After earning her Bachelor of Science in General Biology from the University of Maryland, Samantha Caesar worked for a few years in the medical field with the intention of continuing onto medical school. She instead decided to pursue a career in an area of science with less direct involvement in patient care and completed her master’s degree in Forensic Science from Stevenson University Online. While at Stevenson, Samantha worked as a Graduate Assistant for the School of the Sciences. This opportunity allowed her to enroll in the program tuition-free and obtain her advanced degree in two years. She now works as a Scientific Analyst for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) within the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, MD since 2015.
In her first role at the NIH, Samantha managed a variety of cancer analysis working groups that focused on analyzing various tumor types. Her teams have published 33 manuscripts over the last three years. In her current position, Samantha writes medical summaries and reviews/creates clinical trial documents for on-going clinical trials sponsored by the NIH. She loves that she can contribute to helping people find adequate treatment for their diseases and contribute to finding the cure for cancer.
Prior to attending Stevenson, Samantha was researching new career options and scheduled a meeting with Dr. Tobin, Program Coordinator and Associate Professor of Forensic Science at Stevenson. It was there Samantha learned about the career-focused program and instantly enrolled. She notes that the accomplished faculty were very helpful throughout her studies and that she still is in contact with professors today. The curriculum at Stevenson truly prepared Samantha to be a leader in her Scientific Analyst role at the NIH.
Samantha praises her courses in the Forensic Science program at Stevenson for helping her obtain her position at the NIH. She explains, “The DNA/serology aspect of my degree helped me stand out among others in the field of cancer analysis. Also, by taking the research courses, I found that I enjoy researching and writing much more than working in a laboratory-based position.” Her role involves acute attention to detail as Samantha is responsible for writing and reviewing documents that will be listen on a public platform for potential clinical trial cancer patients. She finds the most challenging aspect of her job is phrasing summaries in a manner that non-experts can understand but also retains the integrity of the more technical medial explanations. Samantha credits the thesis course in the Forensic Science program for preparing her for the more demanding aspects of her position.
To succeed in her field, Samantha believes that, “you need to possess a strong sense of professionalism and be willing to work as part of a team in order to achieve goals. You should be very detail oriented and practice good time-management skills.” Samantha names her mother as her role model and attributes her success to the solid foundation that was set for her. She explains, “She recently passed away in September 2017, but throughout her life she always worked hard to achieve her goals. As a foreigner who migrated to the U.S. in the 1970’s, she worked tirelessly to achieve ‘The American Dream’ for our family. She also worked for NIH for almost 30 years, and would often bring me to work during ‘take-your-child-to-work day.’ It is very ironic that I am now working here as she did for most of her life.” Samantha hopes that she is making her mother proud.
In her free time, Samantha enjoys working out, going on hikes, and participating in other outdoor activities. She also loves to read and journal. Most recently, Samantha has been learning to play both the guitar and the piano.