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Pharmacy Leaders Podcast: Inspiring Pharmacy Leadership Interviews

Jun 10, 2018

I had the privilege of interviewing Ahmed Ismail, a McNair Scholar. The McNair Program is a United States Department of Education initiative with a goal of increasing attainment of Ph.D.'s by students from underrepresented segments of society. He just returned from his study abroad in the United Kingdom and his co-op at GE Aviation. Although he isn't the biggest fan of the education system, he believes that it is a useful tool for defining your pursuit of purpose. Please help me welcome, Ahmed Ismail. Here is the YouTube link

 Full Transcript:

welcome to the pharmacy leaders podcast
with your host Tony Guerra the pharmacy
leaders podcast is a member of the
pharmacy podcast network with interviews
and advice on building your professional
network brand and a purposeful second
income from students residents and
innovative professionals hey welcome to
the pharmacy leaders podcast I wanted to
introduce someone who has created a
fantastic podcast on YouTube his name is
Ahmed Ahmed
from the University of Iowa College of
Pharmacy and the next five days you're
going to hear one episode each day and I
encourage you to go to his channel to
subscribe at your pop-y oh you are P o P
it stands for the your pursuit of
purpose podcast where he interviews
successful people and how they got down
there leadership Road so hopefully
you'll subscribe 2,000 people already
have in the last month and here we go
what's going on guys this is Ahmed and
I'm here today with episode 4 of the
year pursuit of purpose podcast and I
actually have an amazing young guy that
I'll be interviewing today and he goes
by I mean it's my age how you doing and
he's actually a mechanical engineering
student who the Iowa State University he
recently was selected as a McNair
scholar which he will be at enrolling in
this coming fall semester Carretas
correct alright and the McNair program
is actually a United States Department
of Education initiative with a Gulf
increasing attainment of phd's by
students from underrepresented segments
of society he just returned from a study
abroad which he completed in the United
Kingdom Birmingham England Birmingham
England and you have to accent yet
Birmingham from the UK and then he
actually completed his coop GE aviation
sector that's right housework and
military propulsion and power
engineering wow that's that's about me
so Chad aphid and so today we're
actually just gonna start off by just
diving down and going back to your
childhood and when you first mcgrady to
United States which was my husband 2003
its model yeah and when he first got
here he came with no English whatsoever
that's correct
would maybe just a couple words he was
telling me a while back I just pretty
much knew hi hello and it's funny is
because actually when I first moved here
in oh three ACMA it was one of the first
people I see he met we moved into the
same neighborhood pheasant ridge yeah
and it's really funny cuz when we first
moved here it wasn't actually like a
legit move it was more of we told the
u.s. like hey we're coming on a visit
where we want to watch our niece
graduate and the funny part is is just
my mom came with all the check bags like
whole life packed up and as we're coming
through TSA were just saying we're
visiting but it's kind of funny just
because we had everything with us and
just like no one kind of suspected it
and it's hilarious just because
literally within three weeks of being in
the US my mom had me enrolled
school and this was just off a visit a
30-day visit where our visa was expiring
and everything like that it was
life-changing moment but and so can you
Canada stone but some of the challenges
after you immigrated here you and your
mom by ourselves
you left your dad back home so can you
Canada's tell us that most that's a
difficult situation to deal with so so
me personally it wasn't too bad just
because for me it was just the problem
was not knowing English as a kid just
but I had people like I met who spoke
Arabic with me so I kind of made easier
but I'd say uh it's really tough for
parents when you're moving to the u.s.
