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Supporting Early Career Professionals: How the Southern California Chapter Does It

The PDA Southern California (SoCal) Chapter constantly strives to engage with industry members. While we host expert talks on forward-thinking topics and networking events, we also focus our efforts on uplifting early career professionals, which is especially important during an unstable time such as now.

The SoCal Executive Board constantly reaches out to our Student Chapter at the Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) at the Claremont Colleges. They keep things lively by volunteering their time to networking events and inspiring us with their posters they present each year.

Another pivotal way the SoCal Chapter encourages early career professionals is the Chapter’s scholarship.

In February 2020, the SoCal Chapter was happy to award Ronise Evans, MBS and Sowmiya Lakshna, MBS with the scholarships. Ronise is currently at PSC Biotech as an operation analyst, and Sowmiya is currently at AGC Biologics as an associate business development partner. We wish them the best in their careers and are excited to see where their adventures go next.

This year, the SoCal Chapter is happy to announce that we have increased the award amount to $2,000. This is all possible with the hard efforts of the SoCal Executive Board Members and with our corporate sponsor, Commissioning Agents.

The scholarship application sets a high bar for applicants. Students must be enrolled in their second year of a graduate program and maintain a 3.0 GPA. On top of the academic rigors, they also need to provide their resume and an 800-word statement on their career goals and aspirations for the industry. And if that isn’t enough, the students must reach out to three professionals to submit a letter of recommendation, two of which must be professors at their program and one outside of their academic program.

“We are constantly amazed by the standards the KGI students bring!” says Sheba Zaman, the SoCal Chapter President. “They always bring refreshing ideas and help our local chapter expand and grow exponentially. We really cannot have done it all without their support.”

Jason Kerr, the SoCal Chapter Treasurer and Early Career Professional Liaison to the KGI Student Chapter, meets regularly with the Student Chapter President. In early 2020, it was with Masami Amakawa and because of her graduation in May 2020, she passed the torch to Stephanie Lee. Kerr describes, “With our frequent meetings, we are able to foster better collaboration and communication between the local chapter and student chapter. More importantly, it’s a symbiotic relationship between all of us; the students are exposed to industry and we have student volunteers to help us at our PDA SoCal events throughout the year.”

The SoCal Chapter will always be committed to our members and give special care to our early career professionals. We plan to further expand with mentorship programs and find ways to engage with students, even during a pandemic. These early career professionals will become our industry leaders and we need to better prepare them for the challenges that they will be facing, especially in these tumultuous times.

KGI Students lending a hand at a SoCal PDA Event KGI Students lending a hand at a SoCal PDA Event
Stephanie Lee (left) the ‘21 Student Chapter President and Masami Amakawa (right) ’20 Student Chapter President at the 2020 SoCal Vendor Event prior to the pandemic. Stephanie Lee (left) the ‘21 Student Chapter President and Masami Amakawa (right) ’20 Student Chapter President at the 2020 SoCal Vendor Event prior to the pandemic.

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