Varsity Tutors Scholarship Entry

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The Relentless Encourager - Varsity Tutors Scholarship Essay

My attitude towards education was a journey of 10 years ranging from simply earning a degree to embracing professionalism. Today, education is my foundation to match my ability and conviction for patient-centered care as a future pharmacist. I believe a solid investment in pharmacotherapy will enable me to best serve patients and collaborate with professionals. My journey would not have occurred without a professor who believed in me and opened my eyes.

Upon graduating from high school, I had planned to become a young pharmacist. Earning a degree was a means for me to enjoying a solid lifestyle. I lived on my own for the first time while struggling to balance work and school. I eagerly informed my professors and colleagues that I was committed to pharmacy. Unfortunately, I did not adjust well and earned some C’s on my transcript. Despite not being the ideal candidate for pharmacy school, I applied with hope once I met the prerequisites.

I received rejection letters by every pharmacy school. I was demoralized and I felt like my personhood was also rejected. I needed to keep my rejection a secret and decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree in biology hoping it would buffer my C’s.

I felt like giving up at times because every exam point mattered. I needed to master the game of points because my life depended on it, and I cared less if I learned the material. One day at a computer lab, a biology professor approached me. Dr. Mustafa seemed trustworthy and inquired my interest in pharmacy. I shared my secret and mentioned that I was considering another career. He encouraged me to continue seeking pharmacy because he believed in me; perhaps he remembered my passion for pharmacy earlier. We talked for well over an hour and despite the conversation, I wanted to believe his encouraging words, but I was frightened to apply again.

Dr. Mustafa continued to encourage me whenever we crossed paths in the hallways. He always brought up pharmacy and how I would become a good pharmacist someday. He always displayed confidence towards me while I showed ambivalence. I politely smiled and kept my pharmacy calling behind me.

After graduating with a B.S., I needed any job. I observed my classmates’ chosen paths and contemplated on mine. Dr. Mustafa encouraged me to attend a seminar for prospective graduate students. I did not want more education since it betrayed me earlier. We ended up talking to each other the whole time. I felt like he truly believed in me and I felt inspired to pursue a master’s degree in biology. My passion and self-worth came back and I applied for graduate school only, not pharmacy school. This conversation was the pivotal point for my education.

Graduate school was intense for me, yet it was a wonderful growing experience because the greatest gift was critical thinking. Through my teaching assistantship, I tried to pass this process of thinking to others.

Being in the teaching role, my attitude towards education changed dramatically. I loved sharing knowledge and passing on my enthusiasm through experiments. I realized professors have an integral role on how a student perceives and feels about a field of study. Moreover, I believe every student can learn anything when given a positive learning environment inside and outside the classroom. I enjoyed learning and maximizing the potential of others.

Later, Dr. Mustafa exclaimed to me that a new pharmacy school was coming to our city. I ultimately decided that it was an omen for me to try again, but I applied with a different attitude and felt it was not a life sentence for me. I was okay with getting a rejection letter because I loved science whether it was biology or pharmacy. My appreciation for science was beyond meeting a certain lifestyle because research, in particular, expands the mind and pushes the status quo. Therefore, I felt there were many paths for me as a budding scientist.

A few days after the interview, I accepted the offer from the pharmacy school. After the excitement settled, I reflected on my long-winded path and wondered what kind of pharmacist I would have been without it. Would I have taken education so seriously? No, I would not. Instead, I celebrate my path as an older pharmacy student and realize the importance of education. Because education is an investment to me, I do my best and I accept what I earn. My grades do not reflect my mood because I focus on learning and fostering cognitive moral development. I strive to become a professional where I seek feedback from others, multiple solutions to problems, and focus on the greater good.

My development would not have occurred without Dr. Mustafa’s eyes. I am not sure what he saw in me, but he persistently fueled me by his encouragement. On graduation day, he proudly hugged me and said, “I knew you could do it...you became educated...” On that day, it occurred to me that Dr. Mustafa cared more about me becoming an educated woman, and simply combined it with my innate passion for pharmacy.

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