Though her parents never finished high school before immigrating here from Iraq, there was never a question that Miranda Yousif would go to college. “They always put a priority on my education,” she says.

What they hadn’t counted on was Miranda deciding to pursue a double major in microbiology and neuroscience. Currently a sophomore at Arizona State University, she wants to eventually earn a Ph.D. and a medical degree and so she can become a practicing physician and do clinical research.

“I plan to be in school for quite some time,” she laughs. “That is a daunting prospect, but exciting.”

Miranda credits the Earn to Learn scholarship for enabling her to pursue her ambitious academic goals. “I would not have been able to do a double major without the Earn to Learn scholarship, which I can use to take summer classes. That allows me to get ahead and take a load off my schedule the rest of the year.”

Miranda originally started saving with Earn to Learn before her freshman year at ASU. After she took a part-time job doing basic laboratory research at ASU’s Biodesign Institute, she discovered a passion for investigating and answering questions.

“I love it. I’m learning to think like a scientist,” she says. She works in the infectious diseases lab on tissue culture techniques for typhoid fever. She recently presented her research at the AZBio Awards Symposium.

Between Earn to Learn, her President Barack Obama Scholars Program, and her job at the lab, she expects to receive her undergraduate diploma in 2020 debt-free. She understands that financing medical school may require her to eventually take on some debt, but she credits Earn to Learn with teaching her how to make wise financial decisions in the future.

“I am getting so much more out of it than a scholarship,” she says.

Initially intimidated by Earn to Learn’s pre-application financial education requirements, she now calls the experience “incredibly rewarding.”

“I’ve always been a planner, but I don’t think I had fully thought about what it would take to finance my education.”

She says having the Earn to Learn scholarship is to be constantly reminded of fundamental financial concepts and the importance of thinking things through.

“It helps me be mindful of how my current financial decisions will affect my long-term plans,” she says. “Earn to Learn taught me to consider the impact of my decisions, whether that’s financial or what classes I’m taking.”

Earn to Learn has taught me how to finance my education, how to be independent and responsible, how to prepare for the unexpected challenges, and how to be flexible and adapt.”

Especially helpful was advice about how to look for resources to help her maximize her education, such as networking and finding the Student Services building at ASU. “I didn’t know just how helpful those people could be.”

“One blink and your undergrad is over,” she says. “That’s why it’s important to make good decisions now and get the most of it.”

Miranda is certainly making the most of her college experience.

An active and involved student, Miranda is president of ASU Science Detectives, where she volunteers teaching elementary school students fundamental science principles. She loves the idea that she’s helping “build the next generation of scientists.”

She also has a fellowship as a mentor for the Truth Initiative, working to devise community-outreach strategies for tobacco-use prevention, and is active with campus Greek life as a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority.

Miranda enjoyed being on Earn to Learn’s First-Year Panel in September and found it rewarding to share what she has learned with incoming students.

Her advice?

First, stay organized. Balancing academics, volunteering, and work isn’t easy. “I live by my planner,” she says.

Second, “Don’t let your mental health fall through the cracks.” She makes a point to regularly turn off her phone and log out of her email. She also makes sure she schedules wellness time for herself to go to the gym, watch a movie or do other activities to relax and clear her mind.

She is grateful to Earn to Learn and its funders, who make so many different students’ dreams possible. “For some, it is simply the opportunity to go to college they didn’t know they had. For others like myself, it is a phenomenal opportunity to maximize my undergrad experience.”

Earn to Learn is truly making education possible for a diversity of students and their goals,” she says. “You are paving the path for the next generation of learners.”

Though student experiences vary, she says the impact is the same. “Every one of us deserves a chance to go to college.”

Posted 12.21.17