First-year student Melinda Conley isn’t a traditional student. She’s a mother, a widow, an overcomer and pharmacist to-be.
When her husband passed away, Conley’s world was rocked. After putting school aside for years, she finally re-enrolled as a civil engineering major. Conley took a job working in the pharmacy section at Target, thinking of it at first as just a job to support her children.
She soon learned that she truly enjoyed the pharmacy profession and wanted to pursue a career in it.
“It was a great experience. I worked with an all-female staff and they were so kind and encouraging,” she says.
From their examples, Conley came to see pharmacy as a warm, people-centered profession that would be a good fit for her.
A few years have passed and Conley is now living out her dream of becoming a pharmacist. She even has the opportunity to share the student experience with someone special – her daughter, who is a sophomore at Bio-Med Science Academy, a STEM+M high school located on NEOMED’s campus.
Some days, her daughter stays after school so the two can study together on campus and have dinner together.
Conley is upfront about the benefits and challenges she faces as a non-traditional student. Having older, self-sufficient children allows her to truly focus on her education. “It’s a lot of time management, crockpot meals and time away from the people who you love,” but it’s worth it to pursue the long-term goal,” she says.
Looking towards the future
In the meantime, Conley has found a niche with NEOMED’s Veterinary Pharmacy Club.
While she hasn’t set her sights on veterinary pharmacy as a career, she has taken an interest in drug research and development.
“Being in the club helps me keep in mind that not all of our patients are human,” Conley1 says. “Sometimes we need to think about how medications will work for people’s pets, because they’re family members, too.”
Even though she’s only in her first year, Conley is in awe of the material her class has learned so far—and ready for more. As she says,
“It’s empowering to have that knowledge and be building on it all the time.”