How I Studied Pharmacy Twice By Lauretta Oyemwenosa Obakpolo


Ever since my induction I have been asking myself, Lauretta was Pharmacy your dream profession? Will you enjoy pharmacy practice? Do you think your current passion for pharmacy will take you through the practice years or you will abandon the practice for something else? Well, all these questions are daily answered as I journey in pharmacy practice.

Pharmacy was what I decided to study after a mental analysis of the profession to pursue as a career. Engineering and law were two professions I also admired so much but were not alternatives to Pharmacy for me. I may still pursue a degree in Law, maybe later in life.

My Father’s Influence

As a little girl (and daddy’s girl), I followed my father to Airen Pharmacy in Benin City for his refills and I met the pharmacist on duty who talked with so much confidence and eloquence. I remember asking my dad what do people like the Pharmacist study in school and he not only gave me a detailed answer, he also encouraged me to be one. My dad will tell us about the need to pursue a professional course as that will grant us meal ticket for life. That was his right word “meal ticket”, but is pharmacy profession my meal ticket today or should I tell daddy the truth? Maybe soon he will know the truth.

My dad’s love for Prof. Dora Akunyili made me know about her early as a child. He would always cut the portion of the newspaper she appeared in for me to read. I read a lot about her (her personal life and fight against fake drugs) and discovered she studied Pharmacy at the University of Nigeria. That alone increased my passion for pharmacy profession and choice of the University of Nigeria. So I can say God used my dad to help me choose Pharmacy and Late Prof. Dora Akunyili increased the zeal to study the choice.

My missionary Journeys in Pharmacy school

My journey in pharmacy school could be likened to a complex biochemical pathway. In fact, I will summarize it as a first and second missionary journey.

1.The first journey was in the faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. It started so beautifully from NSLT to Abuja building and then to Jimbaz as a fresher in the den. This progressed to the days of Prof. Nwodo’s biochemistry class to Pharm. Calc. and the whole pharm this pharm that courses.

Academic balance was achieved in 300 level then and so progressing across levels were easier. This balance and joy of soon to be a pharmacist was truncated in 400level second semester when my admission was questioned and subsequently suspended. It was heartbreaking and mentally draining but then it thought me a lot.

My admission was questioned and my graduation suspended. Does this really matter anymore? No it does not. The most important thing is I left UNN and came to my place, Edo state. I wrote another JAMB and got admitted again into the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Benin and that was where my second ‘missionary’ journey began.

2.University of Benin Pharmacy School was a memorable place. When I started I was still down psychologically but then reality will always be reality. One just had to pick up what was left and move on.

I had two major discouragements starting over again. The first was writing a full semester examination with a wrong Matriculation Number. Thank God for my seat mate now colleague, Pharm. Obaseki Obaman and my God-ordained exam officer-Professor Ighodaro Igbe. They were angelic and instrumental to me not leaving UNIBEN pharmacy out of another frustration. The second was the ASUU June to December 2013 Strike. After then, I enjoyed pharmacy school. I had colleagues that were all unique in various ways and life, as well as pharmacy became fun again

Politics and Involvement

In 300 level, the zeal for politics came and we did it. Yes we ventured into SUG politics-‘we’ because we were a team. Upon picking interest in SUG presidency, so many persons questioned why I should go for the president, why not the Vice. Some suggested even that pharmacy students had no need to join politics, that we should be reading our books. But we did what needed to be done and we came out victorious

Many of us had carryovers (for the first time) because of the SUG politics. We still did the politics till 600 level even when the CGPA were threatened. I remember someone telling me to choose between becoming SUG president and my Pharm.D. I chose both and got both. I paid price to obtain the prize. It was worth paying anyway.

Special thanks to my classmates, they all made sure I did not fail as a union president. Many had to wake me at night to read, some photocopied there notes and revision jotters for me, some read into my ears just to aid comprehension. I am always proud I met them.

Dreams really do come true.

In 2011 when I had issues with the University of Nigeria, I thought how sad my beautiful dream was about to die. I wept without control, day and night. After my last paper in final year UNN pharmacy school, I cried so much as my friends were celebrating. The tears gave me strength instead and made me resolve to see my fight to become a Pharmacist to the finish.

On my induction day in UNIBEN (June 2019), as we sat in the auditorium my mind flew back to all what I went through in 2011/ 2012 and all I saw were hot tears flowing freely from my eyes. My mum ran to me and held me so tight and all she could say was ‘at last’. My dad held my provisional license and oath certificate so tight that he refused to release it saying ‘before UNIBEN change their minds, I will already be in my house’. Yes, he went home straight with them and left me to celebrate with my friends.

Indeed, I saw the value of persistence, courage and self-motivation. I challenge all pharmacy students to turn every limitation to a challenge and do all you can to achieve your dreams. Time used in achieving satisfaction is never counted when the satisfaction comes. Every pharmacist today had unique stories in pharmacy school so turn yours to a testimony.

Even as I continue in the practice of pharmacy, I trust I will do my best to contribute my quota to the profession. For now, no plans to practice outside the profession, rather I will work towards having a better professional experience. Pharmacy is still my dream profession today and always, but as the world is evolving I am ready to evolve so as to remain relevant in the profession.

Dr Lauretta Oyemwenosa Obakpolo
B.Pharm, Pharm.D


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