Graduate ambassador spotlight: Tiara Hinton

The Graduate School is featuring eight students and their unique paths through higher education. The essay below is written by Tiara Hinton, a Ph.D. student in pharmaceutical sciences in the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

When Hinton is not in the lab, her passion is art. Using acrylic paint, she created this piece called “Home," a recreation of a family photo.

One thing I learned early while attempting to plan my future was flexibility. When I started my undergraduate journey, I set out to major in biochemistry, then go to medical school—neither of those happened. Alternatively, I decided to pursue a degree in chemistry at Morgan State University. During my matriculation, I was introduced to the world of research and became a member of the Research Training Initiative for Student Enhancement (RISE) Program, a program geared toward graduate school training and research. It was not until the end of my junior year that I realized I would much rather continue scientific research than go to medical school. I had realized that the thing I was most intrigued by—aiding in the curing or treatment of illnesses deemed incurable—would not be obtainable through medical school, but through research and discovery.

My next step was determining what my degree would be in. I narrowed my program options down to medicinal chemistry and pharmaceutical sciences and applied to multiple universities in addition to Wayne State. Although I was accepted to a number of them, I was surprised to be sought out by who would become my research advisor here at Wayne State. Timothy Stemmler, Ph.D., invited me to join his lab, which fell within my desired career field. The Stemmler Lab studies iron-sulfur cluster assembly proteins in mitochondria as it relates to iron homeostasis and iron-processing disorders. So, I enrolled and am now a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences with a concentration in medicinal chemistry.

While graduate school is not easy, it is also not impossible. I struggled my first year. This journey takes a higher level of dedication that was not necessary for me to tap into before. The small bumps in the road I have encountered have only encouraged me to dig a little deeper and push myself to reach my goals. These were not the only obstacles I have faced, and I know they will not be the last—it’s not always about how you start, but how you finish.

Getting a Ph.D. in pharmaceutical sciences will prepare me for any of the following: a faculty position at a university, an industry position at a pharmaceutical company, a patent agent position at a law firm; it feels like my options are endless. However, by 2030, it is my hope that I am comfortably sitting as a faculty member at a university where I have my own lab and I can provide research opportunities to students, such as those that were offered to me. I have always wanted to be a doctor; soon my dream will become my reality. 

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