As a pragmatic person, Sarah Abruzzini has learned lessons both in and out of the classroom. Her degree in biomedical sciences fulfills her interest in mysteries and in being challenged.
Sarah Abruzzini is a pragmatic person. The 39-year-old grew up in the small town of Kalama, Wash. “I think there were something like 56 people in my high school graduating class,” she said. Abruzzini liked school but continuing with education after high school didn’t make much sense to her at the time. Abruzzini tried community college, but it didn’t work out. “I had to have a reason to go,” she said.
Abruzzini spent the next 10 years living and working in Longview. The then-twenty-something waitressed and did some bartending. Those jobs gave her a perspective on the lessons life can teach outside of a classroom. Abruzzini spent this decade learning, both lessons she welcomed and ones that were not so welcome.
Abruzzini enrolled in community college in her late twenties. She also started dating someone. “He was a recovering heroin addict,” said Abruzzini. “He relapsed when we were together.” Abruzzini found it difficult to stay focused on school while also trying to take care of her boyfriend.
Up to this point Abruzzini paid for school herself, but now her finances were strained with having to take care of two people. “I couldn’t go to school anymore and that was very upsetting,” she said. Abruzzini needed to make a change. She decided to join the U.S. Army Reserves. Abruzzini and her then-boyfriend eventually broke up. “We’re still friends and he’s doing well now,” she said.
Abruzzini spent six years in the reserves. It is somewhat surprising she went this route. “I don’t really like being told what to do,” she said. Still, the Reserves provided Abruzzini with valuable tools. “The military really helped me with leadership,” she said. “I like to get things done and don’t want to sit around twiddling my thumbs.”
Abruzzini left the reserves so she could prioritize school. She took a position as a quality assurance specialist at a food manufacturing facility. Abruzzini completed her associate’s degree at Tacoma Community College before coming to UW Tacoma in the fall of 2018. “My job actually pays for school which means I’ll be able to graduate debt free,” she said.
A first-generation student, Abruzzini is graduating with a degree in biomedical sciences. “I like mysteries,” she said. “I like to stay engaged mentally and I like to be challenged. The human body fulfills both of these needs.” Abruzzini plans to pursue a Ph.D. in biochemistry but is keeping her options open when it comes to a career. “I just want to be part of finding answers and solutions that help people, but I’m not particularly great with people, so I thought this would allow me to help them from afar,” she said.
A Global Honors student, Abruzzini hopes to work in a variety of settings around the world. “I really enjoyed the Global Honors classes and understanding an issue from multiple perspectives,” she said. A doctoral program is a few years away. Abruzzini needs a break from competing deadlines. This doesn’t necessarily mean she’s taking a break from education. “Getting a degree doesn’t mean you stop learning,” she said. “I think you should always be learning and adding to your knowledge.”
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