I felt proud bagging distinction after battling depression

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Titilayo Akinlose

Interview by Motunrayo Akinrun

Titilayo Akinlose recently graduated with a distinction in Pharmacy from Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ogun State. In this interview she speaks on how hard work and determination helped her to surmount the challenges she faced as an undergraduate

Can you describe the moment you found out you had a distinction in Pharmacy?

My name is Titilayo Akinlose and I am 26 years old. I am from Ondo State, Irele-Ikale to be precise. My parents are petty business people. My dad is a thrift collector and my mum is a small-scale trader. My journey toward having a distinction wasn’t rosy at all and just as they would always tell a first-year student, whatever grade you leave a school with is dependent on your first-year grade point average and mine was far below what I expected or wanted.

I was offered admission pretty late and the first semester was already two months gone which made my catching up with the missed classes quite intense, a situation that eventually had a dent on my GPA. This further made my achievement of a distinction seemingly impossible. I had a GPA of 3.77 but with the help of God, sincere determination, and hard work, my GPA gradually began to rise until the 300-level when I was able to hit a GPA of 4.8 and a cumulative GPA of 4.53.

At that moment, I felt I had achieved what I always longed for, as it was obvious that every bit of the hard work I invested had paid off, unknown to me that my excitement was about to be short-lived and what every student feared was lurking around the corner and waiting patiently for me.agosians Lament Stressful Collection Of PVCs

What inspired you to pursue a career in Pharmacy?

My major inspiration came from a patent drug dealer who happened to be the only available drug shop owner in my area at that time. Her knowledge of different medicines and what each worked for baffled me. Most especially, her ability to interpret the doctor’s prescription effortlessly was the icing on the cake and I was solely determined to read prescriptions just like her. Unknown to us, most of her recommendations were mainly for syndromic treatment, so she could mix a capsule of analgesics, antibiotics, blood-building medicines, etc., and ask the patient to take them all at once with little regard to the pharmacology, interactions, and safety of these combinations. Although the patent store was closed down due to some financial problems she had then, I still imagined some places in Nigeria that don’t have access to quality drug acquisition and pharmaceutical care.

How did your parents feel when they got your final result?

My dad was the happiest of all my family members. It felt like a dream come true for him that his investments had paid off after all. Among my siblings, I was the first to have the privilege to have a university degree for a professional course, all thanks to God and my amazing elder sister, Mrs. Oluwayemisi Elkanah.

What was your greatest source of inspiration on campus?

The Holy Spirit and the longing to make my family proud by being the first to achieve this great feat were my greatest sources of inspiration on campus, all glory to God.

Which other challenges did you face during your academic journey and how did you overcome them?

Aside from the academic challenge, I also battled with some health issues. I was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, which is a common medical condition that affects the stomach and intestines, also called the gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms of IBS include cramping, abdominal pain, bloating,   flatulence and constipation, or both. It doesn’t have any known cause or cure. Lifestyle modifications, medications, and diet could provide relief from some of the symptoms. Sometimes, I had to skip classes for doctor’s appointments or go for the scheduled tests, which were expensive and painful.

What kind of company did you keep as an undergraduate?

I kept godly friends, a lot of them. You could tell from afar that they were my people because we thought alike most of the time. If we were not talking about our studies, we were talking about how we could be more useful for God, praying, or how to influence our world for Christ. It was fun having those guys in my life as the relationships helped me avoid unnecessary distractions and always want to put extra effort into my academic work. My friends were the type that would always motivate you to read both in action and in words, and I am glad that our hard work paid off.

Pharmacy is a broad field. Are there any specific areas you were interested in focusing on?

Yes, I am passionate about community health and by God’s grace, I see myself becoming a community pharmacist as this gives me the privilege to give quality healthcare services back to my community at an affordable price. A community pharmacy is one of the health points in Nigeria where many people can reach out to a health professional before they think about going to a hospital. Being a community pharmacist gives me a platform to play a key role in allowing patients to get pharmaceutical care from the treatment to the recovery stages.

In what other ways do you see yourself contributing to the profession and Nigeria’s healthcare industry in the next five years?

I recently graduated from the Carrington Youth Fellowship Initiative where my team won the best project and the Nigeria-America partnership award for the year. My partner, Dr Okolo Innocent, and I founded an initiative called Project Aid Moms, which was birthed to reduce maternal mortality in rural communities by empowering traditional medical officers, who in most cases are the traditional birth attendants, with different skills to improve their services, especially in the procedures of identifying emergency cases and then referring to the nearest teaching hospitals. Although the project is in its pilot stage, it was able to directly save the lives of two pregnant women in Likosi community, Sagamu, Ogun State. They had ectopic pregnancy and fetal intrauterine demise, respectively. These conditions were detected during the free medical diagnostic outreach we had in the community. It was a situation of life and death and our timely intervention and prompt discovery of the medical emergencies allowed the immediate referrals of the women to the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital, Ogun State.

Now that the Carrington year is over for my cohort, I intend to use the privilege as a community pharmacist to reach out to as many communities that don’t have access to quality healthcare services, train the traditional health officers there, and ensure that they have access to quality drug services.

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