HawkPride: from dual enrollment to doctorate
A 2015 Crestwood alumna, Hariri recently graduated summa cum laude, earning her doctorate in pharmacy from the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at Wayne State University in Detroit. She also earned her bachelor’s degree in health sciences from Wayne State, graduating magna cum laude.
“I was able to truly get a feel for college courses at HFC, and it helped me prepare for what was to come,” said Hariri, of Dearborn Heights. “Most high school graduates are very nervous about starting their first year of college because they don't know what to expect. It’s a different environment. Taking dual-enrolled courses allowed me to make the transition from high school to college before I even finished high school!”
She continued: “It was a great experience. Everyone was very welcoming and did not make me feel like I was an outsider because of my age. I was treated with respect by the students and faculty I encountered at HFC. I encouraged my younger two siblings to follow in my footsteps and take courses as dual-enrollment students during their high school years.”
“I was a tiny lightbulb turned on in their heads”
The second of four daughters, Hariri’s father is HFC math professor Dr. Ali M. Hariri. Like her father, Hariri was also a math tutor in HFC’s Learning Lab. He is very proud of his daughter's journey.
“When Rola was a little cute girl, I was assigned to teach in the Learning Lab at HFC,” said her father. “One day I took her with me to the Learning Lab. After a little while, she asked me, ‘Dad, what do you do here?’ I said, ‘I help students who are struggling in math classes to be successful.’ She replied, ‘When I grow up, I want to come here and help students like you do!’ In the 2014-15 school year, the little girl’s dream came true. Rola was in her last year of high school. She was completing Calculus I, and she volunteered to help students in the Learning Lab at HFC.”
“Math was always a strong subject for me, and that largely has to do with my father,” she recalled. “Having my own personal math tutor growing up allowed me to strengthen my math skills. I know math can be a struggle, and although I was fortunate enough to have my father helping me, not everyone was as fortunate. I wanted to share the wealth and help students who struggle by volunteering at the Learning Lab while in high school. It was truly a rewarding feeling when I would explain a concept to a student and the concept clicked in their mind. It’s almost like I was a tiny lightbulb turned on in their heads. It’s those specific moments that make me feel like I was making a difference.”
The most available health care personnel in the community
Given her affinity for biology and chemistry, Hariri knew she would work in the healthcare field.
“There are vast opportunities in the healthcare field, but choosing pharmacy was a no-brainer for me,” she said. “Pharmacy allowed me to incorporate my love for human physiology with my love for patient care. When I think of a patient getting sick or needing medical attention, the last step to recovery is going to the pharmacy to pick up prescriptions. Pharmacists are usually the last encounter that a patient will have on their journey to better health. I believe I am able to have the strongest impact on a patient’s health and well-being in that final encounter.”
Hariri continued: “A pharmacist is able to answer any questions the patient may have regarding their prescriptions and their health, counseling the patient on important points about their prescriptions, and recommending over-the-counter products that could further help them heal. With pharmacies being so readily available around us and being open later hours than most other healthcare facilities, pharmacists are the most accessible healthcare personnel in the community.”
She had a very positive experience at Wayne State during her undergraduate days, which made her want to enroll there for pharmacy school.
“Wayne State is a very reputable school. It’s a university with a diverse population of students. You really feel the culture there is welcoming, and everyone has something different to bring to the table. Another reason why I chose Wayne State was because it has one of the biggest medical campuses in Southeast Michigan. With the hospitals being within walking distance from the school, I was able to get real-life training in the hospital setting,” explained Hariri. “The faculty really strived to make the learning experience unique and interesting. Every lecture I attended, I felt like the faculty members really cared for our education and wanted to see us succeed. At the end of the four years, we became like a family. The connections I made during my four years in the program will be lifelong.”
This summer, Hariri will begin her residency as a pharmacist-in-training at Beaumont Hospital, Dearborn. This residency spans the course of one year, allowing her to gain more clinical experience. She will be responsible for numerous tasks, including:
- Analyzing patients to ensure they are being treated adequately with the correct medication(s) for their condition
- Monitoring patients throughout the course of their hospital stay to ensure there is an adequate response to the medication(s), and adjust them as needed
- Meeting with doctors and nurses to discuss the progress of patients and making recommendations as a member of a care team
“The units I work in range from general medical floors to ICUs. Orders that the physicians enter for a patient must be verified by a pharmacist before the med gets dispensed. As a pharmacist, I will be verifying that the order is appropriate based on patient-specific factors and will speak with the physician if I have any concerns,” said Hariri. “I enjoy the impact I have on patient care, whether it be directly answering questions or working with doctors and nurses in the hospital to make recommendations for patient care. Healthcare workers love having pharmacists around, as we are the medication experts. Our recommendations and input are very well-respected and appreciated.”
For Hariri, the most challenging part of being a pharmacist is keeping up with the new and approved medications through the Food and Drug Administration. There are so many medications, prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, and supplements in the pipeline or are being approved.
“Staying up to date on this information and looking into the literature to see how these new medications can be integrated in practice is important,” she said. “Patients are always hearing of new drugs and always have questions. Pharmacy education doesn’t stop at graduation. We are lifelong learners.”
Inspired by her father to teach
Hariri eventually hopes to return to Wayne State to teach, thanks to her father.
“Although math has very little to do with my career choice of becoming a pharmacist, tutoring in the Learning Lab really impacted my desire to become a professor in the future,” she explained. “This shows you that any opportunity, related or not, can impact your future. Had I not volunteered at the Learning Lab, I may have never known why my father loved teaching so much, and I would not have thought to follow in his footsteps in my future with pharmacy. Take every opportunity presented to you. You never know what may come of it!”
Hariri continued: “I see how happy my father gets when he finally makes a breakthrough with a student struggling with a concept or topic. I sense his enjoyment with teaching, and I want to be able to give back to pharmacy students in that same way. Having my father by my side throughout all of my math classes influenced me to want to tutor those who don’t have a parent or friend who can help them. My time at the Learning Lab really allowed me to experience that rewarding feeling my father feels as a teacher every day. He is a huge part of why I want to give back to Wayne State as a future professor in the pharmacy program.”
Ali Hariri's heart is bursting with pride. He has a message for his daughter.
“Dr. Rola Hariri, I am so proud of you,” he said. “When you were little, I used to hold you in my arms. Now that you’ve grown up, I cannot do that anymore. But remember, I’ll always hold you in my heart.”