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Biochemistry degree lays path for ASU grad to become a pharmacist

Diana Francis

Diana Francis

December 04, 2018

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2018 commencement. Read about more graduates

Diana Francis always knew she wanted to study science, but it wasn’t until she took a biology and chemistry class at Maricopa Community College that she realized a biochemistry degree from Arizona State University would be perfect for her.

While at ASU, Francis took advantage of the many opportunities from research to meeting new people and forming study groups for peer support.

Francis interned in Professor Jim Klemaszewski’s Science is Fun class. The interns in the class go to local schools and community events, as well as on-campus events like Homecoming and Open Door, and interact with K–12 students and the public through engaging, hands-on demonstrations.

“One of Diana's strengths in doing outreach is that she cares about people,” said Klemaszewski, a School of Molecular Sciences instructor. “She is able to encourage students while teaching them.”

Growing up in Iraq, Francis didn’t speak any English when she came to the U.S. in 2010 at age 13. With focus and determination, along with learning a new language, Francis was not only able to graduate high school early, she is graduating from ASU a semester early as well — all while holding down a part-time job.

Recently, Francis applied and was accepted to pharmacy school. In the fall of 2019 Francis will head to University of Arizona in Phoenix to start her Doctor of Pharmacy program. After pharmacy school, Francis hopes to be able to help take care of children working as a pharmacist in a children’s hospital.   

Question: What's a highlight, interesting moment, story or accomplishment from your ASU career?

Answer: Throughout my ASU career, I have always been a full-time student because school was my number one priority. However, this fall semester I have enrolled in 20 credit units which I feel very accomplished by. I have gratefully managed my schedule along with my part-time job in order to be successful and graduate one semester ahead of time.

Q: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in? (Might be while you were at ASU or earlier.)

A: The sciences were always a natural fit for me and I wanted to pursue it ever since high school. After taking the basic chemistry and biology classes at college, I realized that the combination of these two fields would be perfect for me. At the same time, I wanted to get my BS in biochemistry prior to entering a pharmacy program because it would provide me with a good science foundation.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective?

A: I think the fact that taking advantage of every opportunity to exceed in school is important. Working in study groups or getting help from tutoring centers have impacted me positively in many ways. 

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I always admired ASU and have many family members graduated from it as well. Since the location was close to home, I decided to choose ASU and explore and develop my science knowledge. Also, I really liked the fact that it provides many research opportunities especially for the science fields as well as providing over 1,000 clubs.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: It is really hard to pick one professor because each one of them taught me different lessons in different ways. Each professor inspired me and pushed me to the path of success.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Take advantage of every opportunity and never say it’s too early. Involving in early curriculum activities whenever you have time. College can feel very overwhelming sometimes, which is why I recommend study groups where you can interact and learn from each other.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: I would say Noble Library, 2nd floor. I have spent countless hours studying in there with friends.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I start my Doctor of Pharmacy program in fall 2019 at the University of Arizona.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: There are many things that come to mind. However, with $40 million I would invest in cancer treatment research to discover and develop medications to cure cancer. To do this, scientists in general go through a long process from discovering and creating the drug in lab to testing and approving its effectiveness on patients. 


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