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University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy
Discovering Leadership through ICHP
by David Silva, P2, ICHP President-Elect
Reflecting on my first year in pharmacy school, people have always asked me why I chose to move all the way from sunny California to the Windy City. I had known of my interest in pharmacy for quite a while, and – with the metropolitan allure and promise of boundless opportunities within the Illinois Medical District – Chicago seemed like a perfect fit. What I’ve found since then, however, is that the personal growth and leadership experiences I’ve gained through my involvement with ICHP this past year have more than validated why I am here.
When I first arrived at UIC, like most students I was bombarded with countless acronyms of the many professional organizations on campus. It was difficult to tell each of them apart, but it was not an issue seeing that at the time I had no real interest in joining one. Then, about a week into school, as various organizations were holding informational meetings and events, I happened to stumble into a leadership seminar tucked away in the basement of the college. Sitting in the back of the lecture hall, I began to hear from several prominent, accomplished students as they gave advice on leadership and succeeding in pharmacy school. One particular quote from a senior student truly stood out to me that day and has ever since: “You are much more capable than you think. I know each one of you could take on multiple leadership positions, and would still surprise yourself with how much more you could handle.”
It sounds like a cliché moment dramatized through self-reflection, but that was certainly the defining moment in which I decided to reorganize my priorities and run for a leadership position. I had come to Chicago to study pharmacy, and felt I was not cut out for leadership. However, despite having never held office – let alone being a member – of any organization or club in my life, I was inspired to try something new. As everyone in that room on that day had emphasized, the worst that could happen if you tried and failed was to get up and try again.
That evening I began looking into what each organization at UIC had to offer, and what positions or opportunities were still available; at that time I knew I had an interest in clinical pharmacy, and ICHP immediately stood out. Lo and behold, the position of “P1 Liaison” was available. Unsure of the exact duties of this position - and still somewhat doubting myself - I set out to find out more about the position and subsequently started crafting a platform and speech. As nervous as I was, looking back on that day only a short 9 months ago, I can barely recognize that person I used to be.
In the time that followed being elected as P1 Liaison, I began to gain a newfound confidence in my abilities both as a student and as a leader. I had never thought of myself as a leader, but as I first began to receive feedback from other students following a series of hospital tours offered by ICHP – the first event I ever had to plan, organize, and manage throughout – I could see the positive impact I could have on others. Even if only a handful of students benefitted from my time and effort invested, it was completely justified as worthwhile to continue and develop these opportunities further.
As the year progressed, this effect snowballed. I became more invested in participating in and providing new opportunities through ICHP for my fellow classmates and to benefit the community, and began to realize that I - that any of us - are much more capable than we think. From working together with our e-board on numerous lung health initiatives, to having the extraordinary opportunity to be involved in several highly innovative, student-led efforts in ICHP that will be continuing next year, I became engrossed in ICHP’s role in providing students with the resources and experiences necessary to excel during their future careers in a health-system setting.
Reflecting on my P1 year, I can confidently state that I would not be the person I am today without the experiences and growth achieved through my involvement with ICHP. Having received the President-Elect position going in to my P2 year, I am greatly looking forward to seeing how both our chapter, and other ICHP chapters throughout the state, will continue to innovate and provide exceptional opportunities for students.