“November-Two-Five, you’re clear for takeoff. Clear for takeoff, November-Two-Five. Good day!”

From directing jets in the sky in the United States Air Force Reserve to delving into stem cell biology, Ciara Mimms, who is graduating with her master’s degree in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine from USC in December, describes her life as “coming full circle.”

From an early age, Mimms has had a passion for science, which germinated from a curiosity about medicine. As she grew older, her career interests shifted from medicine to air traffic control to military reserves and many other fields. However, her inquisitive nature eventually steered her back toward medicine.

Constantly surrounded by the structured conformity of the military, she’s always been drawn to the self-expression and individualism accessible through fashion, cosmetics and beauty, which led her to an interest in plastic surgery.

So as a first-generation college student, she earned a bachelor’s degree in health science for pre-professionals from Arizona State University.

After graduating, Mimms was perusing the many different degree programs offered by USC when she stumbled across the master’s program in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine.

“I knew as soon as I read the title that this was for me,” Mimms said.

Due to military duty conflicts in the fall, Mimms began her master’s program journey in spring 2018.

“The G.I. bill has made this dream come true and I am truly grateful for the opportunity,” said Mimms, who has a current appointment in health care administration while cross-training in air traffic controlling.

When not fulfilling her military responsibilities or studying for exams, Mimms enjoys travelling to destinations such as China, Canada, Honduras, Thailand and many other unique places. She also has a passion for community outreach and civil service, and aids in family counseling for AmeriCorps.

When asked where she hopes to be in 10 years, she said, “I hope to have completed my residency while also serving my country as an air traffic controller.”

— Chase Bowen