Jessica Kowalski, Class of 2018
Name: Jessica Kowalski
Hometown: Swansea, Illinois
Class Year: Professional year two (P2)
Why you want to be a pharmacist:
I want to be a pharmacist for many reasons. I have always had respect and admiration for the healthcare profession. I was the little girl who liked to play “doctor” instead of house, and I always demanded that my stuffed animals get medical attention. When I was a child, I had quite a few medical problems with my ears, so I was in contact with doctors and nurses fairly often during preschool. Being so young, I did not remember much, but I did remember really nice people. I always remembered the funny nurse over the cranky ones because the happy people made me feel less scared. This even applied to when I got older; I felt safer with the happier and calmer medical professionals. So when deciding a career field, I had no doubts that I would go into the medical field, but which one? I chose pharmacy because it is the most trustworthy medical profession, and I knew that my future advice, recommendations and interactions would be the most important and influential to my future patients. Plus, I do love chemistry, and it just seemed like the perfect combination for me. Just to be sure, I participated in many job shadowings in many locations like the Trauma and Burn ICU at Barnes Jewish Hospital and the coagulation clinic at Scott Air Force Base, IL to help complete my decision. After participating in the Walgreens STLCOP Summer Explorers Program in the summer of 2011, I knew pharmacy was the medical field for my interests. Like the medical professionals I encountered as a child, I not only wanted to help people with their medications but also show them compassion; pharmacy will allow me to do that.
Why you chose STLCOP:
I chose STLCOP for many reasons. I participated in the Walgreens STLCOP Summer Explorers Program in the summer of 2011. During a time of learning, I was on campus almost every day for over a month, and I loved the campus. Its location in the biomedical complex of Washington Medical School, Barnes Jewish Hospital, Children’s Hospital, and Siteman Cancer Center was something that I could not find at other colleges I was looking at. I also was drawn in by the 14:1 student to faculty ratio because I had gone to a very small middle school when I lived in Hawaii. I liked the close interaction that I received there compared to my very large high school. I ultimately decided STLCOP because of its high reputation. I would meet medical professionals in Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado who had known about STLCOP and its program. Every person I seemed to meet would say “that school has a great program.” So, I decided to go to this school, and I know I made the right decision!
What activities/organizations you are involved with at STLCOP:
I am a Student Ambassador for the school and a Professional Orientation Leader. I am the vice president of a gaming club called GEARS. And I am also a member of the Illinois Pharmacist Association, Student Pharmacist Association, American Pharmacist Association, and Student National Pharmacist Association specifically in the areas of Oncology and Pediatrics. I participate research projects at the school.
So far, by far, my favorite course had been Pathophysiology. It has been the course that I felt has been not only the most interesting, but the most important pertaining to my future career. My favorite lab has been the Pharmaceutics Compounding Lab. It is also like being a mad scientist making different forms of medications like suppositories, solutions, suspension, capsules, and ointments. The emulsion was my favorite.
Best part about STLCOP:
The best part about STLCOP is that EVERYONE is in pharmacy. Everyone is studying for the same exams, and participating in the same classes. Upper classmen are willing to help younger students because they have taken those classes before. They know how hard the Biology tests are, and how strict the grading is in Pharmaceutics. They help mentor people on classes, give recommendations about buying books, and even give rides to the grocery store. Everyone here wants to see each other succeed. With such a difficult curriculum, the interactions between the students is very uplifting.
Future career plans and/or specific area of pharmacy you are interested in:
I plan on continuing my education after pharmacy school. I would like to go on into some residency. The longer I am in pharmacy school, the more I am learning about different fields of pharmacy; so it is very difficult to decide. I currently am looking into Infectious Disease, Oncology, or Cardiology, but I am open to other options that will interest me.
Advice for incoming students:
My advice for incoming students: study a little every day, get 8 hours of sleep (when you can), make good close friends, be nice to everyone you meet (you can always been mean later), embrace your classes with optimism (just know you might hate them sometimes), find something you enjoy on campus and get involved, take time to do something for yourself (at least once a week), get a tutor if you need one (everyone here does), try not to be too loud in the cafeteria, make a couple upperclassmen friends, and do not stress out every three seconds. College is one of the best time of your life - so enjoy it.