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Pharmacy Residency Podcast

May 9, 2018

Student pharmacist Ahamed Ahamed from the University of Iowa tells an inspiring story of coming to the United States, recognizing the value of education and mentorship and succeeding in school and inspiring others to follow. Check out his new podcast on YouTube


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 today I
have Ahmed Ahmed who starts his p4 year
in a week at the University of Iowa
College of Pharmacy emigrated to the
u.s. back in July 2001 when he was 7 his
family had big plans when they arrived
and their father would be joining them
in three months after the emigrated but
9/11/2001 delayed his father immigration
father's emigration for five years
although times were rough Ahmed could
indulge in a profound luxury education
and this was something he could use as
an outlet ever since he was a kid and
continues to be one to this day he enjoy
Valentine's enjoys volunteering in his
spare time and he has a strong love for
teaching Ahmed welcome to the pharmacy
leaders podcast thank you so much Tony
for having me well everyone's leadership
Road is a little bit different you tell
us a little bit about your leadership
road maybe starting a bit early and let
us know you know met some of the
leadership positions that you took
especially those outside of pharmacy I
think sometimes we focus too much on
being president of this or vice
president of that leadership
opportunities that you've taken as
you've grown up before pharmacy school
enduring absolutely so I guess we can
start maybe in high school is that the
first time I gained a leadership
position and that was actually through
the neighborhood center of Johnson
County where I was elected president of
a youth program called palete program
and basically what this program provided
was a way for children or people who are
interested in college to get exposure to
different universities different
community colleges around town and just
get that exposure from early on so being
president I helped just assist in making
this program successful and helping
without reach in terms of just getting
numbers to join us so people from Iowa
City West High School
I was City City High School and other
people around town so that was really my
first leadership or I guess you could
say an actual leadership position but
after that throughout my schooling and
undergrad and in pharmacy school the big
things that I was a part of was Mesa
which is the multi-ethnic engineering
Student Association and in that I was a
tutor and that's where I actually first
fostered my love for teaching and where
I learned okay I actually do enjoy this
because at the time I was also tutoring
for chemistry and biology during my
undergrad but I wasn't really enjoying
that it was fun but it was just very
students were kinda just in and out and
they just wanted to hurry up and not
really they didn't really care much for
the knowledge but rather this one at the
grade well when it came to these
children it's you saw in their eyes that
they were looking for help they couldn't
understand where they were where they
were in terms of their academics if it
was just maybe geometry or algebra
because they couldn't figure out which
equation to use or how to use it so kind
of figuring out early on that I really
enjoyed helping people navigate through
academia or different subjects that's
where I kind of first got my
appreciation for teaching and over there
I was a tutor so I guess you could
consider that a leadership position I
don't know if it's technically is but
yeah other than that lastly a big
leadership role that I had was in
pharmacy school during my p2 year and
that was helping start the first
Toastmasters club at any College of
Pharmacy in the nation and we created
the club back during my p2 year and it
has been official ever since we've had
many meetings and I'm currently the VP
of Professional outreach so I'm
assisting in that and yeah it was quite
the journey but we successfully did
chartered the club which is now known as
the pharmacy communicators association
cool I like it
so I started Toastmasters around when I
was 12 I don't even know if I was
allowed to be an official member but it
was down at Geico down in Chevy Chase
just right by Washington DC and my mom
had been a longtime Toastmaster and so
was my dad so that everyone
while I would see them together at the
same conference speaking and that just
really kind of propelled me to get in
front of people but a lot of pharmacy
students pharmacists are introverts can
you tell me about the road that you've
taken from someone who's maybe a little
more introverted and how Toastmasters
helped you because in front of the
classroom I actually had students coming
up after me is like man this guy knows
his stuff and it was your presentation
style and content but tell me a little
bit about that road and how someone who
maybe is you know rocked organic
chemistry and did everything they could
but they are absolutely petrified about
getting in front of other people
absolutely and that was definitely me
actually Tony so going back to again to
undergrad times I just remember I had a
public public speaking course and I
hated it because how nervous I would be
just walking up to give a speech it was
probably the most thing that I figured
in my life I just remember my legs would
shake uncontrollably even if I tried I
would go up there be like all right it's
