Professional Advice / Opinions:

Student Pharmacist Star of the Month: Yining Shao

By: Marie Huang

Each month, Rho Chi Post has the wonderful opportunity to sit down with an inspiring leader among the student pharmacists here at St. John’s University College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions – someone who is not afraid to stand apart from the crowd and can be the change he or she wants to see in the world.  This February, Yining Shao, a 4th year PharmD candidate and, as you know, the organization’s President, speaks with us about the community involvement, his inspiration, and studying abroad.

Q: It is an honor to be here today with Rho Chi’s newly elected president. Tell us, how do you see yourself changing the organization for the better, and through what ways will you reach out to the community of student pharmacists?
A: I plan to expand the organization events to involve not only Rho Chi members but also all of the other students on campus.  In order to provide improved events, I am working with the Biology Students Organization (BSO), the Roger Bacon Scientific Honor Society, and other science-related organizations on campus.  Currently we are inviting children from the local community to come to our campus and participate in an event called “My Vascular Valentine.”  During this event, we will teach the children about being “heart healthy.”  For more community involvement, I am also planning an event with Marie, the current president of Rho Chi at Long Island University (LIU).

Q: Are there any confirmed dates for these events? In addition, from working with these science organizations, what new ideas can you bring to Rho Chi?
A: We have the “Coffeehouse Chats” event date set for March 29, and on February 14, we will collaborate on “My Vascular Valentine.”  There are no official dates yet for the other events.  The science organizations brought up the idea of “My Vascular Valentine.”  I also learned that they hold an annual Jeopardy game with various science topics.  I am trying to have pharmacy organizations included in that event.

Q: Events targeted towards the general populace is a great way to bring the community together.  However, one cannot run an event without any supporters.  How would you instill motivation and encourage involvement in a student body that is composed of stressed peers and students on APPE rotations?
A: Well, since I am one of those stressed students, I know how it feels.  We are planning our events around all of our examination dates and preferably right after major exams.  We believe that students can use our events as tools to relax and unwind after a Drugs & Diseases exam.  We also encourage students of other years, who are less busy and stressed, to lend us some of their energy and enthusiasm.  In addition, our events will be very interesting because they will involve students in the fields that they are learning.

Q: What has been the most rewarding moment or project of your college career?
A: While studying abroad, I experienced the most rewarding moment of my college career; I had the opportunity to volunteer in a soup kitchen in Rome.  Speaking with the locals taught me “all people are generally the same.”  What I mean is that persons from any place, at any age, and of any race, all have their own struggles, beliefs, and dreams.  When I keep this idea in mind, it helps me treat strangers, especially in my case, my patients at the community pharmacy, with dignity and equality.  I think that this is an especially important lesson for persons in a healthcare profession.

Q: Who is the one person, besides your parents or family members, who has always served as an inspiration to you? Moreover, why?
A: C. S. Lewis always inspires me.  Growing up in a Christian home, I have always had the Christian values, but Lewis makes everything real for me.  When I read some of my favorite books by Lewis, things become clearer and more relevant to my life: the state of heaven, good versus evil and human suffering.  These are just some of the important things that I often think about, and Lewis has some grasp in explaining such things in a way that I understand and can apply to my own life.

Q: If you had not selected pharmacy or another health-related study, what profession would you have chosen?
A: I have always had a passion for music.  I think I would want to be a symphony conductor.  There is something about creating beautiful music and stirring emotions in a captive audience.  I would start conducting some classics and then, perhaps one day when I am famous, compose my own piece.

Q: Just for fun: if you, Yining Shao, suddenly became the head of the department, what are some of the changes that you would implement to the D&D courses for the classmen who will be taking the modules starting next semester?
A: Hypothetically, I would separate the Drugs & Diseases courses into two, one-hour classes per day (rather than one, two-hour class).  The earlier class would be one focused on medicinal chemistry and pharmacology, while the later one would be about physiology and therapeutics.  Professors would receive a template so that students would not have to adapt to each professor’s questioning style.  To help students practice and understand the important elements, past exams would also be available to students.

Q: Sounds like you have some great ideas brewing! Perhaps the administration can consider your D&D model in the future.  If you could only have one meal to eat every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A: 梅干菜烧肉 – Mei gan cai shao rou.  My grandparents always make it for me when I see them in China.

Q: Thanks for sitting down with us!  It has been a pleasure.  Do you have any last words for our readers?
A: Remember what Confucius said: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

If you have any additional questions for Mr. Shao, you may contact him at [email protected]

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Published by Rho Chi Post
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