Interested in Pharmacy? Meet Whittney Davis!

Name: Whittney Davis
Age: 25
Hometown: Fort Worth, TX
Current City: Dallas, Texas
Undergraduate University & Major: Texas Tech University/Biology
Graduate School Attending: Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

The Past

Take me back a decade, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was 15, I wanted to be a pharmacist!

Tell me about your college application process. How did you decide on a school and major?
The application process was very scary to me, because it was new. My parents did not attend college, and I had no siblings to guide me down the right path. I also knew that I couldn’t afford college, I had no clue what to do in order to remedy that simple fact, but I was determined to find out. My uncle went to Texas A&M, so my mother wanted me to attend school there; my father was a longhorn fan, so naturally he wanted me to attend UT. I had a small scholarship opportunity to play volleyball at a college up north, but was I willing to move half-way across the country at 18? The answer was no. I browsed online for Texas colleges and compiled a list. Online, it said that you should try and visit as many colleges as possible, so that is what I aimed to do. The first on my list was Texas Tech University. I visited the campus in Lubbock, Texas and instantly my fate was sealed. I fell in love with the atmosphere, the friendliness of its citizens and proximity yet longevity of the distance between Lubbock and home. It was during this visit that I decided I did not need to visit any other campus’. I applied as soon as I returned home. I don’t remember my SAT scores, I believe I had been accepted prior to even taking my SAT’s. Over my senior year I began working on the many different scholarships that were offered through my high school as well as Texas Tech. I was able to fund my entire 4 years of undergraduate studies through scholarships, this was one of my most prized accomplishments. With my focus set on becoming a pharmacist, I figured that I could go one of two routes, biology or chemistry. I have always loved biology and how the body works, and despite hearing the rumors of how difficult this major would be, I decided to give it a try. This major pushed me further than I thought possible, it was a difficult as I had heard, yet, it was very rewarding; I would make the same choice all over again given the opportunity.

What was the hardest part of your undergraduate studies? How did you get through it?
The hardest part of my undergraduate studies was my very first biology class. It was taught by Dr. Dini, notorious for difficult exams and material. The first day we stepped into class, a sort of fear developed. He let us know that if we were in a sorority, fraternity, a person who volunteered often, enjoyed a social life or planned to go home early for Thanksgiving should just drop his class right then and there, that this class would be difficult and had been nicknamed the “weed out” class. I took the first exam, I failed. This was the first time I had ever failed at anything in my entire life. I took the second exam, again, I failed. I was not sure what was going on, I studied my heart out, what else could I do? I was too embarrassed to ask a colleague for help, and I was too afraid to ask the professor. I dropped the course and contemplated if I would really ever end up as a pharmacist. The next year, I decided that this class was the only way I could get the ball rolling on my dreams. I learned new ways to study, I stopped memorizing and started learning, I asked questions, I earned a B in the class. I told myself that I could never be satisfied in life letting someone or something limit me. I’m glad I had that pep talk with myself, because this would not be the last time that failure found me.

What did you do between undergrad and graduate school?
Between undergrad and graduate school, I worked as a pharmacy technician. I shadowed in a pharmacy, studied for the technician exam, passed the exam and was offered a job at an independent pharmacy. I had not gotten into pharmacy school on my first attempt. I was told that my application was not competitive enough, and that my PCAT scores did not meet entrance requirements. I spent a year strengthening my application so that I could reapply. I then retook my PCAT exam as well. I decided to apply early decision to Texas Tech because I knew that this was where I wanted to continue my education; I knew that early decision was my best chance to show the admissions board how serious I was about pharmacy school. I was accepted a few weeks following my interview process!

The Present

How and when did you decide on Pharmacy school?
I decided at the age of 7 that I wanted to be a pharmacist. Up until that point, I had wanted to be a “trash can man.” I gave up on the latter desire when I accompanied my mom to the pharmacy for the first time. The white coats are what first caught my attention. I wondered if they were scientists, or something of the sort. I was immediately intrigued and declared to my mother that I would be a–what was it called– “pharmacist, my mother told me,” “right, pharmacist!” I never wavered from this decision, and each day that I went to school from that day forward was a step toward that white coat.

