Maria Conner

MPS in Project Management
Current Position:
Scientific Project Manager, Medical Science and Computing, LLC, for the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Baltimore, MD

How do your contributions to your program and to the SCS community overall make you a strong candidate for The Hoya Professional 30?

Upon entering the workforce five years ago, I integrated my background in science with a newfound interest in project management. I pivoted into personally uncharted territory as a scientific project manager for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), aware of the responsibility required to serve for a global health leader. After lifelong Catholic and Jesuit education, it is a responsibility I do not take lightly. Serving as a project manager in malaria vaccine development and traveling to West Africa for this work have both tested my comfort level, and reassured my determination to reach corners of the world that are plagued by health crises.

The Georgetown SCS community, rooted in diversity and global contribution, is called to servant leadership by using our education and social awareness for the betterment of others. I have exemplified Georgetown values and the SCS mission of diversity by combining multiple disciplines to serve international communities. Working with our West African colleagues in person (after years of online connection) to prepare study sites was a massive responsibility. Seeing the communities I work with and serve was both a challenge and a humbling experience, and it broke down the barrier between what we see from television and the real people affected by disease. I continue to call upon this experience in my daily life and education, and look forward to continuing this work.

What advice do you have for current students?
During my entire time as a Georgetown student, I have worked full-time and I had another part-time job on the weekends. There were many times when I struggled to be equally excellent in both work and school. During periods when I felt most challenged, remembering these two things kept me going, and I hope they serve as advice to current students.

First, we have made it thus far without faltering in our educational journey. If we are still here, no obstacle has been a match for our dedication to this work. Second, and more importantly, being an active member of the Georgetown community helps us “win our seat at the table,” as they say. Engaging in our curriculum opens up more possibilities to be in the room where decisions are being made, and so we may do so with justice and service in mind. This is always worth the focus that being students requires of us.