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Meet Ammy: A scientist who says young women in business can learn a lot from politicians and lobbyists

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Ammy Santiago is among the women receiving a scholarship from Executive Women of New Jersey on Oct. 10, 2013.
Ammy Santiago is among the women receiving a scholarship from Executive Women of New Jersey on Oct. 10, 2013. - (Submitted)

Ammy Santiago is a scientist studying why postmenopausal women are at a greater risk of developing obesity and Type 2 Diabetes.She's also gaga over Disney movies and has some interesting thoughts on how young women in business can look to politicians and lobbyists for help navigating the workplace.

She is also among those women who will be honored with a scholarship from Executive Women of New Jersey this Thursday. So without further ado, allow me to introduce Ammy:

Name: Ammy Marie Santiago

What school you are attending? Rutgers University Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

What degree you are pursuing? Ph.D. in pharmacology and physiology

What are you studying? The effects of estrogen on hypothalamic glucose sensitive neurons and their potential role in whole body energy balance to understand why postmenopausal women are at a greater risk of developing obesity and Type 2 Diabetes.

What has been the biggest challenge you've faced? To date, my biggest challenge has been overcoming my difficult childhood and becoming a first generation college graduate and graduate student in a field/degree program unfamiliar to my immediate family.

How have you been able to overcome that? I have been blessed to come across school counselors, professors, friends and mentors who have encouraged and guided me along the necessary paths to accomplish my goals. Without their hope and knowledge, I am quite certain my life would be very different than it is now.

What has been your biggest career success to date? My greatest accomplishment to date has been receiving a four year federal pre-doctoral grant from the National Institute of Health to support my thesis project. When my mentors and I sat down to design my project, we were very excited about the impact and importance of my work. However, receiving this support from a national funding agency during a time of severe cuts to research funding validated our initial feeling and has further motivated my research efforts.

What's the best advice you ever received? Every person must have a sense of direction and, most importantly, the courage to ask questions and/or for help if unsure how to continue in that direction.

What advice would you like to give young working women? I believe that many young women in the workplace miss valuable career advancement opportunities. Young working women today must not be afraid to eloquently challenge their employers and drive their own professional growth. In essence, young working women must become a cross between a politician and a lobbyist to ensure an equal footing in the workplace.

What's one thing about you that most of your co-workers or classmates would be surprised to hear? I am a child at heart. Some of my favorite movies and books are children's classics. I laugh and cry more in a Disney/Pixar film than any other type film. I love the lessons, tid-bits of knowledge and the cleverness these films incorporate.

What did you want to be when you were 8 years old? At this age, I had a fascination with dinosaurs and all the questions that still remained about their lives. I remember wanting to become an archeologist and spend all day digging up dinosaur bones in exotic far away places.

What is your goal for the next five years? Within the next five years, I hope to graduate with my PhD and continue working on women's health issues focusing on sex difference observed in the effectiveness or side effects of pharmacological drugs currently on the market or in development. I am also interested in bridging the gap between scientists and the public to help rally support behind scientific research and the good it does our society as a whole.

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