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National stage

(December 2, 1999, Gazette)

By Sharon Gray

Pharmacy student Roland Halil has his work cut out for him in the millennium year as he takes on the position of the first president of the Canadian Association of Pharmacy Students and Interns to come from Memorial.

As a graduate from the University of Ottawa, Mr. Halil heard about the MUN School of Pharmacy from two of his former classmates that had already come to Memorial to study pharmacy. Facing massive tuition hikes for pharmacy in Toronto, burgeoning class sizes, and the opportunity to study in a geographic area he had never visited, he felt that MUN offered a great opportunity.

Entering student politics seemed a great way to give something back to the School of Pharmacy and help solidify Memorial’s reputation. But becoming president of the national student body was not foremost on his mind. It took some urging from fellow students, and a lot of talk about what a great organization CAPSI is, to pursuade him to take on the position of junior representative for Memorial. Halfway through his first year at Memorial he attended his first CAPSI conference and by coincidence there was a by-election for president-elect. The next thing he knew, Mr. Halil was on his way to heading up the national organization early in the year 2000.

It’s not a decision he regrets.

“At the CAPSI conference at Laval last year I was just blown away by the hard work people put into the issues at hand and how much effort and enthusiasm they had. The pharmacy students are very professional, but still have fun.”

Mr. Halil said CAPSI tackles a lot of different issues but its main aim is advocacy on behalf of pharmacy students.

“We talk with national pharmacy associations about where we want the profession to go.”

It’s an interaction that professional pharmacists welcome.

“One of the things I really like about pharmacy as a profession and joining CAPSI is the amount of involvement our faculty and elders in the profession want from us as students. They are really interested in how we want to practise, where we want the profession to go. And they want to have our enthusiasm and energy infused into all their initiatives.”

Mr. Halil said there are many national competitions open to pharmacy students, including a patient interview competition, a compounding competition that involves laboratory work, and a new scientific poster competition.

So with all the work it takes to get through pharmacy school, not to mention the opportunity to compete in national competitions, why is Mr. Halil willing to put so much energy into heading up the student organization?

“Sometimes it can be a tough struggle, just to keep on top of everything, but it’s well worth it when you see the enthusiasm across the country. There’s a real team atmosphere among pharmacy student working together on common issues.”

As for his own goals once he graduates in 2002, Mr. Halil says that’s pretty open right now.

“There’s a shortage of pharmacists in the country which is good for me as an individual graduate but bad for the country. There’s a number of different paths I can take such as hospital pharmacy, industry work, graduate studies and international work. I think I’ll wait awhile before making up my mind, I’ve certainly got a busy year ahead of me.”

Dr. Chris Loomis, director of the School of Pharmacy, said he is proud of the contribution Mr. Halil has made to Memorial, and notes that more and more students from the mainland have been applying to study pharmacy here.

“As a graduate from another university, I can really appreciate the things that Memorial does right for its students,” said Mr. Halil. “Running a university is not an easy task, but somehow the School of Pharmacy provides an intimate and supportive environment for their students to learn in, and that was what I was looking for.