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Girl Up Career Interview: Kiara Whittle and Ky’Eisha Penn by Nicole Velez

Recently I got the opportunity to meet Kiara Whittle and Ky’Eisha Penn, both amazing people who love what they do from what I’ve seen. Kiara works as a production chemist and deals with cover, like producing the tests and kits. On the other hand, Ky’Eisha does a lot of different work, but mostly in education and things like defunding the police. During the conversion I had with them my fellow seed scholars and myself asked them a few questions as follows:

Tell us about how and why you entered your career:

Kiara: At first, I went into liberal arts, but I always wanted to be a scientist since I was little. I wasn’t sure in what area, but I knew I wanted to work within that field. Eventually, I found out that I actually knew I wanted to major in chemistry when I took chemistry in high school, the same place I met Nitiya. In the future, I want to become a Forensic Toxicologist or a Pharmacologist.

Ky’Eisha: At some point, I wanted to study to become a nurse, however, I soon realized it wasn’t for me. I didn’t enjoy the classes and so I decided to study something else. I entered my career as a civil rights attorney in DC after the murder of a young teenage boy. His death really impacted me in a great way and it led me to do what I do today.

What skills have you found vital to your job?

Kiara: I’ve found that having the skills of patience and discipline are vital to my job because what I do takes a lot of time and trial and error.

Ky’Eisha: In my career being a people person is vital to becoming a lawyer. Since you are helping others you need to be able to communicate with people. In addition to that, writing is also vital because you need to be able to write to others and present your findings.

What is your favorite part about your career (current or past)?

Kiara: My favorite part of my career has to due with this pandemic, although that sounds bad. Covid-19 has pushed me to study the virus regarding the chemical aspect of it, as in toxicology and it’s given me the opportunity to learn from it. Not only that but it’s made my interest in stuff like it grow.

Ky’Eisha: My favorite part of being an attorney is being able to help out my people and support the current Black Lives Matter movement through racial justice.

Was there a career setback you faced which you later realized was an advantage?

Kiara: Being a woman, being a black woman, and being a black woman in STEM. However, that was an advantage because it pushed me to do better and show everyone I can do what I do, regardless of the labels put.

Ky’Eisha: It can be intimidating to enter a field that is dominated by other people, but that fear can then turn to something greater and fuel you to do better.

What is some advice you would offer to someone who is interested in your work?

Kiara: Khan Academy will be your best friend !!

Ky’Eisha: I’d advise those who want to become an attorney that it requires people to go to law school they should know how to move around. The major you chose can be anything. However, a good essential class to take would be writing, not creative writing though. Since as an attorney you will need to write a lot. Books you could read all depend on the type of lawyer you want to be. But always remember, never downplay what you have to offer and make sure you’re heard.

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