Student Highlight: Siblings Tackle UArizona Pharmacy Program Together

Sets of sisters describe their experience going through pharmacy school together.
"I love having someone. I love talking to someone who is going through the same things as I am."

Many have noted the close, family-like bond felt between classmates and cohorts when going through the challenges and triumphs of Pharmacy school, but for Tasia Martin and Shelby Bedolla, and Mariam and Rana Backayah, obtaining their PharmD degree truly is a family affair. These two sets of sisters are pursuing their shared goal of becoming pharmacists with each other by their side.

Tasia Martin and Shelby Bedolla

The University of Arizona College of Pharmacy first appealed to Martin and Bedolla because of its high ranking and close proximity to home, with an added bonus that they would be able to go through the program together. “We’d been wanting to go together, so we were both so excited when we found out that we did it,” noted Bedolla. Their personal experience with illness inspired their decision to go into Pharmacy. “My mother was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was growing up and we had a very hard time finding the right medication to help her feel better,” Martin shared. “This made me want to become someone who could help people chose the right medication so they can have a better quality of life.”

Both sisters agreed that their favorite part of going through the program together is the built-in support system, but that doesn’t mean their competitive sides don’t come out every once in a while. “Shelby and I are both very competitive, so it’s in our nature to want to do better than each other,” said Martin. “It’s also hard when we disagree with each other because we aren’t afraid to let the other sibling know it.” While they share a competitive nature, they also both share pride in each other’s hard work. “Tasia is so determined. She’s gone through many challenges getting to this point in her life, and she always pushes through them. I’ve always admired her perseverance and motivation,” shared Bedolla. When asked what she believed her sister’s biggest strength was, Martin responded, “Shelby is so good about being kind to everybody. She is easy to talk to and a great friend.”

Mariam and Rana Backayah

Mariam and Rana Backayah are another set of sisters going through the program together. Coming from Iraq, Miriam Bakayah says that the hot Tucson weather was a deciding factor for her, as she is used to the heat. She remembers the day that they both received their acceptance emails. “I just heard a scream from her room. I received an email five minutes later.” Rana Backayah recalls, “I just started screaming, went downstairs to tell my mom, then I called my dad to tell him and of course they were very happy.”

Mariam Backayah admits that she is not a very talkative person, so having Rana there with her provides a feeling of comfort. “I do not have to worry about finding a partner, she is always there.” For her part, Rana Backayah says there’s no downside to having her sister in the same program. “I really like going to school with my sister.” The Backayah sisters say that being able to work together and study together is one of their favorite parts about going through pharmacy school together.

Both sets of sisters have different experiences entirely, but share the fact that they are not going through this experience alone. “I love having someone. I love talking to someone who is going through the same things I am,” says Martin.