Written By: Elizabeth Heubeck
Mena Gaballah, PharmD ’18, JD ’18, knows a thing or two about time management. Gaballah, an intellectual property and health care associate at the law firm Crowell & Moring, LLP, graduated from the School of Pharmacy in 2018. That same year, he also earned a degree from the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law.
It’s hard to fathom the intense schedule required to obtain a law degree and a pharmacy degree simultaneously, let alone actually pursue it. But Gaballah seems to have taken it in stride.
What’s more, he humbly credits faculty at both schools with making the intense schedule work. “While it was tough, it was manageable. People who were understanding made things a lot easier,” says Gaballah, who intentionally pursued the dual degree in order to be able to use a clinical and scientific background in the practice of law. He points to Cherokee Layson-Wolf, PharmD ’00, CGP, BCACP, FAPhA, the School of Pharmacy’s associate dean for student affairs, as a faculty member key to his success.
According to Layson-Wolf, Gaballah’s somewhat rare academic circumstances coupled with his proactive nature turned out to be mutually beneficial. One of the first students she advised through the dual degree, Gaballah provided Layson-Wolf with an insider’s perspective of the challenges it presented. Together, they met regularly with Crystal Edwards, JD, MA, assistant dean for academic affairs at Maryland Carey Law. “These exchanges helped inform our interactions with other dual-degree students,” Layson-Wolf observes.
While coordination of academic scheduling between the two schools helped Gaballah flourish in the classroom, he also made time as a dual-degree student to pursue several beneficial extracurricular experiences. As a first-year pharmacy student, he competed in the National Community Pharmacist Business Plan Competition. Over several months, he and three other students developed an opioid and controlled substance insurance plan.
Gaballah also co-authored an opinion piece in The Baltimore Sun calling for tighter regulation of improperly used over-the-counter substances. Co-authors included Neal Reynolds, MD, co-director of the Multi-Trauma Intensive Care Unit at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, and Thomas Scalea, MD, FACS, FCCM, physician-in-chief at Shock Trauma.
Authoring this timely essay alongside key members of Shock Trauma’s leadership team speaks to Gaballah’s maturity as a student. It also demonstrates the profound influence that his fourth-year critical care rotation at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center had on his overall experience as a pharmacy student. He points to attending pre-rounds, seeing very complicated multi-trauma patients, and collaborating with the
medical team as some of the highlights of his academic career.
But it wasn’t just the clinical rotation’s intense, adrenaline-boosting nature that broadened Gaballah’s knowledge base — and prepared him for the future. After completing 10- to 12-hour days at Shock Trauma, Gaballah would head straight to the law school for classes. The demanding pace challenged his stamina.
But a breakneck schedule seems to have become Gaballah’s norm. In his first postgraduate job as a lawyer providing full-service intellectual counseling services to a range of clients — including pharmaceutical, chemistry, biotechnology, and materials science technologies — Gaballah has little downtime. “It can be fairly intense,” he says of working on several different projects simultaneously. But it’s a path he’s happy he chose.
“My PharmD was integral to both landing and excelling at my job. Having a strong clinical and scientific background allows me to grasp concepts quickly and put to use what I learned in pharmacy school,” Gaballah says.