Pharmacies are often critical touch points for health care in the community, and pharmacists are among the most visible members of the health-care system. With this in mind, Michelle Chin made it her mission to get involved in service throughout her six years as a Pharm.D. student in St. John’s University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.
“When I started college, I wanted to make a positive change in myself and for others,” she explained. “At St. John’s, I learned about the importance of service and giving back, and over the past six years, I have become a new and stronger person as a result.”
Like many students, the native of Hillsborough, NJ, participated in University Service Day each year, and was involved in countless outreach activities in the community surrounding St. John’s Queens, NY, campus. She also lived St. John’s Vincentian mission in her home state, volunteering as a medical assistant at Zarephath Health Center, which provides free health care to the poor and uninsured in Somerset, NJ, and as a member of Somerset County’s Prescription Work Group, which hosts programs that educate the public on issues of prescription drug abuse and misuse.
“Pharmacists have to be engaged with members of the community,” she said. “That’s why altruism is an important characteristic of a good pharmacist. My service work allowed me to gain a better understanding of the needs of the communities I served, and to connect with people.”
As a student in the University’s rigorous Pharm.D. program, Michelle benefited from a diverse mix of classroom, laboratory, and abilities-based learning exercises, and the mentorship of world-class faculty, including Vibhuti Arya, Pharm.D., Clinical Professor, Clinical Health Professions.
“Naturally, Dr. Arya inspires her students to do their best, but she goes above and beyond her role as a pharmacist and professor to contribute great work to advance the profession,” she said. Dr. Arya is an active member of the American Pharmacists Association and was recently elected to the association’s Board of Trustees. “My long-term goal is not only to become a clinical professor, but also to become a leader in pharmacy, just as Dr. Arya has done.”
When she wasn’t in the classroom or volunteering her time in the community, Michelle gained valuable practical experience through a wide range of internships, including positions with the US Food and Drug Administration and Bristol Myers Squibb.
Over the summer of 2019, Michelle was also fortunate enough to land a coveted internship in the Global Quality Assurance Department of Celgene, a subsidiary of Bristol Myers Squibb. “I learned about the product development process and the importance of research and development in discovering and manufacturing new drugs,” she explained. “This experience was very special to me because it was my first one in a nontraditional pharmacy role.”
As Michelle is now set to start the next chapter of her life as a resident pharmacist at Walgreens in Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, she offered sage advice for students who will enter St. John’s this fall.
“Get involved on campus,” she said. “I was able to become very involved in campus activities and had the opportunity to experience virtually almost every aspect of University life. There is a sense of family in the community, regardless of your major. One of the best things about St. John’s is the friendly nature of students.”