Every day, amid strenuous studying and an all-around busy schedule, Somer Smith finds time to help someone. “My day is not complete unless I know that one person is breathing easier because of something that I did for them,” said Smith. “The Lord has laid a burden on my heart to help those in need.” This drive, paired with the gratification that comes with lightening others’ loads, has led Smith toward a pharmacy career. It also helped to make her the Walmart/ Pharmacy Times October RESPy winner.
A third-year student at Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy, Smith’s pharmacy passion was sparked during her teens. Her grandfather, an Alzheimer’s patient, lived in a care facility near Smith’s high school. As she sat with him during her daily visits, Smith observed the difference she was able to make in his life, as well as the host of medications he took. “To this day, I think about the times that I spent with my grandfather,” Smith said. “They serve as daily motivations for me to not only succeed in school, but to master the profession so that I might be able to help someone else’s grandfather or family member.”
Since then, Smith has worked as a pharmacy technician, going on to intern at Baptist East Hospital in Montgomery, Alabama, and USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital in Mobile, where she stresses the importance of counseling patients. “To us, the patient may be just one more sick person to heal and get out the door,” said Smith. “But, to the patient, their health is everything. It is their livelihood, their ability to work, their ability to take care of their family, feed their family, or care for a child.” Smith also has volunteered performing blood pressure and cholesterol checks throughout her community.
All the while, she has maintained top-notch academic standing, winning scholarships and memberships in several honor societies. Smith’s studies are rounded out by a number of extracurricular activities, including student government, the Academic Honesty Committee, pre-pharmacy club, Christian Pharmacists Fellowship International, and American Pharmacists Association (APhA) Academy of Student Pharmacists, among others.
Smith also represented her school as an APhA delegate at the national conference in San Antonio, Texas, this year. “I believe the greatest battle in the field of pharmacy that we must fight is one with lack of awareness,” said Smith.
Smith’s deep caring for others is evidenced by her fervent devotion to feeding the hungry. “The burden of the hungry is something I carry with me each and every day,” she said. “I can’t eat a meal without thinking about the hungry.” Along with chairing Auburn University’s committee of 19 to combat world hunger, Smith organized a 62-mile walk to the state capital to raise awareness of world hunger. She and 4 other students made the arduous trek, and despite suffering injuries along the way, it was prayer and the inner cadence of “feeding the world, one step at a time” that kept Smith going. “As for the walk, the end result was a brand new pair of shoes that had to be thrown away, a few less toenails, blistered feet, and a whole lot of attention to world hunger—I’ll call it a success!”
Perhaps in tribute to her grandfather, Smith has carved out time to play piano regularly at a retirement home in her area. Bringing a smile to the patients is yet another example of her dedication to others. “It was extremely rewarding, because… I have a passion for children and the elderly.”
Following her passion, Smith is planning a pediatric residency upon graduating. “Ultimately, I would love to work as a clinical pharmacist, or in some type of an advanced diagnostic team traveling across the country,” said Smith. “I can say all of this, but ultimately, I am going to go wherever God leads me.”
About the School
Auburn University’s James I. Harrison Sr School of Pharmacy, located in Auburn, Alabama, and established in 1885, is the only public pharmacy school in Alabama and the only in-state institution offering a graduate program in Pharmaceutical Sciences. Also offering postgraduate and continuing education, the school receives 2 to 3 applications for each admission seat in the professional program each year.
The RESPy (Respect, Excellence, and Service in Pharmacy) award is pre- sented to the student who has made a difference in his or her community by demonstrating excellence in pharmaceutical care. For more information, please visit www.PharmacyTimes.com.
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