"I enjoy traveling and occasionally during my travels, I will try to engage in discussions with the local pharmacists," Tolu said. "Once I went into a Boots pharmacy in England and I asked the pharmacist questions about how they run their pharmacy. I wanted to educate myself and get an idea of how their practices compare to the U.S. system."
As a native of Nigeria, Tolu has a unique perspective on pharmacy practice in the United States and continually seizes new opportunities to learn more. Since relocating to the Chicago area in 2004, he has worked as a pharmacy technician, as a quality assurance analyst in the Walgreens' corporate office, and recently completed a corporate internship in healthcare innovation and pharmacy technology services.
It was while working as a pharmacy technician that Tolu first learned about the Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) program at Midwestern University. "I worked with graduates of CCP and one of the things that immediately caught my attention was their strong interpersonal skills in dealing with patients. It's one thing to have the knowledge of pharmacy as a practice; but it's another thing to be able to relate to patients and help them make the necessary changes to achieve a better health outcome," Tolu said. "I could see the skill that was imbedded in them and I knew I wanted to be part of something like that."
Tolu has been pleased with his decision to enroll in Midwestern University. He cites the peaceful campus environment and the many spaces designated for student relaxation - the fitness center, music room, and the beautiful campus - as a way the University has created an ideal environment to promote both academic excellence and a balanced life. He also has become involved in a number of professional organizations on campus to further his experience and has volunteered at diabetes and immunization clinics. "Most of the students in the pharmacy program here are involved in some sort of professional organization," he said. "Midwestern has done a great job in putting together a program that really helps students."
An important part of that program is the group of caring pharmacy faculty members who support students throughout their rigorous coursework. "The professors are passionate about student success and that really means a lot. Recently, one of my professors spent a considerable amount of time outside of class talking to me about some concepts that weren't clear. The positive result was that I wound up getting an A on that particular exam. There is a sense of encouragement you feel as a student, when you know that your professors are available and always willing to help," he said. "Going to Midwestern is the best decision I have made in my professional life."
I'm really excited about the endless opportunities that lay ahead."
— Tolu Akinwale, PS-IV
While he is enjoying his studies at Midwestern University, Tolu is also anticipating both future educational opportunities, such as an upcoming hospital rotation, and his career after graduation. "I'm really excited about the endless opportunities that lay ahead. When you get into the program, you realize that you have so many options and various areas of practice, even including academia," he said. "Just the thought of having so many avenues where you can function in the pharmacy system is something that has me really excited about the future."
Tolu Akinwale is a fourth-year pharmacy student on the Downers Grove Campus of Midwestern University.