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Shakila Ashabuddin: an Interview with an Extraordinary Student
shakila gets awardShakila Ashabuddin is a fiercely driven young woman who knows what she wants.
A senior at Sonoran Science Academy-Phoenix, Shakila plans to major in medical studies at
ASU and pursue a career as a pharmacist.
“There are many reasons why I want to become a pharmacist,” Shakila says, “But becoming a
compounding pharmacist means that I have the power to create new and improved drugs and that
is what excites me. I want to be able to be a part of something innovative, and creating new
medicine is a perfect fit for me.”
Every day at SSA-Phoenix, Shakila takes advantage of all possible opportunities to tackle and
achieve the short-term goals she’s set for herself to achieve her dreams. From her participation in
FIRST Tech Challenge Robotics, Film Club, and Turkish Folk Dance Competitions, to her
academic excellence and voice of leadership in the school’s National Honors Society, Shakila is
deeply rooted in her school community.
Her freshman year, Shakila joined the Sonoran Schools Mentorship Program (SSMP),
determined to achieve a United States Congressional Medal. This national award program
recognizes students for delineating and achieving goals in the domains of personal development,
physical fitness, exploration, and community service.
shakila with her awardOn Thursday, January 25th, 2018, Shakila achieved her goal when U.S. Congressmen Raúl M.
Grijalva presented her with the Congressional Award Bronze medal. “When I finally
accomplished my goal of achieving the Bronze Medal, I felt excitement and relief because it took
a huge amount of my time and energy to do this.”
While working towards her Congressional award, Shakila began volunteering at the Maricopa
Integrated Health System’s Arizona Burn Center and she continues to volunteer there today.
“I love volunteering at the Burn Center and it has certainly helped me improve my
communications skills. When I am interacting with families who have just faced a major tragedy,
it is critical that my communications are clear, helpful, and empathetic”, Shakila says.
Shakila also worked a full time job at a pizza restaurant for two years and, more recently, she
began a job at Walgreens where she hopes to be trained as a pharmacy technician. She admits
she has over-extended herself at times, but has learned valuable lessons on the importance of
balance, self-care, and time management along the way.

When asked about the keys to her success, Shakila is quick to acknowledge the constant support
of her parents, and the inspiration she feels when she remembers her mother’s words: “Do
everything I couldn’t do in life because I didn’t have the opportunity. You do. Be thankful.”
Shakila also expresses deep gratitude towards all of her teachers, especially Havva Bircicek, her
SSMP mentor. “Mrs. Havva constantly pushed me and supported me to achieve my full
Furthermore, Shakila views the school’s diverse and accepting school culture as a key to her
success. “I came to SSA because of the bullying and discrimination I had experienced when I
attended another public school. At SSA, I have always felt accepted and supported.” She
admires the school’s deep respect for diversity and equality. “This school gave me a chance to be
So, what are Shakila’s next steps in the pursuit of her dreams?
This summer she hopes to become a certified pharmacy technician before attending ASU’s
downtown campus to pursue a bachelor’s degree in medical studies.  She has been accepted to ASU's Barrett Honors College with a full scholarship
“When I think about the future, I am most excited about being able to help people and see how
much of a positive impact I can have on people's lives,” Shakila says. “Hopefully when I become
a compounding pharmacist, I will be able to benefit many people with medicines that will
improve their lives.”
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1489 W. Elliot Road, Suite # D103
Gilbert, AZ 85233

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