gonna be okay right when I got up there
and I looked at the crowd I was like oh
crap here he go so it was honestly
something that I was always petrified of
but then thankfully I went one of my
friends who's actually a colleague of
mine at the College of Pharmacy his name
is Muhammad Frederick's and he's one who
introduced me to Toastmasters and he
told me
we're actually gym buddies so we just
left we used to live together and
whatnot and he told me he was like hey I
go to this thing called Toastmasters and
I was like oh that sounds kind of cool
what is it about and you know he kind of
gave me the screw and I was like public
speaking no thanks maybe another time or
something so one day he's just like no
you're gonna come with me just come and
see how the meetings play out and what
not so I decided to join him it was
actually a club in North Liberty and
when I went I remember just sitting
there just in observing different
peoples from different professions
different backgrounds it was a very
diverse group of individuals and they're
all standing there
one by one taking turns going up in
front of each other which was again
considered a safe space is what the
Toastmasters liked to call it it's a
place where you can learn how to
communicate how to public how to enhance
your public speaking skills your
leadership skills and things of the sort
in this room where it's like everyone
everyone's coming here to learn and
because it didn't feel like that
classroom setting which was what I was
exposed to in the past and that's what
made me Petra broad I was like I know
these guys like they know me there they
might be like oh what's wrong with this
guy why is he being all weird up front
or whatever it might have been but Homer
at Toastmasters that wasn't that wasn't
the case everyone knew what the goal was
you're paying money from your pocket to
come here to become a better public
speaker so I remember I just I love the
environment and slowly but surely I just
kept going to meetings and I was like
wow this is really cool I'll go up there
this went up a few times gave my spiel
and gave just some speeches from my from
my own self and then thereafter Mohammad
was like so what you think
over time and I was like wow this is
this is definitely great and I
definitely and he did someone who
actually proposed he's like why don't we
just start our own Club at the College
of Pharmacy and I was like hey that's
not a bad idea why not so we proposed it
and he went to the Dean and whatnot and
now we're here pharmacy communicators
Association awesome well I know Dean
Letendre is uh is a pretty powerful
speaker when he speaks people listen and
I I think that right now is we're
looking for advocacy we're trying to
articulate our value to Congress
especially as we work for provider
status what would someone do now to get
involved so can anyone get involved
pre-pharmacy or do you have to be p1 p2
how would someone get involved in the
club and what's happening to the club
now that you're gonna be a p4 yeah so
right now we just actually elected the
new exec board for our club at our
college and what we're doing is there's
other colleges around so Drake
University and I'm not sure who look
what I'm sure there's other colleges
that have reached out to us and asked
hey we like this whole postmasters
things that you guys initiated and we're
pretty interested so we're kind of going
around or as the exact team we're kind
of help other colleges start their own
clubs but as of right now at the college
it's four P ones through fours faculty
as well as graduate students at the
college so if you're at the chemistry or
the med chem department or forgetting
your PhD or whatnot because a lot of
them are also the introverted type of
personality so they also want to get
better at the public speaking skills and
even our own professors which is it
surprised me but
are one of our faculty mentors Vern du
Bois he's actually been a big advocate
of Toastmasters cuz he was like there's
a lot of professors who they know how to
teach but they're not necessarily good
public speakers so even though you think
one and one and two go together it's not
necessarily true yeah okay
well let's uh let's take it back to the
lead program a little bit this is
something you do outside of the college
but obviously extremely important to you
I want to talk about my experience a
little bit when I started college I
started college as in the summer after
my junior year of high school I took
calculus one I was about to fail it so I
withdrew then took calculus one again in
the fall and got a B and then I failed
calculus two so I was my dad's an
immigrant my mom never went to college
both are very articulate speakers now
because of Toastmasters both are
successful in their professions but I
didn't really understand what college
was so how do you explain to someone in
the lead program what college is
especially if you're talking about
something like an English major or a
math major or what the value is of going
to school and then we'll talk about the
value of pharmacy absolutely so outside
of this holy program was also I was also
I got to partake in volunteering for the
Big Brothers Big Sisters program where I
was working with the second call was
achieving manhood and there I was
helping at City High School with eight
different individuals where we kind of
just helped them figure out what they
want to do with their lives because they
weren't at the greatest place most of
them what had you know personal issues
