UC pharmacy student finds her home at UC
Leah Ibrahim says she truly enjoyed her experience as a pre-pharmacy undergraduate in the College of Arts and Sciences. However, unlike some of her classmates, she wasn’t ready to say she had found her sense of place.
Once she entered the James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy, everything changed. "I’ve fallen in love with the pharmacy school because it’s a little smaller, and I feel as though I know my professors and my classmates so well,” she says. “Even during orientation, Associate Dean Kelly Epplen said, ‘If you guys ever need to talk to me, just come to my office and we can work out a study plan.’ And I’m thinking, ‘This is so perfect; this is the right place for me.’ It was so cool to find that.”
Leah was born in Cleveland to parents who had moved to the United States from Lebanon in the Middle East to escape ongoing civil war. She is a first-generation student who nevertheless comes from a highly academically motivated family. All three of her older siblings went to college, and one of her brothers is a physician.
At UC, scholarships change lives
“College was something I always aspired to go to,” Leah says. “But we never had a college fund or anything like that. It wasn’t in the books for us. We knew that loans and scholarships were going to have to be a big part of our college experience.”
Leah, who moved to Cincinnati with her family when she was in high school, was awarded several scholarships. “The financial assistance was a weight off my shoulders,” she says. “I felt very grateful. I want donors to know how important their donations are. Giving to UC changes students’ lives every day. I genuinely wish I could go up to these donors and say, ‘Thank you so much!’”
Leah says she has benefited greatly from the experiential learning opportunities that the College of Pharmacy provides. Those opportunities include rotations at community pharmacies and in hospital settings. “I learn by doing, and I’m just an overall anxious person,” Leah says. “It does calm me down a bit to get my foot in the door before being thrown into the real world.”
Leah also values the college’s strong commitment to mental health. Among the most visible signs of that commitment are formal recognition of Mental Health Week and a meditation room where students can unwind, meditate or pray. “Our neuro-divergent students use the meditation room frequently,” Leah says. “It’s a nice place to go if you’re dealing with finals or other stressful situations. The way UC looks at mental health is very important to me. It makes me proud to say ‘Look at what my school is doing!’ They’re on top of it.”
Following her remaining three years of pharmacy school, Leah hopes to obtain a two-year pharmacy residency, which would enable her to specialize in psychiatric pharmacy. Her overall goal, however, is a universal one—to live in the sweet spot of mental and physical health. “Wherever I am in five years,” she says, “I just want to be happy.”
Featured image at top: Winkle College of Pharmacy. Photo/College of Pharmacy.