instead, she's chosen to pursue a Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Name: Megan Litwhiler
What school you are attending? The New Jersey Institute of Technology
What degree you are pursuing? Ph.D.
What are you studying? Ecology and evolutionary biology
What has been the biggest challenge you've faced? My own doubts about my abilities.
How have you been able to overcome that? I'm lucky enough to have a very supportive husband. Now that we have a daughter, I don't want her to be someone who doubts herself. I want her to know she can do anything, and I want to set the example.
What has been your biggest career success to date? As a scientist, I haven't succeeded until I'm published, but the fact that I have the opportunity to work towards this goal is a personal success.
What's the best advice you ever received? To not stress the little things.
What advice would you like to give young working women? 1.) Critical thinking is the most important skill for any career. 2.) Knowledge and opportunity are not going to fall into your lap. If you work hard and are proactive about your education and career, anything is possible.
What's one thing about you that most of your co-workers or classmates would be surprised to hear? I once signed a modeling contract, but I never got any work because I was too nervous and awkward in front of the camera and would skip all the open calls.
What did you want to be when you were 8 years old? A paleontologist.
What is your goal for the next five years? I hope to finish my Ph.D. in the next year and a half. Ideally, I'd like to get a job that allows me to continue conducting research in the field of urban ecology while remaining active in science education and outreach.