APhA Student Leadership Award recipient: Connor Anderson
Interview with: Connor Anderson, Ferris State University
1. As you reflect on your student pharmacist experience thus far, what are some of your favorite memories?
The memories I have made over these past few years as a student pharmacist I will cherish forever. The most unforgettable among them were the laughs shared and time spent with my roommates Anton, Richie, Ricky, Sam, Brandon, Kris, and Gene. Traveling to extraordinary locations for APhA–ASP to meet new friends and future colleagues also tops out my list. Working with my fellow APhA–ASP Region 4 Regional Officers Alex Hutchinson and Allyson Beechy, as well as regional and national officers across the country, has been the privilege of a lifetime. Pharmacy school has taken me to some unexpected and unique places—all it really took to make a memory last was being present with those by my side.
2. Pharmacy school is demanding, especially when you add on additional activities. How do you manage all of your responsibilities?
Looking back on all that I have done in pharmacy school, I am perplexed at how I survived. I held three different leadership positions and have just begun a fourth on the APhA–ASP National Awards Standing Committee, maintained two pharmacy internships for my first 2 years before transitioning to a different intern role in my third year, and have pursued an MBA alongside my PharmD. The thing that kept me sane through it all was taking things one day at a time. I always had a long-term goal as my guiding light. After that, getting lost in the learning process and allowing myself time to have fun in between the chaos gave me the mental capacity to power through even the busiest of times.
3. What are some of your favorite leadership tools and/or resources?
I have begun to cultivate myself as a leader through book reading and real-world application. I was lucky enough to enroll in the first-ever leadership development course at our college of pharmacy, where we read through several texts related to concepts in leadership and self-development. This introduced me to the genre and I have had new titles on my shopping list ever since. My favorites so far include The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle, Drive by Daniel H. Pink, and Atomic Habits by James Clear.
4. What does being a leader mean, and what does being selected for this award mean, to you?
The word “leader” is a very dynamic term. The definition you will find in any dictionary is very literal: a leader is the person who leads or commands a group, organization, our country. However, this interpretation does not outline the characteristics a leader must have. They are fluid depending on the personality of the leader and the context of their work. Throughout my experience, only one attribute has remained the same in every context: a leader is only as great as the emotional response they evoke in others. Punctuality, leading by example, authenticity, and strong communication skills are all essential qualities. However, they are only a baseline from which to grow. Great leaders know that driving positive emotions out of an individual and into their work results in the best outcomes for that person and for the team.
5. What’s next for you?
With the recent COVID–19 outbreak, my future appears less clear than ever and may change rapidly in the months to come. That said, I plan to continue my clinical training as a final-year student pharmacist at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City, MI. After exploring various areas of pharmacy practice and solidifying my areas of interest, I plan to pursue residency and work as a pharmacy specialist in cardiology and emergency medicine, ideally leading to a role in administration and active contribution to legislation that helps increase access to health care in the communities I serve.