As a self-described problem solver with a desire to learn new things daily, Cassandra Saunders says her love of talking to people and interest in how medications interact with and affect the body led her to pursue a career in pharmacy.
Saunders originally wanted to be a veterinarian, but after failing to gain acceptance into a veterinary medicine program, she began to explore other potential career paths. She analyzed her interests and many potential professions. After her explorations, Saunders landed on pharmacy. With a family and a home already in Minnesota, the University of Minnesota was the perfect place to apply. The U’s College of Pharmacy was the only school she applied to and, after a couple years in the program, she has realized pharmacy school is much more than an acceptable alternative to veterinary school.
At the College of Pharmacy, Saunders is taking full advantage of all the opportunities afforded to her, including attending the International Pharmaceutical Students’ Federation World Congress in Argentina last summer.
“It was so much fun interacting with pharmacy students and pharmacists from all over the world,” Saunders said. “It was a great opportunity to be able to ask questions regarding culture, education and government issues in pharmacy.”
Her typical day at the conference consisted of eight hours of workshops, lectures, lunch and networking. In the evenings, she would either enjoy the dinners provided or go out on her own. Every night, the host school provided a different social activity, including an international night, costume party, dancing and music at local venues. There were also competitions for the students to participate in. Saunders placed third in both the Clinical Skills Team Event and the Team Clinical Skills Jeopardy.
“I wanted to attend the conference so I could grasp a global understanding of how pharmacy is practiced all over the world,” Saunders said. “I think it is important to understand the pharmacist process other countries utilize, current policies, themes for development and share ideas on how to improve medical access and patient health.”
Saunders’ experience in Argentina was so positive that she hopes all students take advantage of similar opportunities.
“If you have the ability to travel while you are a student, take advantage of the time given to you now,” Saunders said. “Once we start our careers, it may be even more difficult to arrange our time and finances in our favor in order to enjoy these experiences.”