Written By: Charles Summerlin, Third-Year Student Pharmacist

Student pharmacists at the School of Pharmacy are incredibly fortunate to have a plethora of opportunities available to them through the School’s many student organizations. I quickly got involved with the American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) during my first year as a student pharmacist because it seemed to be the organization that everyone joined, but it was through my involvement with APhA-ASP that I soon discovered my passion for patient care, leadership, and advocacy. It is also through APhA-ASP that I have learned many valuable lessons that have gotten me to where I am today.

Turn Failures into Successes

After attending the 2016 APhA Annual Meeting & Exposition, I was motivated and inspired to run for president-elect of the School’s APhA-ASP chapter. I spent countless hours brainstorming ideas for the position and improving my candidacy. I remember I was sitting in class when I received the email with the election results. My name was nowhere to be found. I lost. Having put my all into that position, I was quite devastated at the time. After losing the election, however, a good friend shared this quote that had a profound effect on me and motivated me to stay involved – “Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence, and inspiration.” In other words, it didn’t matter that I lost that election; I could still make an impact and serve as a leader in other capacities. I took that advice and moved on to pursue many other opportunities within APhA-ASP.

Take Advantage of Endless Opportunities

While I lost the election for president-elect my first year, I knew that there were still endless opportunities to get involved on the local, regional, and national level within APhA-ASP. I was fortunate to be able to serve in local (interim membership vice president, assistant to the patient care vice president, and patient care vice president) and regional officer roles (region 2 member-at-large). Serving in these roles shaped me into the person I am today, ignited my passion for APhA-ASP, and pushed me to seek national leadership roles. I am excited and humbled to be continuing my involvement during the 2018-2019 academic year as a recently appointed member of the APhA-ASP National Standing Committee on Member Engagement.

Do Not Fear the Unknown

Part of pursuing other opportunities is to not fear the unknown. You really never know what to expect when you take the plunge to do something new, but I am so thankful that I pushed beyond my comfort zone to seek out those opportunities. My involvement with APhA-ASP has helped me grow in more ways than I ever could have imagined, both personally and professionally. From being anxious about simply attending my first outreach event to traveling solo through Europe for the first time as part of the APhA-ASP/IPSF Student Exchange Program, and now serving in roles I never envisioned possible, the transformation that I have seen in myself is unreal.

In my early days of pharmacy school, I never saw myself as a leader, and I certainly never saw myself pursuing regional and national officer positions. However, I am incredibly thankful that I was motivated to turn my failures into successes, to push beyond my comfort zone, and to take advantage of amazing opportunities. I cannot imagine what my life would be like today without the many invaluable experiences I have had as a result of this mentality. Adopt this same mindset, and I assure you that you will also be shocked about how it will transform your life for the better.

As a result of the many experiences and opportunities that I have been fortunate to have, I will be much better equipped as a future pharmacist. Not only have I strengthened many practical skills, such as time management, leadership, and communication, that will benefit me in my future career, but the connections that I have made will also make a lasting impact. While I have grown a tremendous amount thus far as a student pharmacist, I am excited to grow even more through future experiences.

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