Shamsul Arif has known for a long time that he wanted to work in health care. After moving to America from Bangladesh at the age of 18, he began working as a pharmacy technician at Walgreens in Manchester, Conn. He loved the direct patient interaction and was drawn to the opportunity to become an advocate for good health. With the encouragement of his pharmacy manager, he applied to pre-pharmacy when he enrolled at UConn and subsequently joined the School of Pharmacy.
During his time at UConn, Arif became closely involved in a number of different service projects. As a member of UConn’s Urban Service Track program, he was able to give back to the community and also gain experiences that would prepare him for a future in health care. Participants in this competitive program include students from the Schools of Pharmacy, Nursing, Medicine, and Dental Medicine. Over the course of three years, he was responsible for organizing and participating in events to benefit the underprivileged, such as Connecticut Mission of Mercy, the Hartford Community Garden Initiative, and Spring Forward – Don’t Fall Back – Fall Prevention Project.
Arif was selected for Paul Ambrose Scholars Program in 2011 by the Association for Prevention Teaching and Research and the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, a competitive program that requires its members to attend a four-day symposium on health care leadership skills. As part of the program, he was also awarded a $200 micro-grant to develop and implement a faculty-mentored health education project of his choice. Arif developed and implemented an asthma education program, “From Wheeze to Breeze,” to boost the knowledge of asthma patients in Hartford on how to actively partner with health care providers; how to use medications; how to monitor themselves; and how to avoid certain asthma triggers.
Among those Arif met at the symposium were the U.S. Surgeon-General, Dr. Regina Benjamin, and a senior advisor for the FDA. “It was a prestigious opportunity,” Arif affirms. “I’m just thankful for it.”
In addition to these accomplishments, Arif was the student representative at UConn School of Pharmacy’s Professionalism Committee from 2008 to 2012. He has also recently been selected for the 2012 American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) Walmart Scholars Program. Through this scholarship, he will attend the 2012 AACP Annual Meeting and Teachers Seminar in Kissimmee, Fla. in July.
Immediately after graduation, Arif plans to work in community or ambulatory care pharmacy. “Anything that involves direct patient contact,” he says. “I really enjoy interacting with people and helping patients.”
He hopes to stay in touch with his mentors, Devra Dang from the Department of Pharmacy Practice, a core faculty member of the Urban Service Track program, and the dean and associate dean whose encouragement and support, he believes, have been influential in his accomplishments at UConn.
“Shamsul Arif has been everything we could hope for in a future UConn pharmacist,” says Bob McCarthy, dean of the School of Pharmacy. “He is intelligent, warm, engaging, and cares deeply about the welfare of others, especially individuals from underserved communities. We expect our students to be leaders in the profession; he has more than met this expectation. We are extremely proud of him!”