For TeQuana Bayless, finding the perfect job took three degrees and a lot of persistence. Persistence that paid off in February 2012 when she started work as a research associate with Crown Bio at the David H. Murdock Research Institute, a contract research organization for companies and universities on and off campus who are focused on human health, agriculture and nutrition.
Bayless’ road from student to scientist started with an associate degree in science that she earned in her hometown of Aurora, Illinois before moving to Charlotte in 2005. She attended UNC Charlotte where she graduated in 2007 with a degree in biology. She spent the next year in job interviews looking for a position with the right combination of responsibilities and pay. As a single mother, temporary work with local agencies could only pay the bills for so long. So when she was offered a job as a commission accounting analyst with Wachovia, now Wells Fargo, she took it.
Happy with the paycheck but frustrated that the job was not in science or healthcare, she started thinking about going back to school. A few months later, as Wachovia hit rough waters, Bayless saw her opportunity. She transferred to an online technical support position with the bank to gain more suitable hours for taking classes at Rowan-Cabarrus, and she was awarded a scholarship that helped with tuition. She graduated in 2011 but not before taking advantage of the college’s cooperative education program. She worked with the Appalachian State University Human Performance Laboratory in the summer of 2011 assisting in their biochemistry lab and with human and animal studies.
Now at Crown Bio, she works conducting research into obesity and diabetes. “It’s exceeded my expectations,” she said. “I’m still learning, still enjoying it. There’s never a dull moment. We always have our running shoes on.”
She looks back at her experience at Rowan-Cabarrus and appreciates the training. “The courses do definitely prepare you. The curriculum is really well-balanced,” she said. Bayless encourages every student to pursue an internship, even though it’s not a requirement, and benefit from the hands-on experience.
Her educational aspirations aren’t over. She’s planning on pursuing a doctorate in biology in the future. “Right now, I am loving what we are doing,” she said. “Hopefully, one day, I’ll be doing my own research.”
As a mother, she’s glad she’s proved to her two daughters, 13 and three, that persistence pays off.