Class of 2022 Reflections: Sammie Harker

Published on 01 May 2022

Samantha Harker, an 18-year-old University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis senior, will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Medical Humanities this May.

Originally from Anaheim, California, Harker will be moving to Tempe, Arizona this fall to pursue her Doctor of Philosophy in Neuroscience at Arizona State University (ASU).

“I am very interested in neuroscience and biology,” Harker stated. “I love learning about the brain and working in research.”

Harker will also graduate this spring with a Bachelor of Arts in English from ASU. She enrolled in the spring of 2021 through the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, an undergraduate scholarship program sponsored by ASU and Starbucks.

“Writing is another passion of mine,” Harker explained. “My English courses at ASU perfectly supplemented the science education I received at UHSP.”

In her free time, Harker enjoys running, playing piano, journaling, walking her dog, reading and studying art.

Why did you choose UHSP for your college experience?

I toured the University before officially enrolling, and I loved how welcoming everyone was. I love the atmosphere of St. Louis, as well as the coursework, students and staff at UHSP. The classes were exactly what I was looking for, and I was so excited that everything had a scientific emphasis.

What will you miss the most from your time here?

My favorite thing about the University includes the classes, the professors, the student cohort and the activities. I think I will miss being in classes and the activities with my friends the most.

My favorite memory is the Student Research Symposium. Many of my friends presented at the event, so we got to experience our first symposium, in person, together. Dr. Jellen also brought his snake, Meatball, which was another highlight!

Another one of my favorite memories was the snow day and jumping in the snow with my friends.

What does graduation mean to you? How do you feel as this milestone approaches?

Graduation is extremely nerve-wracking for me. I did not expect to be graduating college at 18 years old and it feels strange to be “done” with undergraduate education.

To me, graduation is representative of all my hard work and a reward for the challenges I have faced along the way. As this milestone approaches, I am very excited for the next stage of my life, but also sad that my chapter at UHSP is closing.

What are your plans after graduation?

After graduation, I will move back to my hometown in California to continue working at Starbucks and complete an internship at the Sharon Disney Lund Medical Intelligence & Innovation Institute (MI3) at Choc Hospital.

This fall, I will move to Arizona to start my Ph.D. in Neuroscience at ASU. I am set to lead a project on how genetics influences brain structure, function and behavior in adults with autism.
What are your hopes for the future?

I hope that I can continue to learn about neuroscience and make more time for reading and writing. I want to finish writing my book and publish more research work in the future!

What advice do you have for new students just starting their college journey?

I would advise new students to stay in contact with your advisor and talk to your professors. In terms of advisors, planning classes can be challenging, and by staying in contact with them, you can stay on top of your coursework. By being communicative with your professors, you can better understand what is being asked in class and improve your ability to perform on exams and labs.


Harker notes that she is thankful to UHSP staff and faculty for supporting her in her journey at the University, specifically Kim Hill, director of academic support; Jean Escudero, PhD, associate professor of microbiology; Bob Zebroski, PhD, professor of history; and David Waters, PhD, assistant professor of physics.

“I worked with Kim Hill in planning and organizing UHSP’s first ever TEDx event, and she is one of the most amazing individuals I have had the pleasure of working with at UHSP,” Harker gushed. “I am thankful to Dr. Escudero for helping me figure out my pathway and for her encouragement. I am thankful to Dr. Zebroski for his ‘sermons’ and genuinely caring about his students and their role as health care professionals. Thank you to Dr. Waters for encouraging me in physics and helping me improve!”

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