A trio of siblings from Maricopa are making waves in the world of science.

Sarah, Jonathan and Adam Fish are pursuing their PhDs in biological sciences after flying through their undergraduate studies at Arizona State University.

For the past four years, the siblings have been on the same trajectory — whether writing lab reports at home or walking across the graduation stage. However, it was 19-year-old Adam who paved the way for his younger siblings.

“I was, in some ways, the one who started this whole thing,” Adam said.

Adam’s academic journey began at Maricopa High School, where he found his passion for science in anatomy class.

“I just really grew to love the field,” Adam said. “Most of my motivation comes from how much I love learning.”

After his sophomore year, Adam took the Accuplacer, a placement test for community college, and received an irresistible offer from Sequoia Choice, which agreed to pay for his college classes if he attended through them.

“I placed into high enough classes,” Adam said. “So, I made the transition.”

Encouraged by Adam’s success, Jonathan, 17, and Sarah, 16, also took the Accuplacer and tested into the same classes.

All three siblings decided to start school at the same time and attended Sequoia Choice Arizona Distance Learning from 2019-2021, taking advantage of concurrent enrollment to get a jump start on their college curriculum.

They navigated online school and advanced courses, transferring to Arizona State in 2021 to finish their bachelor’s degrees.

Adam, Jonathan and Sarah found their footing at the four-year university.

“I kind of got thrown into this,” Sarah said. “But I got motivation as I was going along.”

“And over time, I became really interested in science and I’ve become really passionate about it over the few years,” Jonathan added. “So now I’m excited to progress in the field.”

Siblings Jonathan, Adam and Sarah Fish work on a biology experiment inside a classroom of the Life Sciences building at the ASU Tempe Campus on April 26, 2023.

The ‘science’ of success
On May 12, the Fish siblings reached a major milestone in their academic careers as they walked across the stage at ASU to receive their bachelor’s degrees in Biological Sciences.

While all three siblings shared an interest in biology, they each had a different area of focus: Adam specialized in genetics, Jonathan developmental biology and Sarah cell biology.

They each found different passions through-out their continuous 18-credit semesters and found their footing in their respective fields.

“In my genetics class, we actually made a plant glow,” Adam said. “We genetically engineered a plant and made it express a glowing protein.”

Sarah’s interest piqued in cell biology and physiology.

“At first, it doesn’t seem like there’s much to know about a cell,” she said. “But once you get into these classes, you realize they have all these signaling pathways and then all the other classes seem to build from there.”

For Jonathan, his developmental biology class was a turning point.

“That’s kind of when everything started to click,” he said. “Seeing the process of cells on a micro scale is just really cool too.”

All in a day’s work
The Fish siblings are no strangers to a busy schedule. Between lectures, lab reports, research, homework and exams, their daily routines are jam-packed.

But that is not all — they are also paying for most of their education out of their own pockets.

Outside Adam’s $40,000 Presidential Scholarship from Sequoia Choice and a $2,500 scholarship Sarah received, the teenagers are carrying the financial burdens of their educations.

To tackle student loans and tuition bills, Adam, Jonathan and Sarah work at Copper Sky Recreational Center.

Sarah started working as a lifeguard last year and is now becoming a swim instructor. Jonathan has been a lifeguard and instructor for over a year and just got promoted to head guard, while Adam has been the head guard the last three years.

While they try to limit their working days to Saturday and Sunday, it is safe to say the Fish do not get much free time.

More times than not, their day starts before the sun comes up, traveling together to Tempe almost daily, preparing for hours of schoolwork on campus.

“Sometimes we have to head out to school at 5:30 in the morning,” Adam said. “Then we have our labs that we’ll do that are 3-4 hours, some lectures, then we can start to drive home.”

Accounting for rush-hour traffic, they don’t get home until 6 p.m., making 12-hour days the norm.

Siblings Jonathan, Adam and Sarah Fish talk while sitting outside the University Club building on the ASU Tempe Campus on April 26, 2023.

Luckily, each semester, the siblings try to take the same classes, which provide built-in study partners, carpooling and lab groups.

“It’s really useful actually,” Jonathan said. “Plus, we all live in the same house; we get to talk about science at the dinner table.”

“I think at this point, our parents have grown to accept the weirdness,” Adam added.

Planning for PhD, medical school
Following their recent graduation, the Fish siblings are already working toward their next goal.

While all three say medical school is their end goal, they are pursuing doctoral degrees as an ambitious “back-up plan.”

Adam and Sarah are jumping into graduate school this August, hoping to secure their degrees within the next three years.

“I’ve become more and more interested in some of the biochemistry fields and research aspects,” Adam said. “So, I’m hoping to get my PhD in that field.”

Sarah hopes to get a doctorate in development, continuing her education from her undergraduate career.

In the meantime, Jonathan will be serving a two-year mission with his church, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and saving up some money.

Long-term, education remains a priority for Jonathan.

“Right now, I want to get a job, pay off my student loans,” he said. “And then following my mission, I want to get my PhD.”

Considering their fast-paced nature, the future of the Fish siblings is always evolving. But their unwavering determination is a testament to their potential to succeed in any pursuit.

Fish family
When it comes to the Fish family, Adam, Jonathan and Sarah are not the only ones who fell into the sciences — it is an integral part of their family conversation.

Their two older sisters are nurses, and the oldest Fish brother works in biology and obtained his degree in Biological Sciences. Adam said he drew a lot of inspiration from his older brother, wanting to learn more about his studies and findings.

And as time went on, biological sciences were not only the study of life, but became the Fish’s way of life. Even in his limited free time, Adam said he likes to apply his knowledge to his daily life, trialing old experiments and even producing his own.

From making the grass in his front yard glow, to turning latex gloves into hot sauce, he said he has endless ideas that are stirring in his mind.

“If I could do anything with more time,” he said, “I would just kind of mess around more with knowledge that’s I’ve learned at school.”


Photos by Monica D. Spencer/InMaricopa. | This content was previously published in the June issue of InMaricopa Magazine.