Growing up in a medically- underserved community in Ghana, my seasonal struggles with malaria and continuous interactions with pharmacists deepened my interest in pharmacy and biomedical research at a very young age. I have always wanted to reciprocate the love and security that I enjoyed from my childhood pharmacists, help save lives, and contribute toward research in infectious diseases like malaria.
Could you tell us a little bit about your early educational background?
As a child, I was always fascinated with the miniscule intricacies of nature, and loved to probe deep into it. Despite numerous academic struggles during my elementary and middle school years, I showed tenacity of purpose by gaining admission into Opoku Ware Senior High School (OWASS), one of Ghana’s most selective all-male boarding schools where I majored in general science for three years. After I completed High School, I attended Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi, and completed my Bachelor of Science in Renewable Natural Resources in 2005. After immigrating to the United States, I attended Albany State University in Georgia, and completed my second Bachelor of Science in Chemistry.
What first got you interested in the healthcare field as a career choice? There are a lot of career options in the field – nursing, physician assistant, etc., what made you decide that pharmacy was the right practice area/career choice for you?
My numerous hospital visits due to malaria as a child, and my fascination with the roles pharmacists and physicians play in society made me have a keen interest in the healthcare field. Although I did not have adequate exposure to research while a student in Ghana, I aggressively pursued the joint MD/PhD program while in the US. Subsequently, I gained several research internship opportunities with some of the nation’s topmost research universities and institutions including the Drug Optimization and Design Unit of Merck Research Laboratories, Boston. After completing college, I worked with the Varicella Vaccines Division of Merck Sharp & Dohme as Deviations Management Coordinator, and later as a Minor and Major Deviations Investigator. Through my role, I became more appreciative of the need for more surveillance on issues with drug potency & sterility, current good manufacturing practices, and quality assurance. Since my job responsibilities cut across vaccines process engineering, and regulatory affairs, I saw a future transition into pharmacy as the next logical step.
What type of obstacles have you had to overcome on the road to getting your education and in particular in pursuing your PharmD degree? Was there any one thing that led you to decide, “this is definitely the right move for me”?
I grew up as one of five siblings in a low-income neighborhood. Certain circumstances made us live mostly with my mother who despite her hardworking and multi-talented nature sometimes struggled to meet all our academic demands. I struggled in almost all my science and mathematics classes throughout my elementary school years since she could not afford a private tutor to assist me after school hours. Eventually, I overcame these struggles. However, immigrating to the US came with another set of financial challenges since I had no support from my family and had to rely on Federal loans for my second undergraduate education because I was not qualified for Federal and State grants and scholarships owing to the fact that I already had a bachelor’s degree. Due to some other personal future ambitions that I had, I resigned from my position at Merck, and later tutored and mentored students in organic and general chemistry at Georgia Perimeter College. It was my daily exchanges and tutoring sessions with pre-pharmacy students that reignited my passion in the field of pharmacy and led me to finally decide that pursuing the PharmD degree was the right move for me.
Once you decided to pursue a PharmD degree, how did you know that KGI SPHS was the right school for you?
As an ardent supporter of interdisciplinary and collaborative approach to pharmacy practice, and infectious diseases research, I was enthused to be a part of the innovative and revolutionary approach to the study of pharmacy being ushered-in by the KGI School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.
Also, I saw KGI SPHS as the right place to nurture my interest in pharmacy practice without compromising my unique passion for research in infectious diseases as I train to become a versatile future pharmacy professional who is competent, confident, and practice-ready.
What are you most looking forward to about beginning your PharmD studies at KGI?
I am very excited about making my long-awaited transition to graduate school. I am equally optimistic that I will have the opportunity to train under some the nation’s best and brightest pharmacists and scientists. Finally, I am looking forward to gaining more knowledge about the four concentrations that the SPHS offers so that I can make an informed decision on what I want to do with my PharmD degree in the near future.
What setting do you see yourself working in eventually -in industry, community pharmacy, clinical, government agency, etc.? Why does that area of practice appeal to you?
Prior to coming to KGI, I was keenly interested in the industry because of my experience working with Merck Viral Vaccines Division. That area of practice was more appealing to me because that was the principal exposure that I had. However, from the lessons that I have learned from past life experiences, I will open my doors to all possibilities and make an informed decision later.