Catherine (Cat) Munro
Post Research Fellow | Khalifa University
Science Health and Medicine Cohort
Q: How was this program different from your other experiences in GW?
Cat: There is nothing like WLP in the other three years at school. Having direct access to mentors and help is something that takes years to create in your major field of study. I am going to argue the program double times to make sure that the challenges are not specific to academics, but to expand your global outlook using courses as a tool to modify each students’ paradigm. The program works to make its participants holistically more accomplished people.
Q: Tell me about yourself as a student and your school days in the Women’s Leadership Program? What did you study?
Cat: Academically, I was the only person in SHM who was not only terrified of blood and wildly uninterested in going to med school, but also undeclared with respect to what I wanted to study. Because of that, three days a week I was on the Vern with my cohort taking the required curriculum, and the other two I was on Foggy, mostly in the art studios, playing with all different media and creating all sorts of structure. To ease my parents fears of me becoming a starving artist I also took accounting freshman year. Surprisingly all of this came in use in unorthodox ways because I ended up studying chemistry and fine art while at GW (originally contemplating architecture or art restoration) but ultimately, I now have a PhD in bio-inorganic chemistry where I worked on material design and nanostructures (this would be the chemistry part); but it is incredible how much easier it is for people to understand chemistry when you draw it and describe it the same way we describe art and works of art. It also helps attract attention if you can generate a graphic of your work that is not only informative but also pretty.
I am going to argue that going to college is much more than your academics though so as a member of the program the school days involved some amount of course work but a lot more adventure and discovery.
Q: What are some of your most salient memories of the program?
Cat: We had some incredible lectures and outings on our symposium nights which I took for granted at the time. Now that I have worked at a handful of other universities (private/public/ 4-year/ community/ for profit etc.) I can say without a doubt that the programing put together by the WLP faculty is truly one of a kind. But also, having faculty willing to give up their time to chaperone newly minted adults around a world class city is incredibly unique to the program.
Besides the programming put together by our mentors, the best memory of my time in WLP is the fondness I feel when thinking about it. As chaotic as it could be to be dropped into a group of women who know nothing about each other, the process of all of us navigating that space together generated a warmth for me. Arguably, my best college friends are people I met as a result of WLP and we still have a very active group chat.
Q: If someone did not know about the Women's Leadership Program, what is the one thing that you would tell them about it?
Cat: It is a living learning community that encourages you to go beyond all things you thought you would be doing your first year at school.
Q: Can you describe what you do today professionally/ academically?
Cat: I am a research oriented fellow so most days I get to the lab around 8 AM, warm up the instruments and prep the experiments that need to be done for the day. I try to have most of the wet chemistry done by 3 PM so that I can have time to clean up and export the data for work up in my office.
Q: How has a supportive community been a part of your success?
Cat: There is nothing more important than having people you can communicate openly with across all topics of your life. I have people I can openly talk to about my science without fear of it being taken away from me. I have people I talk to about navigating tough situations at work. I have people I talk to about what my next career move is. Any situation I am in I know I will need a small pocket of people I can trust to help me rationalize my position and ultimate action. Community is everything.
"There is nothing like WLP in the other three years at school. Having direct access to mentors and help is something that takes years to create in your major field of study."