Courting compassion and camaraderie
It’s going to be tough for pharmacy student and award-winning athlete Adrienne Penney (or Mom, as many of her peers and teammates call her) to move to New Brunswick to begin her career.
The emotional investment she has in her time at Memorial – her peers, her professors and her teammates – runs deep.
“I’d do anything for any one of my teammates,” she says, quite simply. “On the court, we all have high expectations of each other to perform to our very best. We put pressure on each other, yet off the court we’re such close friends and our biggest supporters. I’m going to miss them when I move away and it’ll be really hard to adjust, that’s for sure.”
Earlier this year, Ms. Penney received the Erin Bursey Memorial Award and internal scholarship, which goes to a player and student who exhibits outstanding achievements in sport, academics, and community involvement. She also received the CIS Therese Quigley Award - the national equivalent.
Ms. Bursey, the captain of the Memorial University Sea-Hawks women’s volleyball team was tragically struck by a minivan in St. John’s in 2012. The award was established shortly after the tragedy, and celebrates her raw grit, determination, and optimism on the court.
Glenn and Jackie Bursey (Erin’s parents) presented Ms. Penney with the award. She describes them as “two of the most optimistic, amazing, strongest people I know – I consider them and Erin to be role models.”
Accepting the award was a bittersweet experience for Ms. Penney. The two were close teammates and friends.
“I don’t think I’ve ever played with anyone as committed as she was to this game, and it just isn’t the same without her,” she recalls. “I worked hard the last couple of years to get myself back into a starting role, and it’s partly because I remember how hard she worked to get better, because she was physically smaller than other athletes, but a huge force, and that is incredible in and of itself. She definitely had a part to play in my work ethic.”
Despite her love of volleyball and team sport, Ms. Penney advocates life balance.
She’s an active participant in pretty much all School of Pharmacy events, as well as numerous charity fundraising occasions, including the AIDS Walk for Life, the CIBC Run for the Cure, and the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. She also led and coordinated the Home for Dinner program for Ronald McDonald House this past February, and helped raise money for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation at Memorial’s ‘Go Pink’ event in January.
“I like brightening other people’s days – it’s just nice to see people smile. I feel like the better people feel, the kinder they will be toward others and it might make everyday just a little more enjoyable for the rest of us. Kind of like the pay-it-forward theory,” she smiles, adding, “And I think I’d get bored rather quickly if I was just involved in one thing.”
Her compassionate, openhearted outlook on life makes her ideal pharmacist material.
“I chose pharmacy because it’s the most accessible health care professional for members of the public, I wanted to work in healthcare, and I wanted to be an integral part of people’s lives,” she says. “People often go to the same pharmacy for a long time, so I hope that someday I can be a part of my patients’ long term health care and also contribute to the impact that my profession can have.”
One of her long-term goals is to work as a pharmacist with Doctors Without Borders, but for Adrienne Penney life is all about seizing the day.
“I don’t ever want to give up on volleyball, and I can’t wait to gain more life experiences. I want to keep furthering my education and profession. And when I find myself thinking negative thoughts, I do my best to find the silver lining. I realized a couple of years ago that there’s no point in sweating the small stuff, because life still goes on.”