Main Content Region

Alumni Profile

Lauren Gray (B.A. 2012) Media Specialist & Project Manager for Manufacturing Blaze Bioscience

Lauren Gray (B.A. 2012)
Media Specialist & Project Manager for Manufacturing
Blaze Bioscience

Lauren GrayLike many English majors, Lauren Gray loved her English classes but unequivocally knew that she didn’t love the idea of teaching. Other students also fear that a degree in English is the surest path to an obligatory teaching career. Lauren’s professional trajectory dispels this assumption.

Since 2014, Lauren has worked at Blaze Bioscience, a Seattle-based biotechnology firm. Biotechnology (biotech) companies research cellular and molecular processes in order to develop new health care technologies. Blaze specifically manufactures an imaging agent and a near-infrared imaging device that assist in the visualization of cancer cells during pediatric cancer surgeries.

When Lauren first joined Blaze, she was hired as the Office Administrator. As Blaze’s visibility and industry profile increased, she transitioned into the position of Media Specialist.  In this role, Lauren relied on the writing skills she had sharpened as an English major. She wrote company press releases as well as drafted press statements from Blaze’s executives and research collaborators.  Over the course of two to three years at Blaze, Lauren’s confidence, industry knowledge, and fluency in the language of biotech all grew.

She was later promoted to her current position as Project Manager for Manufacturing.  In this more technical role, Lauren manages an internal team of five colleagues along with 25-30 collaborators from three outside vendors. As Project Manager, she must coordinate all manufacturing priorities, while also juggling shifting timelines for FDA approvals and other contingencies.

What does Lauren find most rewarding about her job? At the macro level, she appreciates working in an industry that solves critical health problems, particularly those affecting young cancer patients. Day to day, Lauren is excited by the constant challenges of her role; she’s always learning and very little feels mundane.

Blaze was particularly interested in Lauren because of, not in spite of, her English major. As Lauren shares, the company “saw something in me that maybe I didn’t even see yet.”  Her curiosity about the world that CSUSB inspired also fostered Lauren’s inquisitiveness about biotech.

So how did Lauren find her way to the biotech field? She talked to anyone and everyone! Specifically, she asked acquaintances and professionals she saw on Linkedin for an “informational interview” to learn about their work and career trajectories. She had twenty of these interviews in the first month of her job search, and she encourages recent graduates to do this sort of networking, even if it feels awkward. Remember, these meetings aren’t set up to judge you, and it’s ok if you aren’t exactly sure what you want to do. It is through making these connections that you discover how people got started in their fields.

Lauren didn’t necessarily imagine herself in biotech and in fact had not done well in science courses early on as a college student. But she was open to learning and relied on her skills as an English major to thrive in this rewarding career.