National Stuttering Association

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Madison NicholsFlow Cytometry Specialist

    Madison Nichols

    Grand Rapids, MI
    Flow Cytometry Specialist
    Van Andel Research Institute

    Briefly describe your daily job duties.
    My job involves assisting researchers with analyzing their cell specimens using the principles of flow cytometry. I’m responsible for being able to analyze experiments when needed, keeping analyzers clean and functional, and also for caring for our two cell sorters. Cell sorting is my main job, in which I use high complexity instrumentation to sort cells from a suspension into a separate receptacle to allow our clients to use them for other research purposes.

    As a person who stutters, share the most challenging part of your job.
    It’s been particularly difficult during the pandemic meeting people very slowly instead of all at once. People are slowly phasing into returning to work, which puts some added stress on me to meet new people on a fairly regular basis.

    What are your long-term career aspirations?
    I’d love to stay in this position and continue to learn as long as I continue to feel passionate about the work I am doing.

    Did you self-disclose your stuttering during the job hiring process?
    Disclosure of my stuttering was the first thing I did when applying for this job. I disclosed it in my application and my letter of intent as well as to every on-boarding individual along the way. Disclosure is something I am very passionate about, as I believe it takes stress off of us to try to appear perfect and to try to hide something that isn’t even our fault.

    What is your proudest moment at your current company?
    I’m very proud of transitioning to this job at the very beginning of the pandemic and am also proud of myself for continuing to learn and meet new people even though it can be difficult.

    Describe how stuttering makes you a better, more valued contributor at work.
    I work on being a good, active listener. I always try to give people the space and time to share their ideas without interruption because I know how hard it can be to communicate.

    What’s your best advice for people who stutter just entering the workplace and for those in a career striving to achieve greater success?
    Always be yourself, even if being your true self requires you to put in more effort and go beyond your comfort zone. Be willing to learn new things and to be corrected. Always be willing to lend a hand and stay away from workplace drama! Most of all, don’t let something like your speech hold you back. When you’re in the right position, those who truly care about you won’t care and will give you all the time in the world to speak your mind.

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