Southeast Missouri State University senior Taylor King can’t wait for the moment when she crosses the stage for her diploma at the University’s commencement ceremonies tomorrow, May 14.
“I’ve been thinking about this day since I was a little girl and now that it’s here it’s surreal,” King said “I’ve put in countless hours to accomplish my goals. My mom has three degrees herself, so that motivated me to push through the hardships. My mom is my role model, so it makes me feel great to know that I am following in her footsteps making her proud.”
Taylor, of St. Louis, Missouri, will graduate from Southeast with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry, biochemistry option.
Taylor started her higher education journey at another institution but found her stride at Southeast when she transferred during her junior year.
“I chose Southeast because of its graduation rate, enrollment being under 15,000 students, and a good student to faculty ratio, which meant I had better opportunities for making one-on-one connections with professors,” she said.
Those opportunities included being part of the TRIO/McNair Scholars Program, which allowed her to work one-on-one with faculty mentors, complete a rigorous but rewarding research project, and learn how to navigate continuing her education in graduate school.
With her undergraduate degree complete, her next steps are attending University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) School of Pharmacy, where she will pursue two graduate degrees, a Doctorate of Pharmacy and Master of Business Administration.
FIVE QUESTIONS ABOUT TAYLOR’S EXPERIENCE
What inspired you to pursue a degree in chemistry and a career as a pharmacist?
Always having an interest in science and math led me in the direction to pursue a career within STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). After speaking with family and friends, I decided I wanted to pursue a career in pharmacy. I decided the pharmacy profession was best for me because I have a passion for improving the health and well-being of others. It is also extremely important to improve diversity in STEM-related fields to help better advocate for the underserved communities. A pharmacist’s job is much more than dispensing medications, I want to be a part of a team of healthcare professionals who work together to provide the best care to all patients.
How did being TRIO/McNair Scholar impact your higher education journey?
The Southeast TRIO/McNair Scholars Program provided me several opportunities throughout my journey here. Being a McNair Scholar provided enhancement workshops, preparation for graduate school, a summer research experience with a faculty mentor, and presenting research at regional and national conferences. The opportunity to conduct research in this program was helpful for my future and degree because it taught me how to network, explore different careers paths, develop relationships, cultivate an understanding of research design and methods, and develop a range of transferable skills.
My research project was to analyze the chemical characterization of “fat burner” supplements from reputable sources and discover if the components listed on the labels were in them or if they contained hidden active ingredients that could be harmful. I chose this topic because dietary supplements are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as food, not drugs, which means their safety and effectiveness are unknown. I also enjoyed participating in the McNair Heartland Conference, which is where I got to present my research.
How have your experiences at Southeast prepared you for a career after graduation?
My experiences at Southeast prepared me for a career and pharmacy school in so many aspects. The knowledge I’ve gained in classes and labs was the foundation needed to succeed in a career as a biochemist, researcher, laboratory assistant or a professional student in pharmacy school.
What are you looking forward to at the UMKC School of Pharmacy?
I’m looking forward to building more knowledge within my career field. I’m also excited to get out in the field, completing IPPE (Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience) and APPE (Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences) throughout my journey of pharmacy school. Those experiences in the field will help me discover what path of pharmacy I’d like to pursue and provide knowledge of day-to-day pharmacy functions. They will also help me network and make connections for possible mentorship while in school.
What are your personal and professional goals after graduation?
I would like to start an organization for youth that would help them learn about pharmaceuticals, STEM subjects, careers, networking skills, and provide scholarships. Being a member of an organization at my previous university, I realized how much we needed women in STEM careers through every volunteer experience we did with the youth. Children need to see people like them in every career path, which is why I want to help make a difference in STEM fields.