just because you kind of you hit the
restart button not just on your social
life but your career as well so for my
mom she was actually an electrical
engineer before we moved to the US so
she actually even had her own company
and hired to doing all this she was even
working at IBM as well as the US Embassy
in freshen embassy in Sudan but pretty
much hit the whole restart button and
just in hopes of a maybe I'll get the
engineering job when I moved to us as
well moved and unfortunately just due to
the fact that she was an assistant at
the time she wasn't able to find
employment as an engineer right so went
from being an electrical engineer just
uh working at the daycare actually at
the neighborhood center so she was just
a daycare assistant and I first is just
a volunteering position so she just
volunteer there after uh we pretty much
come home take care of me and wasn't
till like three months in that she
actually had a paid salary and
fortunately the good part of all
subsidized housing is it's only a third
of your paycheck but if you're not
getting paid it's it's just free living
all right and some people I know there's
like this I don't this is stigma about
low-income housing and things like that
but if you're in a similar situation as
I'm it was once upon a time where you
come here to a new country or you're
just moving into a new place that you
have no resources nobody to really give
you a helping hand something like this
is not only an opportunity but it's the
only way to kind of live yeah it really
is like for example with resources one
of the things I have to do it close I we
only have much money at the time just
due to the fact that mom wasn't making
that much more so money that we
was much either to the bills they're
putting food on the table things like
that so for clothes I was very fortunate
to have people in my life that very
close to me such as my friend Jamal
Sanada and at the time you used pretty
much first person I like really latched
onto just because me and just like
played video games together all the time
I was just like we're game heads I just
helped me him just kind of clicked right
away but one of things that you've gotta
help you know though is just kind of uh
it'd be like once every couple months
Jamal would just come through and he'd
have this big trash bag with him her
name was thing but like it put this my
biggest smile on my face just cuz he
always brought clothes for me
so at the time there's one of those
resources that actually has like just
once a year he'd come through with a
trash bag and just be that'd be my
source of clothes just because mom can
actually buy me clothes at the time wow
that's tough but I mean now you got you
got the swag now so J max difficult like
the situation that should be put in he's
got a you got a you got to take what you
can get all right doesn't that point you
weren't working well you got alright
exactly and that's that shows you like
you kind of it's you get you tend to
mature at an earlier age if you're put
into these kind of situations so you
kind of have to say like maybe you
wouldn't be asked knobby as maybe
another child they'd be like no mom I
want this I want this or mom no dad I
want this be like okay I'll take what I
can get
Yeah right which is great and in terms
of just school I'm at at Iowa State
so he's studying mechanical engineering
so you mechanical engineering but it
wasn't always like I came in knowing I
went to the weekend from June okay so
actually I literally graduated a month
after turning 17 and hardest part for me
was knowing what I wanted to do like I
know if you watched what dude he had
that passion for all mobiling streaming
like founders Tesla Lilly and had a
passion for politics for me at a young
age I I really didn't know what I wanted
so like I came in at 17 I was actually
undeclared in my first year second year
went to electrical engineering did not
like that how come honestly for me uh I
really feel like I thrive when working
with groups and one of things I saw is
like challenging areas
like hey here's your word go take this
go on your little corner program come
back give us the answer I really enjoy
that just because it didn't give me much
opportunity to interact with others and
I felt kind of isolated as well as it
was also a mixture of my first year I
was stayed just because I felt like I
experienced what's known as impostor
syndrome hmm I really didn't feel like I
fit in and I first like half I was like
oh maybe I just didn't like my major but
that's kind of when things I dealt with
it kind pushed me away from electro
engineering but I'm glad that I actually
ended up switching and going mechanical
because I actually love it right
actually just one second going back to
this whole imposters because that's
something I've heard of before impostor
syndrome and it happens quite often to
like minorities who feel like I'm
somewhere that I don't belong or I'm
somewhere that I don't deserve to be
just because the fact that everyone
around him isn't look like them yeah
like it wasn't even I actually started
it way before college because for me uh
grow up in Sudan I had never actually
seen a white person in my life
like the first time I see saw a white
person was when we were flying from
Sudan to the US we had a I never forget
it it was a connection in Frankfurt
Germany and I walk out the airport hmm
Lilly just walk out and I'm just seeing
all these people and as a child I'm
like I'm like huh you guys are real life
yeah I've only seen you on TV like what
it right I thought you were only in the
movies yeah then get to the US and I'm
just like oh yeah you're everywhere and
then it was the point where after a
while I was like maybe I'm the odd one
out and like I go into elementary school
I find kind of felt like outcasts due to
the fact that I didn't know he was at
the time as well as I was the only one
