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Outstanding Graduate, Spring 2019

Levi Louis Riley

Improving the lives of others has been a lifelong goal for Levi Louis Riley. He aspires to practice medicine and raise the standard of care in his hometown. To accomplish his goal, he knew he needed the best affordable education available to him and decided to attend Arizona State University.

Since medical school was on the horizon, Riley pursued a pre-medicine biomedical engineering degree in ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. His studies required diligence, but he set a goal, chose a path and stuck with it — pushing past difficulties and discouragements along the way.

“Engineering teaches one how to think and how to learn. It teaches the art and process of problem solving,” says Riley. “I believe the skills engineering education teaches are indispensable. They have allowed me to take my knowledge of abstract subjects and apply it to solve real-world problems.”

Riley’s education was supported by the Dr. Richard O. Flynn Pre-Medical Scholarship, the Blowers Engineering Scholarship and a New American University President’s Award, among others.

Riley had the opportunity to participate in the Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative. He worked under the mentorship of Fulton Schools Associate Professor Brent Vernon to fabricate polymer microparticles for use in drug delivery for potential metabolic stimulation and weight loss applications.

“In many ways, I am where I am scholastically and professionally, not only because of the strong influences from my father, but also the influences and mentorship from Dr. Vernon,” says Riley, an honors student in Barrett, The Honors College.

Lecturer Michael VanAuker and Professor Michael Caplan in the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering, one of the six Fulton Schools, also had an impact on Riley’s education. Through the instruction and guidance of these three professors and his father, Riley learned how to harness his inner entrepreneur and creative ability to propel forward scholastically, professionally and personally.

Last year, Riley partnered with fellow biomedical engineering students to create a startup company. The team competed and won funding at the Venture Devils’ Demo Day to aid in the development of a polymer microsphere fabrication platform to improve the way drugs are delivered to patients.

After graduation, Riley will pursue his medical degree at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix. He plans to complete a residency and any additional training in Arizona before returning to his hometown to serve his community as an orthopedic specialist.

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