SPARKED: A Woman of Action and the Freedom to Explore—Mary Jo's Story

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Mary Jo DeFlorio

Mary Jo DeFlorio is a woman of action. “Just do it” is the advice she gives young women looking to enter STEM2D fields. And it’s not hard to see what drove Mary Jo to overcome obstacles. Raised by a single mother who worked two jobs, Mary Jo and her siblings learned early the meanings of resilience and optimism.

Mary Jo’s interest in STEM2D began in middle school, where she had a teacher who promoted the “science of curiosity” and encouraged students to question everything. That freedom to explore the world around her allowed Mary Jo to fall in love with science. As a teenager, Mary Jo worked in a nursing home and saved up the money to attend Wayne State University, where she studied to become a Registered Dietitian. She would later pursue an M.B.A.

Today, Mary Jo is a Strategic Marketing Director at Janssen, a Johnson & Johnson company. She finds fulfillment in being part of a team that works together for the common good of patients. “There is a great sense of satisfaction in knowing that the science behind our products is intended to help people live more satisfying and higher-quality lives,” she says. She compares her team working on a product launch to watching the U.S. Navy Blue Angels fly—it’s a lot of people at the top of their game, moving in unison.

Mary Jo encourages young women to use various resources—school career counseling, internships, and job websites—to help determine their path forward. Part of the experience, she says, is realizing when a path isn’t right and choosing a new one. In other words, take action in pursuit of your dreams.