that can look like me so I Estonian
through school and then as I got to
college it was just kind of testified a
little bit more just due to the fact
that I have that support system so I
didn't have like everyone I grew up with
the pheasant ridge world such as you
such as your brother hessin and what do
and all that right for sure no and um
just just going back to like that
because this imposter syndrome this
thing is like it's an it's an ongoing
issue in like since society especially
for a first generation student
College so like how did you how did you
I guess navigate across there make sure
like or tell yourself inside look okay I
might look different or I might be
coming from a different background or
whatever I might might have been or like
maybe coming in feeling like I don't
feel comfortable with my own knowledge
base or my own skills or whatever it
might have been whatever reason that was
slowing you down saying like hey I don't
belong here how did you overcome that
specifically that's a good question at
first I looked at it more of as a lack
of like a lack of confidence or just
like I just thought of myself as a shy
person but I think it was later on in
college at kainalu cuz I came it was
more of like I became conscious of the
fact that conscious of the fact that you
know I just didn't feel comfortable I
was like why don't I feel comfortable
like I'm capable of learning just as any
you mean being is like well I don't
perform well in school like at first in
high school because I haven't good
grades I was it's like oh maybe it's not
for me now I realize I'm like wait I can
pick up a book I can read like alright
the only reason I didn't perform good on
my exam was like maybe if I just put
more time to studying in like less time
you know going out playing basketball
all things like that
I do bet on my things and like I became
conscious of that and then it completely
changed everything
especially my grades as part of the
reason home country had the confidence
to even pursue a PhD right and this
whole McNair program cuz now that you
you're in a place where you were able to
get inducted or selected for this
scholar it's a scholarship roots so it's
the it's a program so it's a graduate
program that kind of pretty much guys
you can provide you with the network
necessary to successfully you attain
your PhD okay and it's and I'm guessing
it's pretty selective right they don't
just let anyone uh yeah it's
pre-selected a rigorous process yeah is
a nerve-wracking interview but yeah I'm
did Dada's all those things I guess like
that's awesome
so did you always know you wanted to
pursue a PhD because you went from high
school where you didn't have the best
grades and you didn't really like school
even that last question is like do I
like school like high school I
definitely don't like yeah you met in
college even though I start performing
better I think till is that I don't
really enjoy
school as much I love learning don't get
me wrong but I think school is not it's
not the best environment for learning so
if you look at pretty much everything in
this world like you look at cars you
look at healthcare you look at just
wherever it is you look back at if you
go back 150 years it did not look the
same as today all right if you look at a
classroom and the way we teach it's
almost the exact same and you have
things like Khan Academy which are kind
of like changing it but the change is so
slow and it just doesn't make sense to
me that you can throw in a hundred
people into one lecture right have them
just watch this big lecture and you're
like all right now we get to regurgitate
all that on piece of paper mm-hmm you
can't expect everyone conform to one
style learning one everyone at the end
of days their own individual and has
their own style of learning right that's
their main reason I don't like school as
much but I think the reason I recommend
people stay in school is just it's a
guaranteed formula like it's proven you
go to school get your degree off that
you go off which one do right if you
don't go to school it's just there's no
formula there's no set structure you
don't really know how you're gonna make
it I'm not saying you can't make it you
definitely can but it's harder it's not
guaranteed all right know for sure and
then with the whole pursuing a PhD thing
is that during the course of a PhD
you're doing your own research you're
not confined to that going out classroom
watching a lecture with a hundred other
people you're doing your own project
that that's yeah it's very exciting and
at the same time very scary because my
PhD it's like the way uh Brian Hall he's
someone we caged eat the way he
explained it to me was if you could put
all the world's knowledge into just like
one circle getting your PhD is
equivalent to pretty much popping that
bubble and kind of expanding the circle
of knowledge so it's like you're saying
you can't really if you have a question
you can't really google anything you
can't go ask summer go over your
research paper alright you can use it
for the foundation but then that day if
you have questions you do an experiment
after you do that experiment you get a
data point with that data point you
determine what the answer is
maybe it makes sense maybe it doesn't
but it's useful and a day maybe just
need more
data points you never know you don't
have some know the scary part you could
be doing it for 60 years and have all
this data and just be like I don't know
if this makes sense huh maybe just where
I'm asking yourself the right questions
but yeah Gary you have to know when to
abandon ship that's what they call it
when you just gotta say okay yeah time
to go back to the drawing board know for
sure and then do you know what you want
to do your PhD in as it right now
because I know it's early on you stopped
a couple years left in your undergrad
studies but you kind of know what you're
