Meet a talented Clarke alumna excelling in her STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) career.
Pharmacist Bridges Cultures and Advocates for Accessibility
Clarke Alumna Mariam Paracha
Mariam Paracha moved to Massachusetts from Pakistan at the age of six and began attending Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech in Northampton, Massachusetts, as a first grader in the K-8 Program. After graduating from Clarke in 2004, Mariam went on to Northampton High School where she continued to receive support from Clarke’s Mainstream Services team.
“During my time at Clarke and while in high school, I felt proficient in science and math,” remembers Mariam. “So I took AP Chemistry and AP Calculus which eventually led me to double major in biochemistry and neuroscience at UMass. Through a lab internship, I became very interested in therapies that treat novel diseases. Then I completed the doctorate in pharmacy program at MCPHS [Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences].”
Now Mariam is a post-doctoral fellow at the Center of Health and Technology and Department of Neurology at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, New York, where she investigates patterns of medication usage by participants in clinical trials and observational studies in HIV and Parkinson’s disease. She also addresses health disparities in Deaf communities and co-teaches a biology lab course at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf.
Mariam shares that her work has been affected by the pandemic. “I love networking at the University of Rochester because it helps me to achieve my goals,” she says. But once the pandemic began, “I had to learn to be productive while working at home. I like that it allows me to have flexibility, but I miss interacting with people working around me.”
In addition to her work and academic pursuits, Mariam is active with Global Deaf Muslim, an organization focusing on enhancing accessibility to Islam for individuals who are deaf. She’s also involved with Deaf Partners in Health, Inc., and has shared content to help separate facts from hearsay around helpful treatments for coronavirus.
Looking ahead, Mariam says that her ideal job is to work as a pharmacological researcher studying medications and treatments, and she partially credits Clarke for her success. “Clarke taught me how to grow in my skills, manage my time and succeed in the hearing world,” she says. “I am from Pakistan and we do not have this opportunity that Clarke offers. Without Clarke, I would not be able to successfully speak with my family. They are so thankful to be able to communicate with me.”
In addition to communicating with her family and many colleagues in spoken English, Mariam has recently learned another language as well. “I learned ASL [American Sign Language] just before I moved to Rochester. And I love the fact that I am now bilingual in English and ASL!”