Ep. 85: Carlise Bethel – Sharing Her Teacher-y-ness on Transitioning and Getting Through Difficult Moments

Dr. Carlise Bethel is the first African-American to graduate from University of Maryland Baltimore County with a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cell Biology. She has worked and received many accolades in the field of cancer research. After taking a non-conventional path after her Ph. D., she is five years into her career in teaching biology and health professions classes at a high school in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Carlise is married and the mother of two kids, and a personal friend and mentor of mine. Join me to hear her story!

TWEET: “My life-changing moment was receiving a #microscope for a birthday present as a kid.” #CarliseBethel

Switching Gears:

Have you experienced those moments of confusion and uncertainty about your future? You know, those times when it seems like everyone else seems to know exactly what they want to do with their lives, and you are the one who “doesn’t have a clue.” Carlise shares how this experience affected her life, and how taking a developmental biology class literally changed the course of her life. This was where “it all came together.” Working in the lab led her into the Ph.D. program and the Meyerhoff graduate program. While completing her research, she got married and went on to have two kids. Listen to Carlise’s advice about finding other options and reconnecting with what you LIKE to do.

TWEET: “Nobody can tell you what you’re supposed to do; you just have to #work through it.” #CarliseBethel


Does everyone experience transitions? Of course we do; it’s just that some of us don’t recognize them while going through them. Carlise shares how relating to people and connecting with others can make you feel less isolated and alone. Everyone goes through lulls, but getting support and building a mentor network can make all the difference. One of the big keys is to build your toolbox with resources you can turn to when things seem to stall out. This is how to stay grounded and connected during a transition time.

TWEET: “I’ve been through so many #transitions that I’m sure there are more of them ahead.” #CareerLove

Feeling “Teacher-y” and Making a Difference:

As a teacher, moments come when you enjoy what you do; it’s those times when your students “get it.” Carlise shares a personal story about her students creating a lasting resource from which they keep on learning. The beauty is that they worked and learned together to find deeper understanding. Teachers have to develop this learning culture in the classroom and give students the freedom to make mistakes and offer ideas freely.

TWEET: “The things that tell you what you DON’T want are just as important as those that tell you what to do.” #Passion

GUEST RECOMMENDATION: “Do something with your dream every day. It will become a part of you and a habit if you touch it every day.”


  • [3:30] Hooked on science: how it began
  • [4:00] Why the veterinarian dream died
  • [5:50] Dark time: figuring out what to do
  • [8:30] Identifying the “dark times” of uncertainty
  • [13:20] Learning patience and figuring it out
  • [16:30] Building a mentor network: connecting and relating to others
  • [20:45] From Ph.D. to the next career path: high school teacher??
  • [21:05] Another transition ahead for Carlise?
  • [25:40] Express your “teacher-y-ness”
  • [34:30] Recognizing the “sorting-out period”
  • [38:50] Not always learning the same way/taking a different approach
  • [41:00] Would you change, re-do, or restart anything?
  • [43:25] One action for a dream chaser to take

Links of Interest:

Carlise on Twitter

Carlise on LinkedIn

American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Meyerhoff Scholars Program


TWEET: “Keep trying things until something sticks.” #CarliseBethel

TWEET: “#Learning is the art of figuring out what works best for you.” #CarliseBethel

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