passionate about in terms of research
and learning I have general interest by
wind call anything a passion and that's
one of the things I'm still trying to
figure out till this day but one thing
that really helped me is uh it's like I
was saying asking the right questions
cuz everyone asked you when you're like
oh you passion about what you like and
those were questions I always got and I
was just like it was nerve wracking I
was just like I don't know I don't know
what I want to do I just didn't have the
answer and that same first time Brian
hall one day he asked me was like maybe
it's not what about what you do like ask
yourself what do you hate like what what
something that really makes you mad like
something that would make you get up in
the morning and work hard mm-hmm I
didn't have the answer at the time but
today I do and for me
I was thinking about my past experiences
in Sudan like what makes me mad it was
the things I saw stood in the fact that
you know half the world lives on a
dollar a day or there's enough food in
the world to feed every single human
being but people still starve things
like that or the education system the
waste currently set up you know usually
got strong words to say about them yeah
no no I definitely got you and just
going back to everything so just you
navigating your way across your
undergraduate studies and whatnot what's
what are some things that you can tell
people even though you're someone who
doesn't believe like you don't believe
that education system is how it should
be there should be there should be more
it should have changed more and more
progressive basically yeah but what
would you say for people who are right
now in the classroom and like you and I
that are getting they're attempting to
get their degrees and whatever whatever
study or whatever course of study there
might be go
through what can you tell them to like
what are some tips maybe you can get
people that have to or that don't like
the style of running that's given to
them but they still have to utilize it I
mean you said earlier you got you play
the cards you've been dealt and this
Amadou says all the time like till this
day I always say you got to do what you
gotta do in order to get what you gotta
get and some we always say but sure you
don't like something but guess what it's
setup it's a system that's proven to
work and it's what you have so use it to
your advantage use your resources and
when you don't have the resources ask
yourself how do I get those resources
it's something matter of being
resourceful I think that's the number
one tip I'd give it to everyone just try
be resourceful cuz you're not gonna have
everything all right
utilize your resources because they're
out there there ask people like hey I
don't have this resource but I see that
you're a will attain that resource you
know like how did you get to that mm-hmm
ask for advice the only thing that's
really something that's always helped me
forget learning well be a learner and
going just talking about learning you
just keep hitting these things than that
it kind of just changes the question no
that's good
but in terms of just learning when you
went out and did your study abroad how
is that being in the UK was that your
first time other than maybe connecting
Airlines or whatever it wasn't my fruit
I've traveled okay decent mile but I'd
say it's the first time uh I left my
community so like although I've traveled
I've always traveled you know like with
close friends but it's the first time
like I was out that comfort zone is the
first time I was integrated with in a
community outside of my own to like
outside the sunís community for me
different environment and study abroad
is one of those things where it's uh the
majority of learning you have is it's
mostly outside the classroom and it
sounds weird to say but you just become
more conscious of yourself the actions
you take so like one of the things for
me was uh I've always had understand
that you know people live just as a
complex life as you do but after going
there it's just something you're more
conscious of that's more
things too you have a better
understanding of your likes and dislikes
and if you're someone trying to find
your pursuit of purpose I think that's
something you definitely need to figure
out you need to know what you like and
what you don't like something that
simple is gonna help you find your
purpose I think that's why I'm a big
advocate for study abroad on top of that
outside of learning it makes you more
marketable for internships as well as
graduate schools it's just the win-win
and who doesn't want to go to a new
country right and once you're neuro like
you can go to a country country for
really cheap so quick example I went to
Spain for 30 euros there and back dank
that's what's up all right and I'm it
again thank you so much for joining us
today on tho your pursuit of purpose
podcast and just one thing that I like
doing is just you for you to give giving
you an opportunity to give one last
thing to the audience to pursue their
own purpose anything you can think of
ask yourself the right questions at the
end of the day no one can give you a
dream like no one can sell you dreams
like people will try sell you dreams but
the end of the day you know yourself
better than anyone you've had the
answers so just be persistent with
yourself and trying to ask those
questions like sometimes like you know
ask yourself oh is I like what do I hate
you're not gonna know it right off the
bat but be persistent just be persistent
with those things and if you're
consistent you'll get to it you said all
the time consistency is key consistency
is key of knowledge is power
I live by that every day and again thank
you so much for joining us today thank
you for having me oh yeah for sure and I
hope to see you next time episode 5
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