A teenager when she started law school, ASU Law dual grad looks ahead to a bright future

April 16, 2021

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2021 graduates.

At just 19, Jada Allender began her pursuit of both a JD and Master of Sports Law and Business (MSLB) degree from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. photo of Jada Allender An ASU Law student at just 19, Jada Allender has taken her passion for sports business to earning a dual JD and MSLB degree this spring. Download Full Image

From barrel racing and driving combines while growing up in Eugene, Oregon, to graduating from law school, the now 22-year-old looks forward to a promising career.

With a bachelor's degree from the University of Oregon, where she was a student manager for the football team, Allender says her passion for the industry only grew stronger when she started in the Allan “Bud” Selig Sports Law and Business program at ASU Law. Studying the legal underpinnings in sports and falling in love with corporate law led to more opportunities for Allender, who has done consulting work for sports businesses and created her own startup company.

Allender, a recipient of the Honorable Cecil B. Patterson Jr. Scholarship and the Kappes Family Scholarship, says she also took advantage of the experiential learning opportunities ASU Law offers. She completed externships at Gammage & Burnham, Greenberg Traurig, the Arizona Supreme Court, and Poli, Moon & Zane. During her summers, she worked as a summer associate at Snell & Wilmer in Phoenix, where she will be returning as an associate attorney after graduation.

And she still found time to do more.

“Beyond educational and career opportunities, ASU Law has led me to many unique experiences,” said Allender, noting when she was interviewed by the “Today” show and “NBC News” about the impact late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had on women studying the law.

Allender also competed in case competitions, served on the Corporate and Business Law Journal, was on the board of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA), completed a fellowship at the Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations, and helped ASU Law create a Public Interest Fellowship program.

“Since BLSA has many members who are passionate about giving back to the community and working in the public-interest space, we are so happy to see this fellowship initiative take hold,” Allender said in an ASU News article when the program was announced. “Many students pursue public-interest job opportunities but have to turn those offers down and accept a different position simply because the other position is paid. These fellowships will allow our students to chase their dreams in any legal field without stressing over their personal financial situation.”

Reflecting on her accomplishments while at ASU Law, Allender says she is “extremely grateful for all of the opportunities at ASU and the tremendous support I have received from faculty and staff. And, none of this would've been possible without the love and support from my amazing mother, Sarah, who made single-parenting look like a breeze.”

Question: Why did you choose ASU Law?

Answer: I chose ASU Law because of its unique dual-degree program that allowed me to earn both a Juris Doctor and Master of Sports Law and Business.

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

A: While I can't choose just one, and I've had many amazing professors along the way, Professors Andrew Carter and Rhett Larson have taught me countless things that have shaped the lawyer I hope to be.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those contemplating ASU Law, and those still in law school?

A: Find some 3Ls or recent graduates and have them explain the timeline of law school to you! I had some phenomenal TAs during my first semester of law school that helped me understand the importance of networking during the first semester and how that would impact the interviews that started in January.

Building off of that, those interviews for your first summer job can often have an impact on your second summer job or possible externships along the way. Understanding this and being prepared for the different stages of law school is a must!

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

A: That's a tough question because there are a lot of issues I'm passionate about. But if I had to pick one, it would be helping kids growing up in tough situations and providing support and a stable home. Whether it is homeless youth, youth in foster care, youth suffering from domestic abuse, or any youth in need, I would dedicate the money to supporting them and improving their situation. I attribute basically all of my success to the amazing upbringing and endless love and support I received from my mother. That kind of unconditional support and encouragement is something I wish every child had access to growing up. 

Julie Tenney

Director of Communications, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

Alumna aims to advance health care for minorities

April 16, 2021

Ashley Franco worked 10 years as a pharmacy technician while earning her bachelor’s degree in health sciences in 2015 and her Master of Science in the science of health care delivery in 2016 at Arizona State University's College of Health Solutions. Along the way she gained internship experience as a health coach for refugee women across the world and as a researcher on financial strategies for health systems, experiences that inspired her passion to help people improve their health.

