ASU biology grad pursues her passion for law
Natalie Azar reflects on her experiences in the prestigious Arizona Legislative and Government Internship Program
Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2021 graduates.
In 2018, Natalie Azar started her journey at Arizona State University with an interest in pursuing a career in dentistry. After taking a course on bioethics, she found herself becoming increasingly interested in biology law and policy.
“That course really opened my mind to a new side of biology and medical professions,” Azar said. “I found it really important to educate patients on their rights. Studying chemistry and biology, my major has always directed me to going into the medical profession and the more technical aspect of it. But that class really opened my eyes to a new side of it and really got me interested in law.”
Over the the last three years, Azar continued taking bioethics courses and last fall she applied for the Arizona Legislative and Government Internship Program, a competitive universitywide program that provides students the opportunity to intern at a state agency, the Arizona State Legislature, the governor's office or the Arizona Supreme Court.
To her surprise, she was selected for the prestigious internship and has served as the lead intern for the Republican House of Representatives’ Caucus since January.
“I got an email about the internship and when I saw how hands-on the work was, I decided to apply because I think hands-on work is really important. For me to transition from biology and taking labs, to more of the government/politics route, was nice for me to be able to work hands-on in the field,” she said. “It was definitely unexpected, but I've been loving the experience, and I've met the most amazing people.”
In her role, Azar works with the education and the health and human services committees for the house majority for the Arizona House of Representatives. Her day-to-day tasks include attending stakeholder meetings, making agendas, setting meetings and researching upcoming bills.
This spring Azar will graduate with her bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from the School of Life Sciences in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She shared about her journey, her postgraduation plans and advice for new students.
Question: Why did you choose ASU?
Answer: ASU was the right school for me because it's just such a diverse environment. There are so many different people you can meet and learn from, so many different teachers that have come from all over the place that you can learn from. There are a lot of resources that you can utilize when going to ASU. I also love living in Arizona — I've grown up here — so it's nice that it’s so close to home.
Q: Did you experience any obstacles along your way? How did you overcome them?
A: Transitioning from being predental to the political sphere was a challenge. Even before attending ASU, I always thought I wanted to go into dentistry. So for me to switch over to a new field was definitely a transition. I've just tried to stay open-minded and learn through all the experiences and through all my classes. I considered switching my major to something in the law field because I thought my biology major wouldn't prepare me for anything. Now I realize it prepared me so much and I've learned so much through my major and gained so many skills that I would have never gotten if I had taken a political science or economics major. I'm really glad that I took the biology major. I learned so much through it and it really strengthened me as a worker.
Q: What advice would you give to new students in The College?
A: I would definitely say take advantage of all the academic resources ASU offers. I used the writing center, the tutoring center and the career center. Even just applying for this internship, I went to so many meetings to review my resume and do mock interviews. I've done prelaw advising, prehealth advising and I talked regularly to my academic adviser. There's a lot of resources that ASU offers to students so take advantage of it. These resources really allow you to cater your experience to you, and you can really make your experience at ASU exactly what you want.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: I want to take a year off to work and I would love to work somewhere in the field, maybe as a legal assistant, just to really learn and have that knowledge going into law school. I also think it's great to just have professional experience and take some time off to really appreciate going back to school. I’ve started studying for the LSAT, so my plan is to take the LSAT and start applying to law schools.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish in 10 years?
A: In 10 years I would definitely love to graduate from law school. I'm not sure exactly what field I would like to go into, but I just like to be able to mentor the incoming students because I've been mentored through this experience and I’d love to be able to give back to my community.