Santiana Jean-Baptiste

Santiana Jean-Baptiste

Engineering Lead, CQV
Santiana Jean-Baptiste
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Santiana Jean-Baptiste’s unparalleled quest and determination to live the “promised” life was seeded at an early age. Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Santiana’s mother sent her and her siblings to live in the United States where she believed was the land of golden opportunity. Unbeknown to her mother, their lives as immigrants were severely impacted by the reality of living in a poverty stricken, high crime, and underserved community in Miami, Florida, where she and her three siblings were raised, after reuniting with their mother. Despite their impoverished upbringing, Santiana displayed a steadfast will to persevere. Upon graduation from high school at the age of 17, she moved to Tampa, Florida to pursue her dream of becoming an engineer. Her dreams came true as she later graduated from the University of South Florida, as a first generation college graduate, with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Chemical Engineering, Minor in Biomedical Engineering. Ms. Jean-Baptiste has a total of 8+ years working knowledge in the medical device industry; she is expanding her expertise in the Biotechnology/Pharmaceutical Industry, as she is currently an Engineering Lead Consultant for a Biotech Company in Oregon. Santiana continues to inspire and motivate young adults to succeed despite life’s challenges. She is currently working on her first Creative Nonfiction project, a memoir, based on a 'Haitian woman's journey to become an Engineer in America'.

Answers by Santiana Jean-Baptiste

Hello Cathia.  Thank you for your question.  First, to answer your question: No, you are not setting yourself up for failure if you choose Biomedical Eingineering.  However I would caution you to think about how effective you want to be in this field.  Setting yourself up to be more versatile would benefit you greatly and will give you a stronger platform in your career endeavors.  

For example, I too wanted to pursue a Biomedical Engineering undergraduate degree.  I was given similar advice to yours, since the school that I attended did not offer Biomedical Engineering as an undergraduate degree.  At the time, the degrees offered for Biomedical Engineering was on the Masters and/or PhD level.

I decided to Major in Chemical Engineering and Minor in Biomedical Engineering instead.  Now that it is going on 7 years since I've graduated and have been working in the Biomedical/Biotechnical Engineering Industries (which encompasses Medical Devices, Pharmaceuticals and most recently Diagnostic Assays) I have realized that my choice was the best for me. 

My recommendation to you is to make the best out of your first two years in college, finding the right balance between studying to keep those grades up and doing extracurricular activities is key.

If you have some time to spare, participate and/or join different Engineering organizations.  Connect with people that are doing what you are planning to accomplish.  This will help lead you to decide on a definite major and/or minor if you choose to do so.

Also, get involved with internship and/or co-op opportunities.  I did this mostly during the summers where I would actually work part time/full time for a medical device/pharmaceutical company.  You will be surprised on how much you can learn and accomplish even if you can only dedicate 10-20 hours a week.  Additionally, this will do wonders to boost your resume as well. 

Once I started school, I realized that the 1st two years were all about taking the core competency courses such as Engineering Calculus, Differential Equations, Physics, Chemistry for Engineers, Organic Chemistry, and of course Biology.  

I learned early on that I really enjoyed Chemistry and realized that coupling both Chemical Engineering & Biomedical Engineering would give me a stronger platform in the Engineering Field, especially since I was interested in working in the Medical/Pharmaceutical Industries.  I realized this because I had internships and co-ops that helped support my decision.  Having worked in those industries really helped me choose; it was empowering as it also helped me excel once I graduated.

Currently, I work to improve and/or optimize the manufacturing processes for Biomedical/Pharmaceutical industries, by validating their system/processes so that they can effectively meet FDA standards on a consistent basis.  

I love what I do, and have found a niche that works well for me.  I believe you are on the RIGHT track and I commend you for reaching out through this wonderful website (such as EngineerGirl).   

You have a fantastic opportunity to be versatile while developing your expertise in one of the main Engineering disciplines (such as Mechanical, Chemical, Electrical, Industrial, and/or Civil).  I would suggest that you identify a passion from one of these main Engineering fields, and use it to couple your desire to pursue a Biomedical Engineering degree.  If you only want to focus on Biomedical Engineering, then start looking for internships and co-op opportunities so that you can gain EXPERIENCE in this field and/or find your own niche, like I did.

Remember, if you choose to be more diverse/versatile then you can always pursue a Major/Minor combination; you can decide which discipline you would like to Major/Minor in…depending on what your school offers.  

Check with your advisors and/or professors, you may have the option to do a 5-6 year program where you can obtain you Masters in Biomedical Engineering while obtaining your Bachelor of Science degree in one of the main Engineering disciplines.   

Either way, Cathia, you will be successful.   I could tell by your heartfelt candor and zeal, which emanated through your inquiry.   I sincerely hope my response is helpful to you.  Keep me posted.  Feel free to keep in touch as well.  Keep up the OUTSTANDING work!

Best Regards,

Santiana Jean-Baptiste

Hello and thank you for your question.  

When I was 13 years old, I too was interested in reading books relating to science and engineering.  At that age, what helped sustain my interest on these topics was participating in "hands on"  projects.  I would recommend that you visit this site: showbooklist .cfm?catid=6&list=STEM_sciencefair

I like the fact that this site have many different books on scientific projects; ones that you can work on at home.  This will help your daughter be engaged, while expanding her knowledge on scientific principals.  Also, this site have fun books on a multitude of science subjects (i.e Anatomy, Chemistry, Biology, etc).

I've also included a link for you, as a parent ( preuniver sity-education/online-magazine-to-spark- engineering -interest-in-teens).  This is an Online Magazine to Spark Engineering Interests in Teens.  The site is a great tool to help you help her,  on her journey to become an Engineer.

I hope this helps.  

Kind Regards,

Santiana Jean-Baptiste