What did you do to be a good Pharmacy school applicant?
I took my PCAT twice, I looked for shadowing opportunities within the pharmacy, I became a certified pharmacy technician, I retook classes that had given me trouble during undergrad, and I spoke with other pharmacists for advice.

What advice would you give to a freshman pre-pharmacy student?
Your grades are important, but they are not everything. It is also important to be well rounded and involved outside of school as well. It is important to show interest in the profession by attempting to get as much experience pertaining to the field as possible. Try, try, and try again. Failing to get into a school on your first attempt is not the worst thing that can happen! If you know that you would like to attend a certain school, visit it, apply for early decision. Be proactive in everything that you do, not reactive; be seen and be heard! Most importantly, be yourself, and stay optimistic. It really is a process, you have to learn to appreciate every step along the way.

How have you managed to balance school/ relationships/self care since starting school?
So far it has been quite the task balancing all of these aspects, especially being hours away from family, friends and significant other. It was very difficult, but I just took everything one day at a time. I leaned on family and friends when I needed to, I visited when I could, and most importantly, I realized that what I was going through, I was going through it for them! Self care was probably the most difficult to manage. Eating, exercising, sleeping, studying, laundry etc, it was very easy to put those aside in favor of studying. This of course isn’t the best course of action, but it takes a bit of time to get the perfect balance; it was mostly trial and error, and coffee…lots of coffee.

Are you interested in any specific specialty?
As we have not had rotations just yet, I am not quite sure what specialty I am interested in, though I hope to figure that out very soon. If I had to guess, I might say critical care.

The Future

What does your ideal career look like?
My ideal career is one where I am constantly involved with something new. I don’t find a high satisfaction in jobs that become monotonous, so my ideal career involves variety! I hope that my career will also be challenging and force me to continue to grow.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years, I see myself working my ideal career, beginning a family and traveling the world. I see myself possibly beginning a business of my own.

What sacrifices have you made for your career?
I have sacrificed missing a lot of family events, being present in the early years of my God children’s lives, as well as my own sanity and health at times. I feel for a moment I gave up my happiness as well, as the stress of school can sometimes lead you to feel unhappy.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
The road to your careers will never be an easy one. At times you will want to quit, you will wonder if you are good enough, you will wonder if you made the right choices. The most important thing you can do is to remember that if it were easy, everyone would do it, times will not always be difficult, you are ALWAYS good enough, and following God will lead you to make the best choices possible! Enjoy your journey, and appreciate all of your efforts, successes and failures because they are all equally important! Network, network, network!

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Interested in Pediatrics? Meet Dr. Anderson!

Any of you guys interested in Pediatrics? I interviewed a Pediatrician Dr. Anderson! She was so honest and open about her entire journey from College to Osteopathic Med School to Residency. Everything she said was pure gold!

She talked about why she chose Pediatrics, her biggest struggles through college and how she balances life/school/relationships. No matter what step you’re in of your career, I think you will find this video very inspirational and helpful.

Please be sure to like, comment and subscribe!

Watch Video Below!

Interested in Occupational Therapy? Meet Josie Burke!

Name: Josie Burke
Age: 22
Hometown: Allen, TX
Current City: Lubbock, TX
Undergraduate University & Major: Texas Tech University; Psychology
Graduate School Attending: Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

The Past

1) Take me back a decade, what did you want to be when you grew up?
At that point (12 years old), I’m pretty sure I just wanted to be a popstar! I had big aspirations to be a singer and on Disney channel! Haha!

2) Tell me about your college application process. How did you decide on a school and major?
I knew that I wanted to stay in Texas and go to a public school. I applied to 6 colleges but had my heart set on Texas Tech the entire time. I had looked at schools that also had OT schools and that’s how I came across Tech. I had my first college visit there right before my senior year of high school and really just fell in love! I loved how it felt like family and how nice everyone was. There also seemed to be a lot of opportunities (and at that point I had no clue just how MANY opportunities) for me at the university.

3) What was the hardest part of your undergraduate studies? How did you get through it?
The hardest part for me was learning how to balance my time. Specifically starting my second year. I had a job as a Community Advisor (equivalent to an RA in a dorm), was involved in numerous clubs/activities, and had a full load of classes that I tried my best to maintain A’s in!
I got through it by scheduling everything and making lists for everything. Holding myself accountable this way helped to me to not get overwhelmed and to stay on top of everything. I also really had to work on not procrastinating! That was a big issue for me in high school , but I definitely had to say goodbye to that habit in college!