or academically they were just not very
they're not very strong or whatever it
might have been did they all had their
own circumstances but nonetheless we
tried to just figure out how can we get
these kids to understand what college is
really is because they kind of saw
education and a lot of people do see
education this way as something that is
a burden and that's a problem because
it's all about perspective when you if
you ask me so when you look at a child
or look at an individual who's
interested in learning more who wants to
be successful it's like okay I can kind
of give you a road map or a blueprint
but what I need you to understand is
school and education is not
mirdon what you need to see it as is an
opportunity so that's kind of the
approach that we tak that's the approach
we went about in terms of helping mentor
these kids where we were just like okay
so if you see school wasn't burden if
you see studying as a burden what if I
can just change your perspective and
make it seem as an opportunity because
it's all about perspective again so they
saw slowly but surely at first like I
don't want to give out exact numbers but
let's just say the cumulative GPA with
all the kids that we were working with
was really low and we saw progression
why is that and it's because like they
had people like myself and other mentors
around to reach out to and even tutoring
because they started understanding okay
I don't just graduate high school and go
out and work a minimum-wage job to
become successful because of something
as was like okay how do you perceive
success so that's something we would ask
them it's like what is your perception
they're like oh I want to be a
I want to make six-figure salary I want
to achieve the American Dream so I'll
say okay how do you achieve this without
going to college and some of them gave
me honest answers and they're like I
want to be a rapper I want to do this
and I'm just like okay that might be a
plan a but statistically speaking what
are the chances of you becoming a rapper
or what are the chances of you becoming
an athlete like you know and going on if
you don't really have the talent there
and if you do have the talent I'm not
gonna you know break or like destroy
your dreams but rather let's just look
at what are possible ways for you to
navigate this success of the success
Discs excuse me the success that you
want to achieve by instead looking at
the way that other people have done it
or where you're statistically more
likely to achieve it so is that okay so
let's just kind of change the
perspective so they see education an
opportunity to reach their dreams and
their success their successes well I
know that students would love to do
things like this but I know that when I
would always try to get somebody
involved in something it was always I
just don't have time I just don't have
time how do you create a both/and
approach to time management within
pharmacy schools so you can both get
this fulfillment from the actual process
of being in pharmacy school instead of
okay well I'm just gonna suffer during
pharmacy school and then my life begins
after that but no way it begins at
to residency no wait it begins after my
first couple years no wait you know so
there's just kind of this pushing it off
but it sounds like you're in enjoying
and finding a tremendous fulfillment
during pharmacy school how do you how do
you find the time do you sleep
absolutely now I definitely get my sleep
you can ask anyone about that but you
know it's the real thing that I could
say is if you know you have a passion
for something outside of pharmacy school
you have and you know that you do you
can make some out because there's 24
hours in a day and of that let's say
according to the gold standard you need
eight hours of sleep instead of another
sixteen and over the sixteen if you're a
pharmacy student or a professional
student college student you're gonna be
in class four to five hours a day
all right let's subtract that and then
as well as maybe four to five hours a
day studying you stopped an additional
additional amount of time to kind of
choose what you want to do with it
you can lay around bed just watch
youtube videos or just google things and
waste your time play video games and
don't get me wrong I like doing those
things but it's like okay so academics
is a priority of mine right and then I
also have other priorities because I'm
passionate about them outside of school
so I was passionate about because I felt
indebted to my community I felt like I
had to give back to these kids because
without mentors that helped me get to
where I am I wouldn't be where I
wouldn't be here today in this podcast
or even in this rotation so with all
that being said it was just kind of like
I knew I had the passion for it so I was
like okay I'm gonna make the talk for it
okay so a lot of people may not know
what it is to grow up poor my parents
kind of took that hit for me so when we
were really young
my parents moved us into a wealthy
neighborhood but we were so poor we had
sheets on the windows we couldn't afford
drapes we couldn't afford anything nice
for the house we were just he just knew
that if if he could put a house in a
nice neighborhood then I would be with
students that were a much you know of a
higher caliber and then the bar was just
at a different place so it wasn't when I
went to high school it wasn't if you're
going to college it's which college you
were gonna go to and the bar was just so
