Ashley Pratt, from Albany, Wisconsin has had an educational experience many would say isn’t standard. Before completing her bachelor’s degree, she changed directions and earned two associate degrees instead. When she decided to go back to school to earn her bachelor’s degree, she did so while working both full-time as a caretaker at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center, and part-time as a veterinary technician. Now, Pratt is earning her Master of Science in Applied Biotechnology degree with UW-Platteville’s online program while working at Promega in Fitchburg, Wisconsin, a biotechnology company that manufactures tools for use in research and biological testing. It may not be a typical path, but it’s one Pratt knew was right for her.
“Because I wanted to expand my knowledge of the technologies used in biotechnology for use in my new career path, I explored options to go back to school for the Master of Science in Applied Biotechnology,” said Pratt, who anticipates earning her master’s degree in May 2025. “The collaborative master’s program made the most sense to me because I can continue to work full-time and finish my degree at a reasonable pace. The flexible schedule that the online program allows has been vital in maintaining a balance between work, school and home life.”
That flexibility became even more important for Pratt when her company pivoted to accommodate the needs of her community and the public during the COVID-19 pandemic. Promega makes components for both the polymerase chain reaction and the antibody tests, and has been scaling up production in many areas since the emergence of SARS-COVI-2. Pratt said it was very gratifying to watch the news and see how many tests were available and how quickly they were able to distribute them thanks in part to the work that her company does.
Pratt said that, as a woman in STEM, she’s never felt as though she’s been held back from anything she’s wanted to accomplish, but quoted a friend in saying, “If you look around and you see that everyone in the group you’re working with is different than you, remind yourself that you still deserve to be there.”