4) What did you do between undergrad and graduate school?
Initially I had a whole 10 days between undergrad and grad school. So not much there except move to a new house in town! After the first two months though there were some changes and I ended up taking off 10 months. During those 10 months I stayed in Lubbock and worked as a teller in a bank. I also worked on learning more about myself and how to better myself!

The Present

1) How and when did you decide on OT school?
When I was a junior in high school I decided I wanted to go into healthcare. I started looking at different options and OT came up. I had no idea what it was until I happened across it on the internet. It interested me a lot, so the following year (my senior year of high school), I did some shadowing at Baylor Rehab in Frisco, Texas. I shadowed OT, PT, and SLP, just to make sure that OT was for me. I decided after that, OT was the right choice!

2) What did you do to be a good OT school applicant?
From the get-go of college, I focused on maintaining a high GPA. I also started taking my pre-requisites my freshman year (although I know a lot of people don’t have to do that!). I had shadowing experience from different types of settings (pediatrics, inpatient, and outpatient). I also stayed very involved in on-campus organizations and also at my church. I had a lot of community service through those things. I also had recomendation letters in mind throughout college, so I made sure to create good relationships with my professors and also the therapists that I shadowed.

3) What advice would you give to a freshman pre-OT student? How have you managed to balance school/ relationships/self care since starting school?
The best advice I could give is to be serious about school from the very beginning. I was, and it made it much easier to have a strong beginning for my GPA so that I wasn’t having to play catch up later on. I would also recommend finding organizations to be a part of on campus to stay involved, and also start getting shadowing hours/experience. Overall, it did take me some time to learn how to balance everything. I think that is part of the process of becoming more independent and the transition into college. By the time I graduated, I had definitely become much better at the balancing act. My planner is my best friend honestly.

4) Are you interested in any specific specialty?
Right now I am still trying to figure it out, but I think I want to work in an inpatient rehabilitation center with an adult population. I am open to learning about different areas though, I’ve still got a lot of time!

The Future

1) What does your ideal career look like?
I would love to start out in an inpatient setting, hopefully in the Dallas area. I want to be able to work mostly weekdays and fairly normal hours. In the future I am open to seeing if an independent gym or clinic would be a good fit for me. I will probably go with the flow while I am young and see where that leads!

2) Where do you see yourself in five years?
Probably in Dallas, but honestly who knows! I may or may not be single still, which will probably play a factor on where I am living. Part of the beauty of OT is that is a fast growing career and the need for OTs has grown exponentially. I should be able to find a job wherever I decide to go.  In five years I will have been in the workforce for just 3 years. I am considering pursuing my doctorate after several years of being a clinician, so I could be looking into that at that point!

3) What sacrifices have you made for your career?
Fortunately not many so far. I am young and on track to have my degree and be certified at 24, which is fantastic.

4) Is there anything else you would like to add?
I am also interested in  being apart of medical missions in the future. Potentially even live overseas. I want to be able to make an impact globally and bring my services to those with a greater need.

Interested in Optometry? Meet Christa Widjaja!

 

 

“Life is a daring adventure or nothing.”  – Helen Keller

Name: Christa Widjaja
Age:
23
Hometown: Dallas, TX
Current City: Houston, TX
Undergraduate University & Major:  Texas Tech University, Biology
Graduate School Attending: University of Houston College of Optometry (UHCO)

The Past

Take me back a decade, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I have wanted to be an Optometrist since I was 8 years old, so you could say my childhood dreams actually came true when I was accepted in Optometry school.

Tell me about your college application process. How did you decide on a school and major?
One reason why I chose Texas Tech was because of how big its Health Sciences program was. Although it does not have an Optometry program, I was sure that it would give me enough preparation for graduate school. However, the determining factor was when I auditioned and joined the now National Champion Texas Tech Pom Squad. When choosing my major, I had asked a good friend who had gone to the same high school as me as well as Texas Tech what he had chosen. He told me that a Biology major and Chemistry minor provided him with all of the necessary prerequisites, and that is exactly what I did. Looking back and after talking to one of my current classmates who also went to Texas Tech, I wish I had chosen the Nutrition route, but I made it to Optometry school and that is all that matters.

