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Leading the Next Generation

Published on 20 December 2019

"This pill is now pink. Yesterday, it was green."

P3 student Sydney Tu first made a connection with the profession of pharmacy by overhearing conversations between her grandparents about their medications. The complexities of managing medication therapies for chronic diseases inspired her to not only make sense of her grandparents' prescriptions but also pursue a career in pharmacy.

"I remember growing up and going to visit Charlie the pharmacist with my grandparents and seeing the patience and care he exhibited toward his patients," she said. "He spoke to them in Mandarin Chinese, and it made them feel comfortable with their medication regimen. His care and compassion really exemplified the type of provider I wanted to be."

Ever since stepping on to St. Louis College of Pharmacy's campus, Tu has taken every opportunity to get involved.

During her first three years at the College, she mentored high school students through the College's BESt Pharmacy Summer Institute, a partnership between Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Express Scripts and the College that prepares multicultural high school students for a future career in health care.

"The BESt program was the first time I mentored younger students, and it inspired me to continue to pay it forward and work harder for the next students entering the profession," Tu explained.

Tu continued to stay involved through the College's student ambassador program, Lambda Kappa Sigma, the Student Pharmacists Association, the American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP).

Through participation in the College's international service learning course, Tu traveled to Macedonia and Guatemala, where she learned about serving diverse populations and worked with Habitat for Humanity International to build homes for local residents.

"One thing that makes you a stronger health care provider is being comfortable working with diverse patient populations," Tu added. "Serving the people of Guatemala and Macedonia let me step outside my comfort zone and explore cultural differences that I had never experienced."

During her P1 year, Tu was elected as APhA-ASP Region 6 Midyear Regional Meeting coordinator. In the role, she brought nearly 300 students, faculty and pharmacy professionals from six states to St. Louis and helped lead and organize educational, professional development and networking events for attendees.

"Bringing pharmacists, student pharmacists and industry professionals together for a weekend of learning, leadership development and discovering new ways to better serve patients was a turning point for me," Tu said. "After the meeting ended, I knew I wanted to do more."

Inspired by what she witnessed at the meeting, Tu attended the APhA-ASP Summer Leadership Institute where she traveled to Washington, D.C., to advocate for the profession of pharmacy on Capitol Hill, network with student pharmacists and participate in leadership and professional development activities.

Tu was paired with a student pharmacist from Alaska to meet with legislators and discuss the important role pharmacists have on the health care team.

"Bringing awareness to Capitol Hill is vital for the progression of our profession," Tu explained. "If you are not familiar with the profession, it may be difficult to understand that there are many services within our practice scope that can improve health outcomes. This is the reason why advocacy is a key aspect of APhA-ASP's mission."

During an exciting election last spring, Tu made College history when she was elected to serve as the 2019-20 APhA-ASP national president-elect. In this role, she is responsible for guiding the national committee's focus throughout the year and visiting other pharmacy schools to meet with students, deans and advisors to ensure local chapters are engaged and supported.

Once her term as president-elect has been fulfilled, Tu will transition into the role of national president and serve as an APhA board of trustees member. Tu acknowledges that opportunities like this would not be possible if she didn't have the College cheering her on.

"I still can't believe how far I have come," Tu said. "If it weren't for my mentors, friends, family, along with faculty and staff who have encouraged me, I would not be where I am today. They recognized my potential and encouraged me to push myself to the next level."

This story was first published in the fall 2019 issue of Script. Visit stlcop.edu/script to read more and access previous issues.

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