The magic of working at Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) was in the air last year when a patient came in to tour the facility where the medicine that gave him a new lease on life was made. He had been given a terminal diagnosis and after exhausting nearly all his options, he had almost given up hope. A BMS cell therapy was his last resort, and after receiving the treatment made at the Bothell, Washington cell therapy manufacturing facility, he was given a second chance.
My name is Mary Prasek, a Manufacturing Associate II based at the Bothell facility, and I have enjoyed a rewarding career at BMS since early 2021. The opportunity to pursue my career at BMS presented itself after graduating with my degree in Health Sciences from Lake Washington Institute of Technology and earning the Essentials of Biomanufacturing Certificate from Shoreline Community College (SCC) as part of a BMS-sponsored training program. My passion for science, challenging work, and helping others led me to learn STEM, as I have always dreamt of how I can help people in need and make a difference in patients’ lives. Having worked in a hospital setting, I wanted to do more and be a source of hope for people with life-threatening conditions. This led me to pursue my degree and ultimately take the scholarship opportunity offered by BMS to earn my Biomanufacturing Certificate from SCC. I wanted a challenging, rewarding and more meaningful career that is life-changing, not just for me but for our patients as well. Through detailed training and hands-on experience in manufacturing personalized cell therapies for patients, BMS provided the avenue to put my education and skills into practice to formulate medicines for people in dire need of help.
My involvement in STEM has evolved over my life from working at a hospital to physical therapy, and now to developing medicines at BMS. Upon hearing about the Biomanufacturing training program that offered the combined educational training at SCC and an internship at BMS, I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity not only to further my own goals, but because BMS is an established company with a good reputation and track record for delivering innovative and potentially life-saving medicine to its patients. The significance of the program offered by BMS/SCC is that it is symbiotic: BMS provides opportunities to capable people looking to expand their horizons and enter new careers in the life sciences, while certificate candidates provide BMS with a pipeline of diverse talent critical to delivering on its mission. The Biomanufacturing Certificate program is open to anyone with a drive for science, and supports diversity in STEM roles through this training opportunity that can lead directly into applying for a career at BMS.
As a woman of color, working for an organization that supports diversity in STEM is so rewarding. The BMS/SCC program acknowledges the importance of supporting a more diverse workforce that will produce innovative ideas with the goal of developing new types of treatment that can be delivered throughout the world to change people’s lives.
People come from different backgrounds and experiences, and when we work together, the best ideas are generated as each person has a different perspective to offer. This demonstrates how diversity promotes excellence in science and at BMS where they strive to make STEM fields more diverse and inclusive.
The BMS-sponsored certificate program at SCC provided me with a solid foundation in biomanufacturing, and I am excited about the continued opportunity to grow my career at BMS in a rewarding and challenging environment. Cell therapy is an exciting field to be a part of and I am proud to be working for a company that promotes diversity and opportunities for women in STEM. Looking back on my journey, I am grateful that I made the investment in myself to learn the skills that led to my career at BMS. I hope that anyone considering a career in the biomanufacturing field knows that the time spent is well worth it, as it gives you a great sense of accomplishment, there are many opportunities for advancement, and BMS supports my continued professional growth.