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Catching up with the ladies of COACh: Spotlight on Professor Emerald Wilson, MS

from NOBCChE

In 2008, a group of six young women at various stages of their academic programs came together during the COACh (Committee on the Advancement of Women Chemists) workshop held at the 37th annual conference in Philadelphia seeking personal growth and professional development opportunities. During this workshop, they uncovered some common challenges encountered to advance their careers, and worked together to develop a specific set of skills necessary to break through those roadblocks.

Now these women have a shared sisterhood and are doing great things in their career and in NOBCChE. NOBCChE caught up with Emerald Wilson to see what she is doing now in her career and how the COACh workshop at NOBCChE helped her get there.

If you are interested in attending the COACh workshop at the upcoming NOBCChE conference in New Orleans, please send an email to

NOBCChE E-Brief: How did you first get involved with NOBCChE?
Emerald Wilson:
My former adviser suggested I attend the workshop. I first learned about NOBCChE in July 2000 from someone who was sitting next to me on plane. I was flying in from a leadership conference in Champaign, Ill. I was taking a connecting flight from Champaign to Pittsburgh in Chicago. The person beside me was a female chemist who was attending graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh.

She told me about the organization because I told her I was a chemistry major. I attended a small private institution so I was unaware that such an organization existed. Unfortunately, I lost her contact information but I made sure I became a member of the organization online. I attended a conference to present my research in 2002 and met other individuals who were influential as I continued my career in chemistry. Basically, I was member of the national organization.

[NEB]: What was your first impression of the COACh workshop? What aspects of the workshop do you remember the most? How did the COACh workshop help you move forward in your career?
[EW]: I remember there being a small group of us. Each of us were going through a turn point or pivotal point in our lives and our careers. Most of us had gone through serious trials and tribulations during our journey to obtaining a graduate degree. We had some good discussion. The facilitators gave us feedback about how to look at situations differently.

[NEB]: What have you done in your career since the workshop? What have you been doing with NOBCChE since the workshop?
[EW]: I completed my master's degree with a specialization in the biological and physical acience and a community college teaching certificate. I worked for a temp agency and tutored for a couple years. I had rather rocky start coming out of graduate school. But, in August 2013, I started teaching at Prince George's Community College. I teach general and organic chemistry.

[NEB]: What would you tell someone who is thinking about attending a COACh workshop? What would you tell someone who is thinking about joining NOBCChE?
[EW]: I would tell them attend if they have an opportunity. I am no longer a member [of NOBCChE], [but] I tell students to look into because it is great resource. There are opportunities for students in terms of networking, research and scholarships.

[NEB]: What advice would you share with aspiring female leaders in NOBCChE and in STEM in general?
[EW]: It is important to have networking connections with other individuals in the research/career area. It makes a difference. If you can find a connection with someone or a group, NOBCChE is definitely an organization to get involved with because many influential are connected with NOBCChE. It can sometimes be a long, lonely road. Take advantage of as many internships, workshops and/or conferences. Making connections with like-minded people or people who believe you can make the difference between giving up and making a difference. The people you start with may not necessarily be people you finish with in the end. It is not a race. Sometimes you have to take the long road to get to where you want to be. You cannot try to be someone else. You can only be you. You are going make mistakes and you are going to learn from them. You can only do better the next time around. more

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