What was the hardest part of your undergraduate studies? How did you get through it?
I had the most difficult time whenever I had multiple upper level science courses during one semester. As a four year member of the Texas Tech Pom Squad, my team was my family in Lubbock. They became my best friends, and we made sure to always relieve stress as much as possible together. They were my escape from the Biology world.

What did you do between undergrad and graduate school?
I only had the summer before graduate school started, so I had a couple of big events planned. First, I competed in the Miss Texas America Scholarship Pageant as Miss Coppell. I had an amazing time with my pageant sisters making memories that will last a lifetime. Second, I got to go back to my parents’ homeland of Indonesia for the third time in my life. We spent a little bit less than a month there, and I finally got to meet my younger cousins that had been born after my second visit to the culture-filled country. The food there is to die for, and I cannot wait to visit again.

The Present

How and when did you decide on Optometry school?
I knew I wanted to be an Optometrist when I was 8 years old. My Optometrists at the time was a young couple who owned their own private practice. There were able to help me use my first pair of contact lenses, and I could never be more thankful. As a competitive dancer, glasses were not the best solution for my leaps and turns. Using contact lenses helped me become the confident dancer I was before having to wear glasses. After learning that they had also graduated from UHCO, my dreams were set.

What did you do to be a good Optometry school applicant?
I honestly believe that my extracurricular activities and personality made me a good applicant. Yes, I passed all of my prerequisites and made sure to get above the average OAT (Optometry Admissions Test) from the previous class just to be safe, but I believe an outstanding personality and great people skills get you further than your GPA whether it be application for graduate school or life in general. GPA is only a number that everyone will forget about a year after graduation. With my heavy involvement of non-academic and academic organizations, I truly believe that I stood out from students that solely focused on graduating Summa Cum Laude.

What advice would you give to a freshman pre-optometry student?
Extracurriculars. Extracurriculars. Extracurriculars. You need to be able to stand out from a crowd of geniuses. Make them want you because of who you are as a person. Try to shadow a couple of Optometrists and get some work experience in at least one office if not more. Make sure that this is the profession that you can be passionate about for the rest of your life. Every practice will be different, so the more experience you have going into applications the merrier!

How have you managed to balance school/ relationships/self care since starting school?
I have an interesting personality of being very schedule oriented but also willing to go with the flow. School always comes first, but everyone needs a break every once in awhile. I laugh at my past self because I remember telling my mom, “I’ve never been JUST a student. I’ve always been part of a team, doing this and that. School will NOT consume my life.” Little did I know, Optometry school does consume your life, but when you have a passion for something, that’s okay! I force myself to find time for my friends and family because that is what keeps me sane while managing 20 course hours.

Are you interested in any specific specialty?
If I were to specialize after graduation, I would either apply for a Pediatrics or Cornea and Contact Lens residency at UHCO. After working for multiple optometrists, I have found that some are completely happy without any kind of specialty.

The Future

What does your ideal career look like?
I would not mind working under Texas State Optical (TSO) for a couple of years to get some experience. Eventually, I would like to open my own private practice or group practice with other Optometrists.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
I might be in Texas. I might not. I do see myself working in a stable, successful practice, but not necessarily my own. Hopefully I’ll be married by then. I will go wherever life takes me. I live life by my favorite quote: “Life is a daring adventure or nothing.”  – Helen Keller

What sacrifices have you made for your career?
In the future, I think I will have to sacrifice time with family and friends towards the beginning of my career. Although we have been told numerous times that the city we choose to practice in makes a world of a difference in our happiness, I would not be surprised if I had to make a sacrifice in the city that I practice in the first couple of years after graduation. I may not be completely satisfied with the area that I am in, but I believe that further in the future I will find the perfect city to practice and raise a family in.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
I just went to Washington D.C. for the first time ever in June, and I have realized that there is still so much of this country that I haven’t seen. One item on my bucket list is to visit all 50 states, and I am now up to 20. I think that is a fair amount, and I still feel like I need to travel more every time I visit a new state. I’ve been out of the country 5 times and also wish to visit every continent (except Antarctica) in the future. There is so much in the world to explore. As a young adult, I hope that in the future I do not get tied down to my career to where I cannot see what else is out there waiting for me.