University of Kentucky | 2016
Hometown : Westland, MI
Currently : Pharmacist / Resident
Self-described : Passionate, resilient, loyal
Enjoys : Exercise, hiking, camping, fishing, driving
My biggest challenge in college was the distance from family and friends.
Tell us about yourself!
I’m very passionate about learning and clinical pharmacy practice. My educational path and career have saved my life and allowed me to save and improve the lives of others. Prior to college I worked with my grandfather for his basement and foundation construction business, which was based near my hometown. I moved a lot growing up - I went to more than 20 schools. We moved throughout Michigan, Ohio, and Kentucky, but Westland (a suburb of Detroit) will always be home.
Greatest source of inspiration
My mother was diagnosed with cancer when I was 15. It was stage IV and we were told to prepare for the loss of her life. She wouldn’t let me go to any of her doctor appointments, but she did let me go with her when she got chemotherapy treatments. At these appointments, the pharmacist was very hopeful about her response to the chemo and eventually she went into remission. I was able to learn about her medications and understand how and why they helped her. It motivated me to learn and know more about what exactly was going on.
Later in my teenage years I landed myself in an emergency department a few times. One time was particularly traumatic and, while I was there, I saw a pharmacist helping the ER physicians care for me. It was the worst day of my life and he helped make it significantly better. I decided that I wanted to help people and patients on the worst days of their lives and help give them another chance. The patients in emergency medicine are particularly vulnerable and in need. I thought that helping them would be incredibly rewarding.
Major / Minor
My favorite thing going into college was having a stable and relatively predictable community to grow in. I had grown up in a very unstable environment so even the dorms offered me an opportunity to be in control of my life and learning.
Least favorite thing
Finances were always challenging. Going through college, I had to learn a lot of things the hard way, like buying books from the bookstore instead of online. It also got lonely during pharmacy school since everyone I knew came from a more advantaged background. The people I spent most of my time around were often difficult for me to relate to.
My study schedule varied but it was relatively intense. Most days I would go to class from 8-12 and study from 1-6 Monday through Friday. Then on Saturdays I would study from 11am to 8 pm and I tried to take Sundays off. At least one day a week to decompress exponentially improved my time spent studying the rest of the week. I’m a strong believer in taking one day every week completely off and to yourself. In pharmacy school we took 22 credit hours or more and most semesters I took 24 credit hours per semester.
For those of you who don’t quite know yet, 12-15 credit hours is considered full time for most students in undergrad. However, I didn’t start like this and it took years of patience and persistence to be able to study that much every day. I would encourage students to start low and go slow. I started college at 12 credit hours and increased it to 14 my second semester. Then at the end of my second year I increased it to 16. As my study habits improved, I became more efficient with my time. In the beginning, plan to study 4 hours a week for each credit hour that you take (for example: 4 hours/week x 12 credit hours = 48 hours/week of studying).
Tell us about a challenge you faced in college. How did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge in college was feeling lonely. Eventually, you may find yourself leaving people you love behind.
I graduated last year. I have no regrets about the time I put into my education, and I cherish the memories with the people I no longer get to see on a daily basis. After residency, I plan on returning home to reconnect with a lot of people. It makes living in the dorms and adjusting to a new place so much more enjoyable.
I started college with two other friends that were going to go to pharmacy school with me and it was ideal in the beginning. However, they didn’t get into pharmacy school and I had difficulty connecting with people who did because they had come from such a different background. I think keeping in touch with my good friends while I was in school and visiting each other as often as possible has been the best way for me to overcome this.
What advice would you give to your freshman-year self?
Keep a hierarchy of needs in mind. Nobody can power through everything without a good social support network. It can be hard to build that, so seek out groups and postgraduate training options where you think you’ll fit in well.
Best advice you received?
You will forget a large majority of information you learn in a lecture. Studying as soon as class ends is the most time efficient learning opportunity. This still applies today by learning as much as possible as soon as it comes up. As a resident, I’m exposed to numerous patient cases and I use this technique daily.
What's your secret for time management and productivity?
Balance. You can work hard almost every day of the week; however, having a day off per week gives you something to look forward to and it’s mentally refreshing.
How do you stay motivated?
I think of everyone I can help with my knowledge. In my field, my level of involvement and impact is limited only by what I know. I also remember that everyone is someone to somebody, and treat each patient with the best of my ability. This is applicable outside of healthcare, too. Keep your cause and end goal front and center.
Finally, keep in mind how far I’ve come, and that this really is just the beginning. The majority of people that go to and succeed in college started off much more fortunate and the challenges I faced to beat the odds motivate me.
My short term goals are to pursue a clinical pharmacy specialization in emergency medicine and eventually work in an emergency department. Further down the line, I would like to work as an adjunct professor at a college of medicine or college of pharmacy and seek further training in clinical toxicology.
I’ve worked with a wide variety of professionals at this point in my career. From medical and pharmacy students to world-class physicians and pharmacists. The people who had more difficult lives growing up are far better at what they do because of it.
College is a wonderful time to become the person you are capable of becoming. I’ve had the opportunity to get an education in one of the best universities for pharmacy in the world. When I started my college career at Wayne State University, I wouldn’t have even been accepted into an undergraduate program like the one I graduated from with my Doctor of Pharmacy degree. Enjoying life is a lot easier when you have had to go through difficult challenges to get there.
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