Pharmacy student turns rejection and family inspiration into pursuit of her dream career

Chidi Ekwueme, third-year HSC College of Pharmacy

By Krista Roberts

It is often stated that the most powerful motivation is rejection.

Chidi Ekwueme, a third-year HSC College of Pharmacy student, would agree with that sentiment. The first time she applied to pharmacy schools, her only invited interview did not end in an offer. She could have given up or pursued another career, but she chose to regroup and forge ahead.

She fought for a second chance with more motivation than ever.

“When I decided to apply, I wasn’t coming from the strongest academic background,” Ekwueme said. “I had to work hard to make connections with pharmacists, take extra classes, and enhance my skills and strengths to have a chance at my dream.”

The second time around, she scored three offers, ultimately choosing HSC’s College of Pharmacy.

After her parents immigrated from Nigeria to Texas and started a family, Ekwueme grew up witnessing her mother’s dedicated pursuit of a nursing education. Her mother balanced raising four children with her higher education.

Her mom flourished in her nursing career and after recently earning a master’s degree, she is working as a nurse practitioner with geriatric patients.

“My mom inspired me to reach my goals,” Ekwueme said. “She made sure that we never lacked in anything. I hope to give back to her someday what she’s given to me and my brothers.”

Ekwueme was first introduced to the pharmacy profession as a college student while volunteering for her uncle, a community pharmacist.

“I really liked how he built authentic relationships with his patients while also keeping their wellbeing a top priority,” she said. “It inspired me to pursue a career in pharmacy.”

After that first pharmacy school rejection, she pursued a job as a pharmacy technician, enrolled in more courses and began a more focused journey to become a pharmacist, further fueling her passion for the profession.

“Learning more about pharmacy operations and seeing the impact I could make on our patients solidified my decision to fully consider pharmacy as a career. It took a lot of hard work and dedication to get here,” she added.

Her hard work has paid off multiple times over. She is not only a model student as an official HSC student ambassador and social media influencer, but she is also growing as a leader.

As President of the Black Professional Pharmacy Association (BPPA), she has high goals, including continuing the organization’s efforts to support and nurture Black/African American students on campus, to create a safe space for them to realize their potential, and to contribute to the conversation about health disparities among minorities.

“This role is helping me prepare to be a pharmacist through leading a team, learning how to work and communicate with others, and serving others,” she said.

Volunteer work through the BPPA has resulted in valuable learning outside the classroom.

“I have seen how communities are impacted by not having access to quality health care,” she said. “It has been rewarding to fill those gaps and serve the community by administering vaccinations for adults and children and providing health screenings, such as blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol checks.”

Ekwueme has experienced chronic knee pain for much of her life. With the help of a community pharmacist who recommended over-the-counter medications, she has been able to forge ahead with the things she thought she wouldn’t be able to do, such as standing for long hours, riding a bike and running.

“That’s how I want to make people feel with my drug or treatment recommendations, whether it be in a hospital or clinical setting,” she said. “I want to be a pharmacist because I enjoy helping people, whether it’s advising them on the best medication to take, finding a solution and optimizing treatment, or making them feel better with something I recommended for them. That is my why.”

You can inspire students like Chidi to pursue their dreams by contributing to our HSC Student Scholarships today.

Donate to HSC Student Scholarships

Graduate School is an investment. Parents save dollars to help loved ones fulfill professional ambitions such as becoming the family’s first doctor or pharmacist. Students juggle jobs and graduate studies to pay tuition bills.

Scholarships help ease the financial burden and bring peace of mind to students. Growing HSC’s scholarship pool would allow us to help more students.

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