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Midwestern University Chicago College of Pharmacy
Discovering Serendipity: Reflections of a Third-Year Pharmacy Student
by Honey Joseph, PS3, ICHP Membership Chair Midwestern University Chicago College of Pharmacy
I did not always dream of becoming a pharmacist. Growing up in India, where the Doctor of Pharmacy degree was not even introduced until 2008, I never knew what possibilities existed in the field of pharmacy. I certainly did not imagine that I would pursue a career in it. As a first generation immigrant in the United States, I learned about the Doctor of Pharmacy degree from friends and teachers.
By virtue of countless forces, I ultimately decided to attend Midwestern University’s Chicago College of Pharmacy. As I listened to Dean Fjortoft deliver her welcome message on the first day of classes, I quickly realized that the scope of pharmacy far surpassed my limited understanding. On that day alone, I must have heard that “pharmacy is a small world” at least five times; yet as each day of the quarter passed, pharmacy school was convincing me otherwise. Too many opportunities to explore in too little a time— from organizations and fraternities, to research and internships— pharmacy felt like a grand world in which I wondered if I could ever establish myself.
Academics by itself occupied most of my time during the first year. I would look around and see other students embracing leadership roles and ask myself why I could not achieve what they did, even though I was trying. Was I not capable of being a leader? Somewhere within this period of self-struggle, an opportunity came to attend the Student Leadership Institute (SLI), an extracurricular program aimed to develop healthcare profession leaders. Through the SLI, I learned to connect with the leader within me through multiple activities such as completing the Decisiveness, Interactiveness, Stability, and Cautiousness Index Profile (a tool to self-assess one’s behavioral traits), working closely with a mentor in the pharmacy profession, and networking with peers. These experiences were crucial to help plant optimism inside me and rectify the subtle, underlying sense of uncertainty which had hitherto informed my decisions.
After the SLI, several leadership roles came to me unexpectedly. One of these roles was being the Membership Chair of ICHP, a position which would not only allow me to grow personally, but would also give me a platform to allow other students to develop their own unique skills. As I reflect, I cannot help but smile remembering how I almost missed the deadline to submit the application for this ICHP e-board position until one of my friends reminded me. Moreover, I had always been the person to complain that a person’s resume does not show attempts, rather only achievements. I now recognize that the value of perseverance transcends any such tangible realities; there is always a reward for persistence.
It took me till the end of my third year to see the beautiful synchronicities of my pharmacy school experience, for instance, that the SLI fittingly happened before I adopted leadership positions. In fact, a plethora of clues now reveal to me that I had always been in the right place. Childhood memories of me keenly arranging tablets into my grandmother’s pill box, or sitting with my eyes to the countertop as my chemistry teachers performed demos with acids and bases, or deciding to live on campus which made programs such as the SLI more accessible for me. None of these were coincidences. There is a reason why I can only see positive outcomes as I look back at my pharmacy school experience. There is a reason why I have countless reasons to be grateful— from enduring friendships and accomplishments…to so many little reasons to celebrate from within. There is a reason why I have no fears for myself or for the future of pharmacy. I call this reason “serendipity.”