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Purdue Ag alum reflects on her success in master’s program

Eager to learn more about her field, Michaela Covington enrolled in Purdue’s Master of Science Biotechnology Innovation & Regulatory Science (BIRS) program six months after graduating from college, becoming the youngest person in the summer 2020 graduating class.

Now a regulatory reporting specialist at Cook Medical in the endoscopy unit, Covington is grateful for the invaluable personal growth she gained through the BIRS program. She reflects with pride on her accomplishments in the BIRS program and her excitement to share her experience with family and friends.

“I did something to make my family proud. A very small percentage of African Americans have graduate degrees. It’s an honor to be able to say I did this, I finished this and I can be an inspiration to other members of my family,” said Covington.

The BIRS faculty members, located in the Purdue Agriculture and Biological Engineering Department, teach important aspects of biotechnology innovation within the context of regulatory science and quality assurance. The hybrid program consists of in-person and online learning experiences, with an emphasis on leadership for the working professional.

“The program faculty were very understanding and flexible because they understood we are all working adults. It wasn’t only the flexibility of classes or the hybrid model, but the flexibility of the staff that helped me succeed. This program is very beneficial for the working professional who wants an education but fears they don’t have the time,” said Covington.

A highlight for Covington was meeting people in the program and through guest lectures.

“Instantly, you meet and work with people who have a totally different perspective than you. We had a wide array of industries, from quality assurance to project managers and manufacturing, all in one room.

“The industry interactions with guest lectures brought new perspectives to the classes. You learn examples that aren’t in a textbook. We made professional connections and created bonds with people that can help us along the way.”

During a guest lecture, Covington met her mentor, Myra Casey, a consumer safety officer and bio researching monitoring operations specialist for the United States Food and Drug Administration. She reflected on how inspiring it was to meet another successful Black woman in the regulatory field. Since that lecture, Casey has been an encouraging resource for Covington as she navigates her career.

“Be ready to do the work. It’s worth it, but be prepared to put in some effort. And don’t let the environment or people around you scare you from applying even if you’re younger. There is a learning curve and you can’t be afraid to speak up, but it’s OK even if you’re young in your career.”

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