Name: Whittney Davis
Hometown: Fort Worth, TX
Current City: Dallas, Texas
Undergraduate University & Major: Texas Tech University/Biology
Graduate School Attending: Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
Take me back a decade, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was 15, I wanted to be a pharmacist!
Tell me about your college application process. How did you decide on a school and major?
The application process was very scary to me, because it was new. My parents did not attend college, and I had no siblings to guide me down the right path. I also knew that I couldn’t afford college, I had no clue what to do in order to remedy that simple fact, but I was determined to find out. My uncle went to Texas A&M, so my mother wanted me to attend school there; my father was a longhorn fan, so naturally he wanted me to attend UT. I had a small scholarship opportunity to play volleyball at a college up north, but was I willing to move half-way across the country at 18? The answer was no. I browsed online for Texas colleges and compiled a list. Online, it said that you should try and visit as many colleges as possible, so that is what I aimed to do. The first on my list was Texas Tech University. I visited the campus in Lubbock, Texas and instantly my fate was sealed. I fell in love with the atmosphere, the friendliness of its citizens and proximity yet longevity of the distance between Lubbock and home. It was during this visit that I decided I did not need to visit any other campus’. I applied as soon as I returned home. I don’t remember my SAT scores, I believe I had been accepted prior to even taking my SAT’s. Over my senior year I began working on the many different scholarships that were offered through my high school as well as Texas Tech. I was able to fund my entire 4 years of undergraduate studies through scholarships, this was one of my most prized accomplishments. With my focus set on becoming a pharmacist, I figured that I could go one of two routes, biology or chemistry. I have always loved biology and how the body works, and despite hearing the rumors of how difficult this major would be, I decided to give it a try. This major pushed me further than I thought possible, it was a difficult as I had heard, yet, it was very rewarding; I would make the same choice all over again given the opportunity.
What was the hardest part of your undergraduate studies? How did you get through it?
The hardest part of my undergraduate studies was my very first biology class. It was taught by Dr. Dini, notorious for difficult exams and material. The first day we stepped into class, a sort of fear developed. He let us know that if we were in a sorority, fraternity, a person who volunteered often, enjoyed a social life or planned to go home early for Thanksgiving should just drop his class right then and there. He emphasized that this class would be difficult and had been nicknamed the “weed out” class. I took the first exam, I failed. This was the first time I had ever failed at anything in my entire life. I took the second exam, again, I failed. I was not sure what was going on, I studied my heart out, what else could I do? I was too embarrassed to ask a colleague for help, and I was too afraid to ask the professor. I dropped the course and contemplated if I would really ever end up as a pharmacist. The next year, I decided that this class was the only way I could get the ball rolling on my dreams. I learned new ways to study, I stopped memorizing and started learning, I asked questions, I earned a B in the class. I told myself that I could never be satisfied in life letting someone or something limit me. I’m glad I had that pep talk with myself, because this would not be the last time that failure found me.
What did you do between undergrad and graduate school?
Between undergrad and graduate school, I worked as a pharmacy technician. I shadowed in a pharmacy, studied for the technician exam, passed the exam and was offered a job at an independent pharmacy. Unfortunately, I had not gotten into pharmacy school on my first attempt. I was told that my application was not competitive enough, and that my PCAT scores did not meet entrance requirements. The next year I spent strengthening my application so that I could reapply. During that time, I retook my PCAT exam as well. I decided to apply early decision to Texas Tech because I knew that this was where I wanted to continue my education and I knew that early decision was my best chance to show the admissions board how serious I was about pharmacy school. I was accepted a few weeks following my interview process!
How and when did you decide on Pharmacy school?
I decided at the age of 7 that I wanted to be a pharmacist. Up until that point, I had wanted to be a “trash can man.” I gave up on the latter desire when I accompanied my mom to the pharmacy for the first time. The white coats are what first caught my attention. I wondered if they were scientists, or something of the sort. I was immediately intrigued and declared to my mother that I would be a–what was it called– “pharmacist, my mother told me,” “right, pharmacist!” After that, I never wavered from this decision, and each day that I went to school from that day forward was a step toward that white coat.
What did you do to be a good Pharmacy school applicant?
I took my PCAT twice, I looked for shadowing opportunities within the pharmacy, I became a certified pharmacy technician, I retook classes that had given me trouble during undergrad, and I spoke with other pharmacists for advice.
What advice would you give to a freshman pre-pharmacy student?
Your grades are important, but they are not everything. It is also important to be well rounded and involved outside of school as well. It is important to show interest in the profession by attempting to get as much experience pertaining to the field as possible. Try, try, and try again. Failing to get into a school on your first attempt is not the worst thing that can happen! If you know that you would like to attend a certain school, visit it, apply for early decision. Be proactive in everything that you do, not reactive; be seen and be heard! Most importantly, be yourself, and stay optimistic. It really is a process, you have to learn to appreciate every step along the way.
How have you managed to balance school/ relationships/self care since starting school?
So far it has been quite the task balancing all of these aspects, especially being hours away from family, friends and significant other. It was very difficult, but I just took everything one day at a time. I leaned on family and friends when I needed to, I visited when I could, and most importantly, I realized that what I was going through, I was going through it for them! Self care was probably the most difficult to manage. Eating, exercising, sleeping, studying, laundry etc, it was very easy to put those aside in favor of studying. This of course isn’t the best course of action, but it takes a bit of time to get the perfect balance; it was mostly trial and error, and coffee…lots of coffee.
Are you interested in any specific specialty?
As we have not had rotations just yet, I am not quite sure what specialty I am interested in, though I hope to figure that out very soon. If I had to guess, I might say critical care.
What does your ideal career look like?
My ideal career is one where I am constantly involved with something new. I don’t find a high satisfaction in jobs that become monotonous, so my ideal career involves variety! I hope that my career will also be challenging and force me to continue to grow.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years, I see myself working my ideal career, beginning a family and traveling the world. I see myself possibly beginning a business of my own.
What sacrifices have you made for your career?
I have sacrificed missing a lot of family events, being present in the early years of my God children’s lives, as well as my own sanity and health at times. I feel for a moment I gave up my happiness as well, as the stress of school can sometimes lead you to feel unhappy.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
The road to your careers will never be an easy one. At times you will want to quit, you will wonder if you are good enough, you will wonder if you made the right choices. The most important thing you can do is to remember that if it were easy, everyone would do it, times will not always be difficult, you are ALWAYS good enough, and following God will lead you to make the best choices possible! Enjoy your journey, and appreciate all of your efforts, successes and failures because they are all equally important! Network, network, network!