I was once told that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments that we are likely to start searching for better answers. As a first generation Arab- American girl, I was introduced early to the tensions between two very different cultures and traditions. On one hand, the United States taught me the value of individualism. On the other hand, my family’s culture put community interests above those of the individual. For me, the question was simple: why can’t an individual strive to realize his innate potential while helping his community? I have learned to appreciate the uniqueness of people’s own journeys. I became a dedicated student who placed value on compassion, responsibility, and humility.
During my freshmen year in high school, my student counselor told to me about the importance of volunteering with an emphasis of helping those who are less fortunate. In that way, we gain experience that no education can teach us and with time we find ourselves as people. I began volunteering at the University of Michigan Thoracic Vascular Center, Taubman Outpatient Pharmacy and Motts Inpatient Pharmacy. Being bilingual in English and Arabic, I was able to effectively communicate essential information to the patients with the pharmacist support. I discovered that what had been my discomfort zone had become a source of deep satisfaction. Clearly, problems can be opportunities if we only consider them from the right angle.
While an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, I found many research opportunities offered through the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. I worked weekdays at the Domino Farm’s Cardiology Center and the U of M medical school helping with action research. At the cardiology center we studied the effects of angina, preventive cardiology, lipid management, and pulmonary hypertension. We used questionnaires to collect data and analyzed results to assist in better preventative and treatment options. It was a great experience to see different areas of research and to present my work to a number of colleagues. My time in the lab increased my interests in the effects of drugs, their composition, and their preparation.
Classes in Organic Chemistry, Human Anatomy, and Microbiology have also amplified my interests in the mechanisms, structure, and organization of the human body. Once during microbiology class, Professor Swanson talked about the different means of engineering antibiotics to destroy common viruses and bacteria. I was on the edge of my seat with interested in how they worked. The opportunity to understand this knowledge and to be able to use it to help people has given me a sincere desire to expand my knowledge and to garner a greater understanding of these areas.
On the weekends and holidays I would go home and work at our family’s restaurant. That strengthened my communication skills and taught me the importance of customer service. At the restaurant, I interacted with different people, and learned to appreciate human diversity. I think that it was President Calvin Coolidge who said that the business of America is business. Americans get along with their great diversity because they rely on trade in dealing with each other. Some of us trade goods; others trade services.
I am thankful I live in the United States. The opportunity to be anything I choose is a great gift. No barrier of class or gender restricts me. My grandfather immigrated to the United States with nothing but the clothes on his back. He struggled to get a share in the American dream. He also suffered from diabetes and died during surgery after a long illness. I want to honor his memory by alleviating the suffering of others.
As I see it, a pharmacy is both a business and a service. If I was able to make a difference just at the level of volunteering, I can only imagine what I can do when I become a pharmacist using my language skills and experiences to help patients. I look forward to losing myself in a worthy activity I find very interesting while I extend myself in the service of a greater good.