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Midwestern University Chicago College of Pharmacy
Paying Homage to the Previous Historian, A Student Interview

College Connection

by Ani Bekelian, PS-3, ICHP Historian Midwestern University Chicago College of Pharmacy

In light of starting the new school year, and looking forward to the upcoming term, I thought it would be fun to pay homage to the Historian whose shoes I have the privilege of filling this upcoming year. Ziad Dabbagh was previously our student chapter’s Historian and I had the pleasure of interviewing him about his experiences in pharmacy school so far. 

(Pictured: Ziad Dabbagh)

Ziad is currently a third-year PharmD Candidate at Midwestern University Chicago College of Pharmacy. He first decided to pursue a career in pharmacy ten years ago when he was still in high school. In fact, he remarked that, “I actually still have one of my old recommendation letters from my high school chemistry teacher from when I was applying to the pharmacy program at the University of Texas straight out of high school.” At the time, he remembered, that he enjoyed learning, helping others, and “loved chemistry so naturally” that he felt a pharmacy program was a good fit for him. As things progressed, however, his life took a turn that led him down a different path. Eight years later, when he was ready to turn back to his education, he remembered all of his passion and all of the reasons he wanted to pursue pharmacy in the first place, and decided to reapply.

During his first year in pharmacy school, Ziad tried to immerse himself within campus life. When asked how he went about choosing which clubs to be a part of, he remarked that he would attend a lot of organizational meetings that were advertised and decided to join those that he liked or found interesting. According to Ziad, “I chose the Illinois Council of Health-System Pharmacists (ICHP) because they seemed to be progressive and involved at the state level.” When asked what drew him specifically to the Historian position within the MWU-ICHP student chapter during his second year, he reminisced, “I was looking for a position which would allow me to exercise my writing and create memories. There is a lot of jargon in pharmacy and [the Historian position] seemed like an outlet to contribute without the pressure of memorizing medical terminology.”

Through his time as the ICHP Historian, and participating in other organizations such as the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP) and the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), he mentioned that while some experiences have taught him how to better manage his time and balance his extracurricular activities with the rigorous curriculum, others have been more inspirational in nature. For example, Ziad talked about his involvement in AMCP being the catalyst that led him to enter the Pharmacy & Therapeutics (P&T) competition during this past year.

When asked to reflect about his experiences thus far, and how these experiences may apply to his practice after graduation, Ziad was honest about not knowing what the future holds in terms of his career. However, he felt that “obtaining a better understanding of the work around you and seeking knowledge and being informed is never a bad thing. At the very least I hope I have [through his leadership roles] obtained a more open mindset and hope this helps me approach problems from different angles with a greater understanding, perspective, and empathy.”

Looking to the upcoming academic year, I asked Ziad how he hoped to be involved as a third-year pharmacy student. In response, he answered that he planned to start his year being less involved in terms of organizations and “focusing more of my energy on things that are important to me in my personal life, and spending more of the time I spent seeking where to be involved with more focus, effort and direction.” But while he does plan on focusing more on his personal interests this year, he did mention that he looks forward to being able to attend some APhA meetings as a general member, as his extracurricular engagements last year had prevented his full involvement. 

In the final minutes of our interview, I asked for his advice to the incoming Historian. In response, he said that the biggest thing that I could do was “take it easy.” At the end of the day, Ziad came to realize that being an e-board member “shouldn’t complicate your life or stress you out more than classes do; realize that there are deadlines, but don’t let them affect you negatively. This is a club and it is meant to be fun.” I hope to take his words with me as I continue to fill his shoes this year. ■

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