Kilan Ashad-Bishop, Black History Month Black History Month
Breaking barriers

Kilan Ashad-Bishop, a recent UM Miller School of Medicine graduate, discusses the importance of academic and social support networks.

by Ashley A. Williams
UM News

Kilan Ashad-Bishop recently graduated with her doctorate degree in biology from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Today, she is working in Washington, D.C., as she was awarded the prestigious Christine Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Fellowship in the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.  

According to the National Girls Collaborative Project, women of color account for 11 percent of the working age population, and research from the National Science Foundation shows that only 4.1 percent of doctorate degrees in science and engineering are awarded to minority women. Growing up, Ashad-Bishop was a very inquisitive child with a natural inclination to math and science.  

“My family converged around my gifts and my interests in every way that they could,” said Ashad-Bishop, who served as a member of the Miller School's inaugural Dean’s Council on Diversity and Inclusion. “In high school, my biology teacher, a very engaging young woman of color, popped a hydrogen-filled balloon in class, which resulted in fire. In that moment, I don't remember knowing the details of the experiment, but I do remember deciding to choose biology as my college major.” 

While pursuing her doctorate degree at UM, Ashad-Bishop said she was often the only woman of color in her classroom or laboratory. Her advice to women who aren’t necessarily seeing their identities reflected is ”don’t do it alone.”  

“It does not mean that you should  isolate yourself from your peers or your instructors,” she explained. “Lean in to differences and foster strong academic and social support networks in and outside of academic and professional environments.”  

Black History Month to Ashad-Bishop is a celebration of the strength of those who persevered before her.  

“I walk in the footsteps of Jane Cooke Wright,” Ashad-Bishop said of the pioneering researcher and doctor.

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