Azra Vilic graduated from DePaul with a BS in Chemistry in 2012, and went on to get a BS in nursing in 2015 from Loyola. She is currently an ICU Nurse as Resurrection Medical Center Chicago. We had a chance to ask her some questions about her career and her time at DePaul.
How did your degree prepare you for your non-traditional chemistry career path, and how has your education at DePaul prepared you for what you are currently doing?
By the time I graduated DePaul, I found myself looking outside of chemistry. After a few laboratory position interviews, I noticed I was not as excited as I wanted to be. So I stepped back and took a risk in trying something completely different. I started working at Misericordia Home, where I helped people with mental and physical disabilities uphold and learn new skills in order to become more independent. My education at DePaul certainly helped me, not from the scientific perspective, but by reminding me of moments that I was frustrated and challenged by chemistry and that I was able to overcome those situations. I knew I wanted to work with people and helping others directly, and nursing naturally became my passion. Nursing school was a different ball game from chemistry but my scientific knowledge definitely helped me understand and process what was going on inside the human body chemically and how those interactions produced the side effects and disease. Chemistry also taught me the discipline that is needed in nursing. When I interviewed for my current position, the manager thought my background in chemistry was perfect for the knowledge and the critical thinking skills needed in order to succeed at a fast paced ICU. My education at DePaul thought me how to think critically, how to analyze every piece of information given and how multiple things need to align in order for chaos to make sense. And that is exactly how nursing works.
Looking back at your studies, what advice would I give current students to be successful?
I would tell every student to really engage themselves to make their college experience as worthwhile as possible. One of the biggest things that have helped me back in college and even today is not being afraid of seeking out new experiences, initiating interactions and resources in order to enrich your life, studies and understanding. Taking initiative in joining a club or seeking a professor in joining their research lab are great starting points and will definitely teach you more than a book can. Being responsible for your own education and experience and not waiting around for an opportunity to present itself is how you will get ahead in the world and earn respect.