ASU grad follows passion to give back through health care

ASU Online student Sarah Pinson

Sarah Pinson


Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2019 commencement.

Although Sarah Pinson is a born and raised Texan from Fort Worth, she has a brand new, global outlook on life — all thanks to her experience at ASU.

Pinson has always been passionate about health care, and through earning her degree in Applied Science of Health Sciences, she’s one step closer in her professional journey to becoming a physician assistant. She can still remember the very moment that inspired her career — a simple interaction with a patient that just “clicked” for her, when the patient recognized her in the hospital from her previous work during clinical rotations. In that moment Pinson knew that she could make a difference in someone’s life, even for just a small amount of time by showing care and compassion for those in need.

It was during her ASU study abroad program to Iceland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway where her point of view totally changed. A professor helped guide her and open her eyes to other cultures, which changed her outlook forever. She’s now approaching her local work with a global outlook that she wouldn’t have had without this life-changing experience.

This December Pinson will be celebrating her hard-earned degree, but she’s not stopping there. Next, she has her sights set on PA school, and she plans to apply across the nation to several PA programs to continue her health care career journey.

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

Answer: My "aha" moment was before attending ASU, when I was working as a part time employee at the hospital where I had my clinical rotation. I remember an interaction that I had with a patient who I had seen before as a student and they remembered me, it was then that the feeling of making a difference in a patient’s life, even for just a small amount of time, was so rewarding. I thought to myself that I wanted more of that feeling, to really help people when they are at their sickest and need the utmost compassion and care. I want to continue doing that and striving for myself to be able to give that in return.

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

A: Something that I learned was on my amazing opportunity to study abroad. I had the opportunity to be chosen to go on a summer long trip to Iceland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway to learn about the way that they approach health and healthcare as a culture. One of the biggest experiences I took away from that trip was how they treat the elderly when it comes their health care, and I experienced that firsthand at a LGBTQ nursing home in Stockholm, Sweden. It was almost a culture shock to see how happy and healthy many of them were compared to the few I’ve been to in America in the way that the residents acted. They were all very interactive with each of us and happy to show us their apartments and answer any of our questions. Many of the health care professionals I met there also had a firm belief that a proper, healthy diet was a great way to solve most problems.

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

A: (Lecturer) Traci Grgich, while she was never actually my professor in an enrolled class, she assisted along our Scandinavian aboard learning trip. She was able to open my eyes to another culture that was different to what I grew up in and was accustom to. The way she guided me allowed me to not only appreciate the culture, but also respect it as well by learning simple things like how to say thank you in each language. Before that experience, I never really thought about how I presented myself to another culture before, so when I went abroad again for a vacation, I was much more self aware than I would have been if I had not been on that trip prior.

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

A: It is easy to procrastinate and say to yourself, “I’ll do it tomorrow” or “It isn’t due for another four days.” I would say do not get caught up in that mindset. It is good to try to do the work as you get it or even an assignment a night. One reason is it relives the pressure of looming due dates so you can focus on other things.

Another reason is it can allow you to look back at an assignment or reading and find areas where you could improve, like better wording for a writing assignment or even get proper feedback from the professor. You can’t do those as well when you are rushing to get the assignments done last minute.

Q: As an online student, what was your favorite spot to study or to just think about life?

A: Surprisingly, in my bedroom on my bed with my dog cuddling next to me for moral support. I also had great support from my husband who would be there for when my brain would just go into a block and he would help me out of it by thinking out the box.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: After graduation, I still have more school to do. I plan to attend my mother’s alma mater here in Texas, I have a few classes to take to fulfill eligibility requirements to apply for PA school. After finishing those courses, I will be applying across the nation to several PA programs.

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

A: I think we should invest in cleaner energy. It’s no secret that the nonrenewable recourses we have on this earth like crude oil are dwindling to help keep up with our planet’s population. We need to be looking at what we can do to replace those recourses because we will run out sooner or later and that will have a drastic effect on our way of life.

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