Giving back inspires student pharmacist

November 4, 2013
Zaira Padilla, first-year professional student pharmacist

Zaira Padilla, first-year professional student pharmacist

For many people, there is a defining moment at some point that pushes them down a certain path in life. Whether this is major or minor, it still changes things. For Zaira Padilla, a first-year profession student pharmacist at the Texas A&M University Health Science Center College of Pharmacy, this moment came when her cousin was diagnosed with lupus.

Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that occurs when your body’s immune system attacks your own tissues and organs. Inflammation caused by lupus can affect many different body systems—joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart and lungs. Lupus can be difficult to diagnose because its signs and symptoms often mimic those of other ailments.

It is estimated that approximately 1,500,000 Americans and more than five million individuals worldwide have a form of lupus, often manifesting in women between the ages of 15-45. Ninety-percent of the people with lupus are women. Eight of ten new cases of lupus develop among women of childbearing age; however, women of all ages as well as men and children develop the disease.

A major deciding factor when choosing to go into pharmacy was my cousin,” Padilla, a native of Brownsville, said. “She was only 15 when it happened. It was hard for us to ssee her go from a normal teenager to being in and out of hospital all of the time. Everyone was just thrown off; my family really did not understand what it was.”

Through treatments for the condition and taking the proper medication, Padilla’s cousin was able to go back to a normal lifestyle. Padilla, however, took the condition of her cousin as inspiration. “I want to be able to give back to others the way that she was helped. Being able to assist anyone with this condition—or any condition, really—is what I truly want to be able to do.”

Giving back to others is not the only plan for Padilla; she wants to be able to give back to the Brownsville area. She knows the area and that it has an underserved population. Being raised in South Texas, Padilla knew that there were not numerous pharmacy schools to apply to or opportunities in the area. She thought she would have to go further north to get those opportunities.

Having the knowledge that she does now, Padilla would love to move to Brownsville, where she used to work in retail pharmacy. Although owning her own pharmacy is not in her plans for now, she keeps her eyes open for any other opportunities that may arise, including potential careers in the hospital environment.

“No matter what exact path I choose, I am thankful to the Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy,” Padilla said. “The staff is setting all of the students up to be successful pharmacists that can care for the public. All of the material that is covered shows all of us what to do, how to connect with future patients and how to give back to community. Every class provides the crucial information that is necessary to be a pharmacist.”

— Cheri Shipman