much higher tell me a little bit about
what it is to really struggle you
maybe areas where the the sediment isn't
we're all going to college exactly no
that's that's a really good point and I
just remember like growing up obviously
I didn't really we didn't have much to
appreciate in terms of a big house or
anything we always lived in a
two-bedroom apartment when we first
immigrated and then a 3-bedroom
apartment a little while after that but
and knows my two siblings my mother and
I tell my father joined us but just kind
of expanding from what she said in terms
of living conditions and kind of
prioritizing academics because as an
immigrant family the number one thing
that our parents and most kids could
probably say the same thing that I can
is that they instill this thing about
education education education education
and as a kid you know you're kind of
hard-headed at first and you're just
like school and I'd rather go play
outside I'd rather do this and you know
we saw winter now it's the coding is
kind of cold maybe I should stay inside
and study so things like that kind of
helped a little bit of course but it was
again just see how they struggled and
how they gained cuz as an immigrant they
don't tell you when you're overseas hey
when you get to America you're not gonna
be living in a big house with a nice car
it's gonna be rather hey you're gonna
live in an apartment where drugs and
alcohol are prevalent all around you and
your kids can they have no guarantee to
kind of make it even out of high school
so this was kind of a reality check for
my parents and a lot of people around us
and I have many anecdotal experiences
with different people and individuals
who didn't make it to where I got to
make it today including just even close
friends so it's kind of it's unfortunate
that that's the cards that they were
done everything when they got here
but it was just the reality of it so me
being able to see what they struggled
through and I kind of struggled through
it as well but I didn't work 80 hours
like my mom didn't I was at home and she
just made it hey Peyton get to your
school and pay attention to your school
that's all I want from you just show me
a report card at the end of the
trimesters through high schools and
middle school and in college same thing
like I don't know many Carson is that
after each semester they show their
parents their grades the law actually
prevents it exactly but at our house it
was like hey I just want to make sure
you guys are doing well that was their
only guarantee so that was the way that
we were raised up and I know a lot of
people could say this
anything but I was just again shown
being able to appreciate things because
it was like hey if I go if I really this
is a country where meritocracy is based
off academia where you can go as far as
you want as well as long as you do well
in school so I remember I hate it like
in undergrad I just want to go to
pharmacy school but I'm we're struggling
through class and I was like why am I
doing this and just reminding myself hey
there's a light at the end of the tunnel
I remember how much your parents went
through when they first got here
so kind of just having that at the back
of my mind at all times especially when
you know taking ochem one with microbio
and but they were so tough it was
definitely not easy but I was just like
man I definitely need to do this so I
can not only paved the way for myself
and my family but rather the next
generation to come for them to have
mentors to look up to well I want to
talk a little bit about network I think
that as pharmacists it's kind of a shame
that as we graduate we actually go to
our individual residences or individual
jobs and all of this you know
collaboration and and doing things in
groups and together kind of dissipates
and we don't really have groups going to
like a residency or a think taker things
like that when my dad came here he was
the first of his brothers and to come
here so he took the initial hit had the
biggest learning curve but there are
always people in his Hispanic community
that really helped him and that guided
him how some of the people in the
immigrant network that you've been in
helped you what what do that how of the
mentors helped you and then even just
with places to stay and things like that
during a ppes
how are you kind of tying in to that
network that's really sounds like it's
helping you a lot oh absolutely
Wow so it's actually really it's awesome
like the majority of my friends are
outside of pharmacy school and I'll be
the first to admit like I I do have my
friends that I met at school which is
great but the original friends that I
made when I first came to the country
and everything of that sort it's just
kind of like we kept this bond together
and the majority of our Sudanese
American because we have such similar
backgrounds our parents came here with
nothing and we all have this hunger for
success so growing up it's like we kind
of kept the
other accountable and having them now
obviously within retrospect we weren't
thinking about what was gonna happen
were College and moving forward but I
have friends that are engineering
students here at Ames Iowa have friends
that are exciting business some friends
that are Medical School in couldn't
including my younger brother my sister
studying political science it's just
this huge diverse this huge amount of
diversity that's amongst all my friend
group as well as now I can consider it
