A commission to lead


SLI attendees enjoy the Friday night BBQ on the roof of APhA headquarters.

More than 200 student pharmacist leaders attended the 2015 APhA–ASP Summer Leadership Institute (SLI) in Washington, DC, in July. SLI is a weekend for student leaders to learn from 3 days of engaged, impactful programming focused on advocacy, leadership, and chapter operation. SLI2015 couldn’t have been possible without the hard work by APhA staff and the generous support from Amgen, 
Cardinal Health, and Rite Aid.

Rallying co-sponsors

SLI2015 kicked off on Friday when students visited their congressional represenatives and senators on Capitol Hill to garner support for H.R. 592 and S. 314, also known as the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act. Student leaders shared facts about the medically underserved, detailed the importance of the bill, and gave personal testimonies about how the bill could help them meet the needs of their patients. Rep. Buddy Carter (R–GA) also joined for a brief session, inspiring students about the profession of pharmacy and the role he has played to promote the profession in Congress. 

The Hill visits were followed by an afternoon filled with orientations, introductions, and leadership sessions. One specifically was titled “From To-Do to Done,” in which Brent Reed, PharmD, an Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, detailed how to complete daily tasks efficiently without becoming too overloaded. Reed has helped many student leaders with this common problem.

Jessica Comstock, a final-year PharmD candidate at the Purdue University College of Pharmacy and 2015–16 Vice-Chair of APhA–ASP Awards Committee, commented that “Dr. Reed’s presentation was very insightful. I have started to organize my inbox process and am ready to start running more efficiently.”

Understanding leadership

Saturday was focused helping attendees learn about leadership qualities, which will help them lead their chapters. Sheryl Benzon, President of Dream Ventures, Inc., led a day long workshop on how to increase the effectiveness and impact a person has in leadership. “This year was my 15th consecutive year speaking at SLI,” Benzon said. “Each year I am impressed by the caliber of students who attend, and I feel I have the best and brightest individuals across the nation.” 

Benzon, who has worked primarily with corporations, enjoyed the opportunity to speak with students. “It is a privilege to share knowledge, and interact with current and future leaders in pharmacy,” she added. 

Saturday night was a time for bonding among the attendees. APhA–ASP Regional Officers organized a dinner at a local restaurant followed by a night on the town in DC. 

Laying a foundation

Sunday was the last day of SLI, but certainly not the least. The day was filled with operational tips and advice for improving chapter programs. Led by the APhA–ASP National Executive Committee (NEC), it was an opportunity to network with fellow chapter leaders, share innovative ideas for improving chapter programming, and instill a strong foundation for the year, while establishing the vision of living your “why” into chapter leaders to take back to their schools.

The sessions included maximizing membership, professional relationship building, and how to implement all of the valuable information from the weekend into an action plan. The day also included the launch of OTC Literacy, a program focused on educating 5th and 6th grade students and their families about the safe use and storage of OTC medications (see related story, page 3). 

Changing the world

Margaret Mead once said, “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” SLI acts as a commission of sorts. Before the weekend, student leaders arrived with different goals in mind. Perhaps some of them wondered how they were going to lead their chapters. Through the great leadership from the NEC and APhA Student Development Staff, student leaders left SLI with greater focus, determination, and direction. By the last day, students understood that they have a lot of work to do because the world does not change easily. 

Even though it was a small group of leaders, Margaret Mead was right. A small group can make a difference in the world through a thoughtful commitment to promote, serve, and lead their chapters, communities, and profession.


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