Figure skater turned pharmacist

STUDENT PHARMACISTS GOT TALENT

As a child, I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA, gliding along the ice, spending hours at ice rinks, and chasing the Olympic dream of being a competitive figure skater. I competed in both singles and pairs skating. During my figure skating career, my partner and I qualified for five U.S. National Competitions and one international event. 


In high school, while preparing for the competition that would qualify my partner and I for nationals, I fell 9 feet and landed on my back when my partner held me over his head for a split double twist lift. I didn’t know it at the time, but this incident would eventually lead me to the pharmacy profession.


Time to make a choice


As a skater, you fall excessively before perfecting an element. You practice things over and over again until you get it just right. Determination is a key element to being an elite athlete. After my spill, I was not about to give up on my dreams, and my partner and I competed the following week and landed a spot to compete at the 2005 U.S. Nationals a few months later. 


After competing and qualifying for an international competition at the U.S Nationals, I still had excruciating pain in my back and returned to the doctors to investigate the issue. It turned out that I had a fracture, and the muscles and tissues surrounding it had been damaged as well. My physician explained that I could continue training and not be able to walk when I am 40 or have any children, or I could quit and focus on something that had less of an impact on my back.


I continued skating for a while wearing a plastic back brace and tried ice dancing, which had a lower impact on my back. However, I found myself missing the jumps and difficult lifts and throws that I loved. I was still obsessed with skating and couldn’t imagine life without it, but I wasn’t enjoying it. I quickly realized that I either needed to skate to my full potential or it was time to try something else in life. I decided to pursue higher education and immediately dove into my studies at school and started applying for colleges. 


A new passion


I chose to attend The Ohio State University and through an advisor in the health care college, I picked a Bachelor of Pharmaceutical Sciences as my area of study while also pursuing a dance minor for enjoyment. I began volunteering in the hospitals on campus and accepted a job at Kroger Pharmacy. 


With as much dedication and determination as I had had with figure skating, I immersed myself in the pharmacy world. My studies led me to the PharmD program at the Midwestern University Chicago College of Pharmacy. I immediately got involved with my Twlug–ASP Chapter and along with a team of fellow students, I worked on the Medication Therapy Management/Collaborative Health Advocacy Team (MTM/CHAT for short) project. This is a multidisciplinary diabetes self-management education initiative that provides diabetes education to members of the underserved communities of greater Chicago. We worked together to run six different clinics. 


I found a new passion in pharmacy to dedicate my life to and I have skating to thank for the determined person that I have become. Through the stresses of life, skating has and always will be a great way for me to remember who I am. When I step on the ice now, everything else going on is left at the door. It is a place where I feel the safest and can completely enjoy myself and release stress. 


A dream proposal


In addition to the ice being a place to de-stress and balance the chaos of pharmacy school and life, this past year my fiancé chose to propose to me at a skating rink! After a stressful week of finals, he took me to Millennium Park in Chicago by the famous “bean” sculpture. He convinced me to wear rental skates (which I had not done since I was a little girl), played our favorite song, “Then” by Brad Paisley, and got down on one knee in the middle of the ice and proposed. It was a figure skater’s fairy tale proposal! 


Figure skating will always be a part of me. I couldn’t ask for skating to have given me anything else in life, but I know that it has shaped me into the person I am today and the health care provider I will become in the future.