Outstanding Islander Graduate Alana Mangan ‘22 Earns Bachelor’s Degrees in Biomedical Sciences and Chemistry

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – On Dec. 10, Alana Mangan ’22 will earn not just one, but two bachelor’s degrees from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. The extraordinary feat was accomplished while maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA and being a member of the Islanders Women’s Soccer team.

For her superior academic performance, Mangan was selected as the TAMU-CC College of Science Fall 2022 Outstanding Islander Graduate.

Mangan says she chose to simultaneously pursue a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences and a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry after a family medical crisis – her older sister Maura’s battle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Maura was diagnosed with ALL when she was only 22 months old. Mangan, who was born shortly after Maura’s diagnosis, donated stem cells to help save her sister’s life.

“Maura’s strength and endurance during the early years of our lives defined the approach of my own journey,” Mangan said. “The quality of care and advanced treatments that saved her inspired me to pursue biomedical sciences and chemistry so that I could learn more and aid in the future of medicine.”

Mangan selected Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi not just for its rigorous academic programs but also to play Division I soccer for Islanders Women’s Soccer. Mangan was a recipient of the National Collegiate Athletic Association scholarship, a prestigious scholarship awarded to less than 2% percent of student athletes.

“I dreamed of playing college soccer since I was a kid and was committed and willing to make the sacrifices to take me to this level,” Mangan said. “Being a member of an NCAA division I soccer team has taught me a number of valuable life lessons beyond just winning and losing – It taught me teamwork, discipline, humility, integrity, time management, and more.”

Mangan has also served the Island University as a peer tutor at the Center for Student Academic Achievement and as a member of the Conni and Jay Wise L.E.A.D. Program. In addition, she is an active participant and volunteer at her local Catholic church.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, clinical experiences were limited for pre-health care students, which led to Mangan searching for alternative avenues for learning. Under the supervision of mentor and colleague Dr. Raymond Fowler, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Mangan became an integral part of a “working group” for the newly formed Pre-Health Virtual Shadowing Program. The online platform allows practitioners around the world to present information about training, experience, and clinical journeys to pre-healthcare students. Within the first 95 weeks of the program, 95 live sessions representing approximately 200 hours of online virtual shadowing experiences were broadcast, reaching more than 60,000 pre-healthcare students from 36 nations.

Mangan’s work on the virtual platform resulted in a pending lead author publication to “Humanities and Social Sciences Communication” on a submission titled “The Implementation of Online Virtual Clinician Contact to Provide Pre-Healthcare Shadowing Opportunities.”

“Alana is truly remarkable. She is so diligent and hardworking and has a special grace which underlies her phenomenal successes to date,” Fowler said. “She has directly touched the lives of tens of thousands of students who reflect the future of health care, and we are all so much better for her willingness to serve.”

Mangan also gained significant hands-on experience during her time as a laboratory researcher alongside Dr. James Silliman, TAMU-CC Associate Professor of Chemistry. In Silliman’s lab, Mangan conducted microlayer studies in Corpus Christi Bay to help predict the occurrence of harmful algal blooms and presented her findings at the TAMU-CC Spring 2022 Student Research Symposium and the Gulf of Mexico Research Conference in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

“Alana learned the field and lab methods quickly and was instrumental in helping my graduate student finish up his research,” Silliman said. “Alana is currently the senior researcher in my lab. She has also worked as a chemistry tutor on our campus. Alana is a mature student, is genuinely interested in helping others, and always gives 150% to projects she works on.”

As she counts down her days to graduation, Mangan is now focused on earning admission to medical school. In the future, she hopes to become a physician in the United States Navy.

“My goal is to continue to be a lifelong learner and improve the lives of others,” Mangan said. “Although I don’t yet know whether I will be across the country serving impoverished areas, helping victims injured in combat, or assisting victims of natural disasters, I know I’ll be answering my call.”