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Drug Discovery and Development Meet Student Chelsea Weldie

Chelsea Weldie, Drexel Drug Discovery and Development Program Student


Hometown: Clarendon, Texas
Undergraduate: University of Phoenix, BS in Healthcare Administration
Graduate: Drexel University College of Medicine, MS in Drug Discovery and Development


Can you tell me a little bit about yourself before you came to Drexel?

I served four-and-a-half years in the Air Force. During that time, I was running my own immunizations department, so I was working 10- to 12-hour days. I was able to get my bachelor's degree online in health care administration with a focus in emergency management. Once I finished my enlistment, I moved to Philadelphia because this is where my husband is from. I had looked at the post-bac programs on Drexel's website and came across the Drug Discovery and Development program. I decided to take an online class to see if I liked it, and I did, so now I am here.

How has the Drug Discovery and Development (DDD) program been so far?

I've learned so much, and it's a good environment. Some of the classes have been challenging, and it's been a transition for me from serving in the military to being a full-time student, but it's been great.

What has your experience been like working with the faculty in the program?

The faculty are great. They are super involved in all of our classes, and if we have any issues, they are there for us. They're also easy to talk to. We have a lot of functions where we'll go out and spend time together to get to know each other and network, which is nice.

What has your relationship with your classmates been like?

We're super close, and we hang out together regularly. We're all really good at intermingling in the lab and in the program. I feel like I have made some lifelong friends here. They have also helped me with my transition to Philadelphia. Only one person in the program is from here. Five students are from China and one other student is from Ohio, so we are all kind of getting used to the program and Philadelphia together.

Can you tell me about the research you are doing?

I'm in Dr. Michele Kutzler's lab. She researches HIV and C. diff, and I'm working in the C. diff portion. I was initially brought on to get some bench work time in because I didn't have any of that in my undergraduate experience. However, I am getting to use my health care administration background. I'm a data manager, so I look over the REDCap (Research Electronic Data Capture), and I manage the program that we put all of our research data into. I work a lot with patient records, and I'm also starting to work in the epidemiology portion of the research. We're submitting a new grant in a couple of months, and I'm helping to write part of it.

What skills do you feel like you've developed in the program so far?

I've learned a lot of research skills, including learning how to read research papers and present them in front of the department. I've also developed networking skills. Last semester, I was in Advanced Topics in Drug Discovery and Development, and they brought in a few people to speak to us. Dr. Ellie Cantor, a representative for the Association of Women in Science, came and I got to network with her. I ended up joining the organization. It's really cool getting to meet the various speakers because they tell you how they progressed in their profession and what they would recommend for us. Everyone has been so down-to-earth and nice. It has helped reassure me that I am on the right path.

What do you have planned for after you complete your degree?

I'm going to apply for PhD programs, but I'm also going to apply for jobs. I've been working with the Dornsife School of Public Health to transition into one of their PhD programs, but I don't want to put all of my eggs in one basket, so I'm going to see what's out there.

What advice do you have for future students of the Drug Discovery and Development program?

The Drug Discovery and Development program is super malleable. If you're not sure what you want to do, it is a great program for you. But it's also great for people who do know what they want, since it can be shaped to best fit your interests. I am interested in vaccines, which is a very niche area, but we were able to shape the program to make it work for me. My advice for future students is to be prepared to mold the program to fit however you want to progress in your career.