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For as long as she can remember, Carolyn Waite ’06 (Perkasie, Pa.) has wanted a career in pharmaceuticals.

“My dad works in pharmaceuticals, and my mom is a nurse,” says the chemical engineering major. “I even applied to a pharmacy school before applying to Lafayette.”

This summer, Waite served an internship at GlaxoSmithKline in Collegeville, Pa. Kimberly Bassi ’01, senior clinical development scientist, arranged the opportunity with the pharmaceutical giant.

“I was really excited to get some real-world exposure to it,” says Waite. “This has definitely taught me that I do want to work in pharmaceuticals. I’ve gone to a lot of meetings, and I understand the process from the molecular level to manufacturing.”

Waite’s responsibilities included overseeing clinical trials of an oncology drug patented for small cell lung and ovarian cancers and writing documents used for Food and Drug Administration briefings.

“She provided scientific input to the study by creating and designing background documents and conducting literature reviews, which describe what research has been done previously and what we might be able to improve,” Bassi explains.

She was very pleased with Waite’s performance and dedication.

“She is just fantastic,” Bassi says. “My director said just the other day, ‘Maybe Carolyn doesn’t need to go back to Lafayette next year. If she could stay with us, we would be happy to have her.’ She took on more than an intern’s role, sometimes even more than a scientist’s role. She’s ambitious, and we could give her anything and she’d do it. Even with really difficult tasks, she just took them on and really dug into things from a scientific standpoint. She also was good at asking questions like ‘Why does this happen?’ or ‘Why do we look at this?’”

Waite admits that understanding the complex information could be difficult, but she approached her assignments with curiosity and enthusiasm.

“I’ve never really been exposed to oncology before and I didn’t know a lot about it. It was a challenge writing about these things; I had to teach myself through research about subjects I was not familiar with at all.”

Waite has learned that independent thought, analytical thinking, and communication skills are critical for graduate work or a career in the field.

The work also gave her experience with an aspect of pharmaceuticals that she didn’t know existed.

“I’ve gotten a feel for pharmaceuticals as an industry, not just as science and engineering,” she explains. “It’s a business and seeing the business aspect of it has been valuable to me.”

Bassi was glad to show Waite the many sides of pharmaceuticals.

“When I was at Lafayette, I did a lot of research on campus, so I had great opportunities and cherished all of them. I didn’t have the chance to be out in industry, and I wanted to be able to show people what they were going to be doing,” Bassi says. “Lafayette gave me a tremendous amount of opportunities and I want to do whatever I can do to help students there.”

Waite is a member of Clarinet Choir and helped her residence hall raise money for the Breast Cancer Survivors Foundation. She is a graduate of Pennridge High School.

Categorized in: Academic News