The steps Zachary Martin takes across the stage at Tennessee Tech’s commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 6 will not be his last as a scholar. He has been accepted to pharmacy program at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis and is among a growing number of Tech’s pre-professional health sciences students getting accepted into professional schools.
Martin, a DeKalb County resident, will earn his bachelor’s degree in chemistry, but he knew he wanted to be a pharmacist and a bachelor’s degree is not required for admittance to pharmacy school. However, once Martin got to Tech and became involved in all that the pre-professional health sciences concentration had to offer, he chose to see his bachelor’s degree through at Tech.
“I worked with a couple pharmacists who had been to Tech, and they said among professional schools Tech is recognized for producing well-prepared students,” Martin said. “That gave me confidence to know that if I could do this, I could be accepted anywhere.”
And when it comes to getting into professional schools, the application and interview process can be tough.
Marina Naguib, who will also receive her bachelor’s degree on Saturday before heading to the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, remembers the feelings she had before her optometry school interview.
“I was very nervous,” Naguib said, “but I talked with my advisor, who told me what to expect and did a practice interview with me. That was so helpful and made me feel so much better.”
Naguib knows that it’s easy to become discouraged or be intimated by the idea of applying to tough professional programs, but she says she felt encouraged by everyone she encountered at Tech.
“Through the Chem-Med Club, I got to meet with an optometrist who talked about how she struggled through getting into school,” Naguib said. “She gave me hope that even if I didn’t make it the first time, I could do it.”
Shikha Amin will take her degree in chemistry from Tech with her to dental school at the Medical University of South Carolina, but it is more than just her degree that she will carry with her.
“I think classes have prepared me to do well,” Amin said. “I have had such great relationships with all of my professors. That’s what I love about the chemistry department. It is like one big family. The faculty and staff really see the good in you.”
Add that to the undergraduate research and teaching assistant opportunities that she’s had and Amin says she is confident moving on to dental school.
Like Martin, Lana Ngo didn’t have to have her bachelor’s degree to get into pharmacy school.
“I wanted to it,” Ngo, who has been accepted to the pharmacy program at the University of Florida, said. “Especially here, being in the chemistry department, the relationships and encouragement I have had is worth all of the hard work I have put into it.”
Health sciences at Tech is not a degree granting program, though many students in the program earn degrees. It is designed to allow students to follow a curriculum path that meets their interest and ultimately makes them well-rounded candidates for professional health schools.
“The professors here are totally on your side,” said Emily Carney, who is headed to the pharmacy program at Belmont University after finishing this semester at Tech. “They want you to learn and to be able to share that knowledge in your future job. They are here to be your teacher but it’s more than that. They take so much pride in your education and it is extremely encouraging.”
Health sciences students get personalized advisement within the chemistry department to ensure that the work they are doing at Tech will take them to where they want to go.
“They make sure you get the classes you need in. They remember your name. They know you. They remember what your major and concentration is,” Martin said. “I never felt like I was doing this alone.”
And they have a reputation of doing that well.
“When I went to my two interviews for pharmacy schools, the first thing they would say is, ‘I see you went to Tennessee Tech. We like Tech students,’” Martin said.
Tech student Elizabeth Trainham has also been accepted to the pharmacy program at UTHSC and Whitley Pollard has been accepted to the School of Optometry at the University of Alabama Birmingham. As this semester ends, other Tech students will be headed to professional health programs at South College, University of Kentucky in Pikeville, A.T. Still University of Health Sciences, East Tennessee State University, the University of Cincinnati, Meharry University and the University of California Davis.
While the classes were tough and the interview process for their next steps was intimidating, the students agree that the faculty and staff at Tech did right by them.
“They start you out running and if you never stop running, you don’t know that you could’ve ever walked,” Martin said.
Zachary Martin, left, and Lana Ngo, right, are among the growing number of students from Tennessee Tech being accepted to professional health school programs. Both Martin and Ngo are spring 2017 graduates of Tech headed to pharmacy school.
Lana Ngo, concentrated on pre-professional scieneces during her time Tennessee Tech and has been accepted to the pharmacy program at the University of Florida. Zachary Martin has also been accepted to the pharmacy program at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis following his work at Tech.