AUBURN, AL (WSFA) - Tuesday students will be headed back to class at Auburn University. For Edidong Umoren, one of the newest AU students, this is another step in her journey of fulfilling her life's calling which is finding a cure for Sickle Cell Disease.
Edidong Umoren says it was a story her mother shared with her at age 6 that helped her decide what she wanted to be when she grew up.
"I remember how heart broken she was. You know how parents are. They want to conceal a lot of their pain, but I felt hers," said Edidong Umoren.
Edidong learned her mother had lost three of her brothers to Sickle Cell Anemia. This inherited disorder causes some of a person's red blood cells to become sickle-shaped and rigid. They can get stuck in small blood vessels causing a painful crisis and more.
"I know that a lot of people are battling this. It is a terrible disease," said Umoren. "I am wanting to be a game changer. My goal is to stem the proliferation of sickle cells in human beings."
With a Bachelors in Chemistry from the University of West Georgia the 22-year-old Nigerian native is now gearing up to begin graduate school at Auburn's Harrison School of Pharmacy.
"A lot of people tell me being in Pharmacy School and research is getting myself in a whole different battle. I know I am willing to do this because I believe that is what I am here for," said Umoren.
Her goal of becoming a research pharmacist is now closer to becoming a reality. She sees being able to develop a drug to cure this disease not only as an opportunity to help others and honor her late uncles.
"I didn't get to see them in their fight, but I heard plenty of stories where I feel connected to them. That is what I am fighting for. I am not just trying to find a temporary solution, but a permanent one," said Umoren.
Auburn's Harrison School of Pharmacy is ranked among the top 20 percent of all pharmacy schools in the U.S.