Starting classes at Wright was a pretty easy choice for Anna Lisa Russell: “It’s 5 minutes from my house. I am single mom, working full-time – it worked well with my schedule.”

She started taking classes part-time when she was 26, then a year later went to full-time – while she was working full-time as the overnight pharmacy technician at a long term care pharmacy. She even found time to be vice president of the Medical Doctor/Physician Assistant Association (MDPA), president of the Pre-pharmacy Association, and part of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

She didn’t always have such a strong direction – after she graduated from Mather High School, she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do, so she decided to become a nursing assistant, following in the footsteps of her mom and brothers, who are all nurses. Getting her pharm tech license after passing the exam in 2012 helped her land her current job, which lets her go to school and still spend time with her kids.

She completed her associate in science in the fall, and now she’s just a few pre-requisites away from pharmacy school, which she hopes to start soon at UIC.

She’s excited to attend the commencement ceremony on May 5th to get her diploma.

“This is my first college degree and I’m very excited! Right now, there are three pictures on the wall at home – one of my brothers in his Navy uniform, one brother in his cap and gown, and one in his nurse’s uniform – my face will finally be on the wall! And I’m not just grad, but the salutatorian. I’m excited to be able to set this example for my kids.”

But Anna Lisa is quick to say that she didn’t reach this point on her own: “I couldn’t have gotten where I am without my family, my professors, my advisors, and even the co-workers who helped me proof read my essays when I didn’t have time to get to tutoring center. I couldn’t have done this alone.”

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