Boss Lady Series: Strength Comes from Challenges

Boss Lady July continues!  I had the privilege of interviewing one of my role model’s.  She is a boss lady scientist and is doing groundbreaking research.  With that being said, I would like to introduce to you Erica Tross- Artis!


Erica! Introduce Yourself: Tell us who you are, what you do and a little about you.

Hi! My name is Erica Marie Tross. I was born in Toronto, Canada to a Cuban Father and a Kittitian Mother. I was raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan with my two older brothers. I’ve been married to my college sweetheart for 2 years, Andre Artis.

I love candles, I love all (sour) candy, I prefer my water sparkling, Chai tea is the best, I’m a bag lady – I’ll go barefoot for a nice bag, and I’m a journal hoarder. Every idea, TODO list, and journal entry deserves its own journal. Eyes (brows/lashes) are my favorite to ‘make-up’, I cannot drive my car if my lips or hands are dry, and something that you’ll always find in my purse is the special lens cloth to clean my glasses.

I went to Oakwood University for college, attended Fisk University for my Master’s degree and am currently a 4th-year biomedical sciences graduate student at Vanderbilt University.

Biomedical science?  That’s impressive! What inspired or motivated you to pursue biomedical science? 

I have always been fascinated by the human body. While most little girls were playing ‘house’, I often played ‘doctor’. My baby dolls got sick and I would fix them. My mom is a nurse practitioner and we always had the most sophisticated first aid kits at home – meaning my baby dolls received the best health care. In college, my fascination grew. The phenomenon of a single cell developing into a complex mature adult through perfectly orchestrated interactions between genes is awe-inspiring, and my decision to pursue studies in the biomedical sciences in college and now as a biomedical researcher was driven by a desire to understand these processes and how they change specifically in diseases that disproportionately affect women.

I studied science in college so I know that science is not easy and that there are challenges. What are some of the challenges that you face, especially being a black woman in science and how do you overcome them?

Yes, I am pursuing my studies in an environment where there are very few people that look like me, and that means that I spend much of my time proving myself, which is very exhausting. I guess my color or gender insinuates that I am uneducated (or less educated) than my peers – my status as a student at my institution doesn’t validate my merit. This has always been a challenge for me because I have been at Historically Black institutions for all of my prior education. To overcome this challenge, I had to come to terms with the fact that ‘this is life’.

Is it fair? No. Is this going to stop me? No. Get up. Dress up. Show up. And work hard. I spend a fair amount of time self-affirming. Constantly whispering words of encouragement or Bible verses to myself to cure the imposter syndrome. If you are a Boss Lady trying to make it to the top, these are common issues. Don’t let them stop you, let them make you stronger.

“God, woke me up this morning, so He must not be done with me yet”

Erica that is so powerful! Knowing everything you know now if you could go back, would you do it all over again? 

Nope! Well, college was fun. I wouldn’t mind repeating college.

Okay… not the answer I was expecting. Anyways, what are your three things that make a woman a boss lady?

  1. Spending time with and relying on God for her Boss Lady strength each day.
  2. Self-care is critical. A Boss Lady knows when to stop and when to go. Take time for yourself. Protect your mind, body, and soul.
  3. Boss Ladies are intentional about their work. They know their goal, develop a plan and don’t let anything get in between that plan and that goal.

Erica, this has been fun, you have really touched my life through this interview. Before you go, what is one thing that you would tell someone who wants to be a boss lady, especially one in science?

Believe in yourself. It is so easy to doubt our abilities and question God’s plan for us when things get hard. Get up. Dress up. Show up. – especially on the days when it’s most difficult.

Can I say one more thing? WORK HARD. You have to work harder than the people around you. One of my favorite quotes is, Opportunity favors the prepared mind. Make sure that you are always prepared. Presenting in a meeting? Practice. Meeting with someone important? Read about them. Going to church? Read your lesson.

Boss Ladies have a lot on their plates. Stress levels are often high, self-confidence levels are sometimes low, anxiety and depression sometimes pay us a visit. If you have access to a therapist – take advantage of that opportunity. Invest in your mental health.

Keep your crown high and your smile bright!


Thanks, Erica for taking the time out at and sharing. If you would like to learn more about Erica and or just would like to talk to someone, she can be reached at


Until Next Time,


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