Two-time graduate sees herself across campus, journey

May 17, 2024
Woman with long dark hair wearing a lab coat and blue scrubs looks at a disc.
Awendaw native and MUSC student ambassador Janiece Glover earned her master’s degree in Biomedical Sciences in 2019 and went on to complete her doctoral degree. Photos by Sarah Pack

Janiece Glover doesn’t just see herself when she looks in the mirror. While earning both her master’s and doctorate from MUSC, the Awendaw, South Carolina, native has seen echoes of her past and her future selves in the students, patients and mentors she has crossed paths with. 

It’s 2019, and Glover is finishing her master’s at MUSC. Seated in a 16-inch-tall chair at Mitchell Elementary School, she is surrounded by nine-year-olds wearing their very own white coats taking their first looks through microscopes. These students and Glover are taking part in the College of Graduate Studies’ Public Engagement and Advocacy in Charleston (PEACH) program, which is designed to expose local children to the possibilities of the biomedical sciences. Glover looks at the fourth graders starting their own love affair with the sciences and notes a reflection of herself. 

“I looked at these kids and just saw a younger me. I saw how curious they were; I also saw how they didn’t actually know what they could do and how far they could go. I knew how they would respond to certain things. I knew some of them would need to be reassured because I saw myself in them, and I knew they would be great,” said Glover. “I didn’t exactly know what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I knew I loved helping people and working for the community, and I knew I loved solving puzzles.”

She also knew, from a young age, that she loved MUSC. As a child, she had a very serious case of asthma. She was also allergic to a lot of things and was accident prone.

“I was constantly at MUSC Children’s Hospital. Even though I was unwell, the way the staff treated me and my family, I could tell this was a happy place and a place where people worked together,” said Glover. “When I decided to go into research, MUSC was a natural fit. It was always something I looked up to and wanted to be a part of.”  

Like the children who Glover mentored, her love for science and research was something that needed to be nurtured by her community. After graduating with her bachelor’s from Spelman College, Glover spent three years serving her community as a patient access representative at East Cooper Medical Center. Glover knew she wanted to do something different to address the issues she saw in health care, but she didn’t know where to start. That was, until one conversation with a former classmate. 

“It wasn’t until college, when I had my first exposure to research, that I considered this to be something I could do. I loved just doing things, having a hypothesis and spending the semester doing experiments testing it. I loved being a part of the research and learning how it could affect patient care, but I wasn’t quite ready to commit to a career in that,” said Glover. “During my third year working at East Cooper Medical Center, one my friends sent me the master’s program information. She told me, ‘You love getting your hands dirty; you love doing the work,’ while encouraging me to apply. When I started at MUSC, that’s when everything fell into place. She saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself.”

Young woman with long dark hair wearing a white lab coat stands with one hand on her hip and the other on the counter in a laboratory. 
Glover loves teaching students about science and giving back to others. Her research work focuses on understanding the body’s microbiome and pathogenic bacteria.

This month, Glover will graduate from MUSC for the second time when she earns her Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences. Over the course of her academic career, she has grown from someone unsure of her place in the lab, seeking the encouragement of senior scholars, to a leader in the lab, on campus and in her community.

“I have always struggled with self-doubt, especially when I was getting started here. Having mentors at the University who reassured me that I was on the right track and that I knew what I was doing was super important to me – my mentors who took me out of the lab and made me realize that there were more things in the community to get involved in, like connecting with other students and the interprofessional aspect of my experience here at MUSC,” said Glover.

“I love giving back to the next generation. I just vividly remember students coming in when I was younger and helping me move toward interests I had; a lot of people dedicated their time. So now I am like, ‘Why can’t I do that for others?’ It is nice to know that I played a small role in helping someone explore their passions.”

For Glover, research has always been deeply personal. During her master’s work, she studied cardiology issues, something her father’s side of the family is prone to. While working toward her doctorate, she focused on advancing understanding of the microbiome, a key component of gut health, an area of the body that her mother’s side is prone to having problems with. Glover’s research on the microbiome, in particular her work in the pathogenic bacteria Acinetobacter, has been featured in several high-impact publications. 

All accolades aside, it’s the people in her life who helped her get to this point who inspire the two-time MUSC graduate.

“I just want to help people. I know that I have my talents in research. I know I have my passion in microbiology and gut health; I want to use those to help patients,” said Glover “My purpose is to help and treat people. It stems into the community – being a source of encouragement. I know a village poured into me; I want to give it all back to others.” 

Glover will be leaving the Lowcountry for Nashville this summer, where she has been offered a prestigious fellowship at Vanderbilt. As a recipient of the exclusive Laboratory Microbiology Fellowship, Glover will be tasked with the creation of specialized treatment plans for patients with unique gut health issues. 

That offer came as no surprise to those who have mentored and worked with her. As she departs MUSC, she takes with her a bookshelf full of publications in scientific research, a resume filled with leadership positions and a cabinet full of awards, including the College of Graduate Studies’ prestigious High Impact Award. Notably, Glover has been an outspoken advocate for increasing representation in the sciences and for the promotion of culturally sensitive care.

And as she prepares to leave MUSC, the place she’s called home for many years of her life, Glover reflects back fondly on that fourth-grade class at Mitchell Elementary and on her own journey.

“I hope that the younger generation that looks like me can make it here, too. The road can be hard, but because the people before me did it, I knew I could do it. And because I did it, I know they can do it,”  said Glover. “You can be a scientist; there is no limit on what you can do.”

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