Coming Home to Pharmacy School

October 2, 2014

Twenty-five years ago, I was an incoming freshman at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science.

Twenty-five years ago, I was an incoming freshman at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science. It was what one would call a modest campus that fit into the equivalent of a city block, with the Breyers ice cream factory adding a scenic view from my dorm room at 1 St. Mark’s Place. What it lacked in scenery and amenities, it more than made up for in the education it provided me, as I now look back on those 5 years as the most formative of my life.

Today, the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy is only a part of the medical science juggernaut now known as the University of the Sciences. I have gone back every few years to check things out and have been amazed at the progress that the institution has made over the years. That Breyers factory has been replaced with a state-of-the-art health and fitness center, a science and technology center, and a few other things that boggle my mind.

This past spring, I was invited to be the keynote speaker at my 20-year college reunion. I remember audibly whooping it up when I read the email. It seemed that my story of weight loss and passion for preventive medicine had made its way to the school, and I graciously accepted the invitation.

The night before the event, my wife, Sheryl, and I made our way to Philadelphia for a reception at The Track, which is the old bar I used to frequent, regardless of legal drinking status. For 5 years, Larry was the bartender who always poured beers and never asked questions unless the staff was tipped off about being raided and gladly showed us the door. I walked into the bar and Larry was still there, not looking a day older. The Track is a dive and always was, but I had never noticed the squalor until now. Still, it was great to be there.

On Saturday, I gave my talk, which offered a bullet-point version of my book and discussed how that story can be used in my profession to aid in the battle against obesity. Pharmacists who know what they are doing in preventive medicine can be incredibly beneficial to the health care team. USciences President Helen Giles-Gee, PhD, and Board Chairman Marvin Samson, a pharmacy legend, were quite taken with the presentation. If I have ever crushed a speech, it was that one.

It was great to be back at school and to reacquaint myself with the intrepid Bill Kelly and Elleni Pippis, who were my only classmates to attend the reunion. Unlike my high school reunion, where I felt like I didn’t fit in after 2 hours, I was as comfortable as if I were in my living room, and I was as home as I was going to get in such a metropolis. I most certainly will return.

Jay Sochoka, RPh, will always call it PCPS.