Tech guru Ashley Nealy has always been drawn to using her STEM skills to help vulnerable people groups. So, when COVID-19 wreaked havoc on her community because of the lack of diversity in clinical trials, she wanted to do more. She found her voice to encourage better representation in clinical trials and has been changing the game ever since.
How do you stay motivated when things get really hard?
I remind myself that I am more than capable and ask myself, if not me, then who? I also fully believe in self-care and try to carve out time to do nothing, whether that’s staying home or binge-watching a show on TV. I try to give my brain a rest.
What advice would you give to others fighting for their dream?
Don’t think, just do it. The hardest part is getting started, but it’s your idea for a reason. If it doesn’t scare you, then you’re not dreaming big enough. Surround yourself with people who can support you and hold you accountable, and then go for it.
You helped shed light on Black representation during the COVID-19 vaccination trials. How do you hope you will continue to highlight Black representation in the medical field and beyond?
I hope to continue using my voice to advocate for and recruit more Black people to participate in clinical trials. I have participated in many panels at events like the Black Women’s Expo, filmed PSAs for a clinical research advocacy nonprofit and continue to use tech to reach audiences and demystify clinical trials.
What advice do you have for women hoping to break into the tech industry?
It’s easier now than ever to build tech skills, but networking is always the key to breaking into any industry. There are plenty of resources to learn, organizations to join and mentor opportunities for all kinds of tech jobs. Mostly, there’s plenty of room for more women, so get in there if you’re interested.