Kelli Jo Welter (far right): "Student pharmacists have found a home in APhA-ASP."
During the whirlwind of residency interviews, seemingly everybody that I crossed paths with advised me to “be myself.” That’s the best advice they could give when I was venturing out into the unknown to make a decision that was going to change my life? I must admit, I was frustrated at first. I desired a nugget of wisdom that would completely change the way I looked at the process. I wanted something more profound, more revolutionary. But then I realized that I have been challenging student pharmacists over this past year to be themselves. I just phrased it differently. Fearlessly Authentic, the national theme I introduced to the Academy back in March 2019, has been a challenge to student pharmacists to fully embrace their unique qualities and celebrate differences in themselves and others.
Over this past year, I have been inspired (and admittedly, brought to tears a few times) by how student pharmacists have embodied being Fearlessly Authentic. The Facebook profile picture frames, Student Pharmacist articles, and Instagram posts of individuals celebrating being Fearlessly Authentic have filled my heart with joy. Whether it was running for a Regional Officer position last minute or speaking at the microphone for the first time, student pharmacists have found ways to push themselves outside of their comfort zone to grow as leaders and advance the future of pharmacy.
Fearlessly Authentic across the country
From the University of Florida to Washington State University, I have loved seeing the creative spins on the theme for chapter t-shirts. At the University of Nebraska Medical Center, I was so excited to find out that the day of my Student Outreach Visit was also the day that the entire chapter was invited to wear Fearlessly Authentic t-shirts to the general body meeting. I immediately Venmo’d the chapter account for my own t-shirt. Did I love them with all my heart? Yes. Did I also want a reason to wear a t-shirt for the remainder of the day? Also, yes. Did I shed a tear? You know the answer. While the t-shirts bring us all together because we are wearing the same thing, they are symbolic of the community that APhA–ASP helps us create.
Fearlessly Authentic asked you to bring to surface the feelings and passions that set your soul on fire. We also worked together to learn more about how we could encourage each other to bring those passions to the team to build a community. Whether it is at the chapter level, the regional level, or the national level, student pharmacists have been able to find a home in APhA–ASP to achieve our personal and professional goals because we are all supportive of each other’s success.
You inspire me
At the Midyear Regional Meetings this year, we explored the concept of Fearlessly Authentic by mapping out a path to success and realizing that every single one of us has a different path with different goals. Aside from graduating with a PharmD, no two paths look alike. Isn’t that a beautiful concept? Thirty thousand student pharmacists, and each one of us brings something different to this Academy. That is exactly why APhA–ASP is a home for all student pharmacists, regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, career goals, personal goals, and all of the other qualities that make us who we are.
Thank you to those of you who wrote me messages throughout the year about how the theme has inspired you. You all inspire me so much, and it has been an absolute privilege to serve on the National Executive Committee for the past 2 years. Along with my team last year—Nimit, Kara, Mark, and Grace, and my team this year, Sydney, Eric, David, and Andrea, plus Regional Officers, Standing Committee members, chapter leaders, chapter members, and APhA staff—serving alongside all of you to advance the profession and help communities has been an honor, and it is an opportunity that I plan to continue to embrace long after graduation. Whether it’s a national theme or a mentor providing advice, I truly believe that being ourselves is one of the most challenging and most rewarding lessons each of us can learn to give our best to patients and the profession.
Kelli Jo Welter is a final-year PharmD candidate at the Drake University College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences and the 2019–20 APhA–ASP National President.