Now, Franco will reach a new milestone in May when she earns a doctorate in pharmacy from Regis University in Denver. While she looks forward to using her training to improve the health of all her patients, Franco knows that her presence as a Black pharmacist will be an important part of making health care more equitable and improving health outcomes for her patients of color. Ashley Franco Ashley Franco Download Full Image

She knows because she has experienced it firsthand. She saw it while working in hospitals, when minority patients would seek her out for advice and information, and again during one of her rotations when a hospital staffer expressed delight upon seeing her as she did her rounds. “I remember she said, ‘I’m so happy you’re here. It’s so rare to see anyone from the clinical team doing rounds who looks like me,’” Franco said.

Franco also saw the rapport her own color can build while interning at Children’s Hospital Colorado in Denver. Part of Franco’s job was to review and update patients’ prescriptions and understand their medication needs before they were admitted to the hospital. One of her patients was a Black teen who she discovered was diabetic but wasn’t taking the prescribed meds because they were causing an upset stomach.

“Teenagers may have a tough time dealing with chronic health conditions, but we know if you don’t properly manage your diabetes, it can get worse,” Franco said. She offered the teen a solution — take the medication in smaller, more frequent doses with food to reduce the side effects. Franco could see the relief upon hearing the advice. “The patient opened up because they felt comfortable talking to me,” Franco recalled. “No one had ever explained those options before, and they said they were so appreciative.”

After graduation, Franco will immediately begin a PGY1 pharmacy residency as a clinical pharmacist at Denver Health Medical Center, working directly with the interprofessional clinical team to provide patient-centered medication therapy management throughout the hospital.

“I chose Denver Health for my residency because it’s a safety-net hospital, so you have the opportunity to serve a lot of low-income and minority patients,” Franco said. “If I’m working on one of the clinical units and a person of color is receiving care, that patient will see someone on staff who looks like them, and that will hopefully make it easier for us to relate to each other, and they will know I am an advocate for their care.”

Along with engendering trust, Franco knows that she serves as a role model for young people of color who may someday consider a career in health care.

“I’ve heard people say to children, ‘Hey, look, Ashley can do this, and you look just like her, so you can do this, too,’” she said.

Finally, Franco sees herself in a position to address racial bias by simply doing her work in a highly skilled, professional job. “I’m here to break down barriers,” she said. “I think that makes it all the more important for me to go out and make a difference, advocating for myself, for other Black pharmacists and for minority patients in general.”

Franco spoke with the College of Health Solutions about her ASU experience.

Question: How did the College of Health Solutions help you prepare for where you are now in your career?

Answer: During my undergrad work, ASU taught me a lot about organization and how to be a better student overall. My path wasn’t the easiest, and I had some struggles early on, but the way ASU is set up, if you struggle, someone is there to help you get back on track. I learned to keep myself motivated and be prepared for what’s coming next.

I also earned my master’s degree at ASU, and I think what I valued most was that the program taught me professionalism. This is a small example, but it’s something that I still embrace to this day. We had to wear business casual dress for class at ASU, and I still do. Professors dress up for class every day, so students should, too. It shows the level of importance we attribute to our classroom practices and our future as health care professionals.

Q: What is a favorite takeaway you picked up during your years at ASU?

A: I got my master’s degree in the science of health care delivery which I see as a cross between a master’s degree in public health and an MBA. It teaches you the intricacies and inner workings of a hospital — concepts you don’t learn when getting your doctorate in pharmacy or going to med school. I loved it because I learned about all of the different roles that health care professionals play and how impactful people can be, even when they aren’t standing at the forefront of providing direct patient care.

Q: What advice do you have for someone who wants to make a difference in the world of health?

A: My biggest piece of advice is to never think that the difference you want to make is too small. We all get stuck thinking that when we want to make a difference, it has to be something large or groundbreaking, something that’s never been done before. But then I go back to my example of the teenager at Children’s Hospital Colorado who just needed someone that could relate to their experience to help them figure out how to take their medication in a way that would minimize the upset stomach and other side effects. Small things like that can make a world of difference for another person.