my network which cuz they just overlap
really well on top of one another but
it's really helped me out because for
example right now I'm staying in Ames
Iowa with a couple of my friends that I
knew from way back when I immigrated
here back in the early 2000s because
then they didn't even hesitate I was
like hey guys I'm gonna be in Des Moines
Iowa for five weeks and I don't have a
place to stay
can you guys help me find a place
they're like oh just stay with us in our
apartment I was like well that's kind of
you know it's three guys to that to
bathroom I'm just like I don't know no
you're staying with us so they don't
even give me a choice so that's just the
kind of the friendship that we have and
even like the network and in terms of
professionalism and in terms of just
development self development we all keep
each other accountable and we keep
teller motivated and that's the thing
anytime someone succeeds we all succeed
together and that's how we've always
looked at it so when a friend of ours is
graduating from a different state or a
different City we're all going out there
first graduation and if someone's
struggling or someone's having an issue
we'll help them find a resource to make
sure that they succeed or surpass this
issue that they're having so that's just
kind of how this friend group ended up
being now my network and I just I
believe that I'm just gonna always have
them right by my side there they're all
my brothers and sisters basically that's
amazing I'll tell you one more story
about an immigrant network that I heard
of I didn't see it myself but so it used
to be that in Maryland the the
Association would go down to the State
House say you know these dir fees are
really hurting us and this and that but
there was an indian-american network in
Maryland of 85 pharmacist owners all of
a sudden the the group went from 1 to 85
or 2 from from you know the
representative and the attorney so to
and that kind of collaboration is really
what we need you know as pharmacy goes
forward so we'll do another interview
with you I want to keep it around 20
minutes but the one last question that I
want to ask you is what are the things
that you would recommend for somebody
that's just getting into their p1 year
to make the most out of the three years
that you've had because you're two days
away from your your final year in
pharmacy school but if you could go back
and make it I don't want to say more
meaningful but make it more tied to what
you knew was gonna come in what
recommendations would you have for a
younger pharmacy student absolutely and
I think the most important thing looking
back to p1 years I'll tell myself hey
don't focus solely on grades and your
classes go out there and find other
things to do at the College of Pharmacy
because for me was I was involved with
all these different organizations
everything beforehand so I kind of stuck
with them but once I got to the college
I was like alright this is it
I have four years and while I'm here all
I'm gonna do is study study study get
the best grades that I can to make sure
I get that degree because that was my
only that's that's the only thing that I
saw was that I'd get value of or value
from at the college which was not true
and I learned this the hard way because
my whole first year I wasn't involved in
any organizations I joined a PHA ASB
sure I joined you I ship or a SHP our
chapter at the University of Iowa sure
but I was just a member I wasn't active
I didn't get to expand my network early
on and this was unfortunate and I did I
realized after my p2 you're taking all
the tough therapeutic classes and
pharmacology classes I was like hey okay
maybe I need to figure out what it is I
want to do and the only way I can do
this as maybe figuring out who's doing
this right now or currently and reach
out to them and I didn't have those
people to reach out to but if you're
involved in student orgs from your P one
year like community pharmacy student ORS
or hospital pharmacies you have you
build a network and I think that's the
most valuable thing you get on pharmacy
school outside of the academic portion
of it it's like hey you're gonna build
connections with people and individuals
that after you graduate or before you
reach out to them and say hey I want to
do what you do how do I get there how
can I do it and that's the thing and
also building friendships and I think
that's also that's way for you to stay
saying like I can say without making the
friends that I made during my p1 year I
probably made it out cuz it was again we
had that whole study group approach when
it came to exams and I needed that it's
because sometimes those therapeutic
exams are tough not sometimes all the
time yeah yes oh make sure just get get
out there don't even if you're an
introvert like myself just leave your
comfort zone and say hey I'm gonna I
want to be more involved get into some
student orgs and don't don't be shy to
even leave and venture out of your
college so even if you have to call the
pharmacy go out and see what the rest of
the campus has to offer because you
might be in an entirely new campus or
entirely new environment but there's
other people were everyone else that's
going in is also in the same boat as you
are all right oh man thanks for being on
the pharmacy leaders podcast you Tony
thank you for listening to the pharmacy
leaders podcast with your host Tony
Guerra be sure to share the show with
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