Auburn Pharmacist Spotlight: Paul Paratore

Paul Paratore at the piano

September 6, 2016

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala.Periodically, the Harrison School of Pharmacy will highlight one of its students, faculty members, staff members or alums. This month, we will feature Paul Paratore.

Paul Paratore, a member of the Harrison School of Pharmacy Class of 2018, currently holds the office of Student Council President. A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, Paratore first attended Patrick Henry College where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in journalism in 2009. He then went to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where he earned a bachelor’s degree in biology in 2014, preparing for his move to HSOP. Learn more about Paul in this month’s Auburn Pharmacist Spotlight.

What does it mean to be the HSOP Student Council President? What is involved in the job?
“School Council President entails quite a bit. If you've heard the phrase ‘too many cooks in the kitchen,’ I'm more or less the opposite--a cook in about two dozen kitchens. I chair the executive board, which oversees all student organizations, projects, and committees within school council and manages all the regulations and finances applying to them. I take a role within the school that can be difficult to balance at times; I'm a student leader, but I also work with faculty and administration a considerable amount and there can be tension in that interplay. I have to balance those interests and remind myself that I'm still a student myself and that I have studies to focus on. One thing I really enjoy is being able to collaborate with all the member organizations of school council. I also play a role in P1 orientation throughout the week and delivering the address at the White Coat Ceremony. I consider it a great honor that I get to administer the oath of a pharmacist to my fellow P1, P2, and P3 classmates. I like to take a very hands-on role. When it comes to achieving goals, I can just email people all day or I can roll up my sleeves and get to work, I prefer the latter.”

You took a roundabout route to pharmacy. How does a journalism major end up in pharmacy school?
“Growing up, I was always fascinated with healthcare. My mom and many members of my family were in nursing and I grew up going to the hospital and nursing homes to volunteer. By the time I was a senior in high school, I was debating between majoring in biology, political science, or music. Surprise! I ended up falling in love with English linguistics and radio production. Well, back in 2009 I had to do some serious soul searching after I discovered my radio journalism and English majors were probably not going to get me anywhere. I ended up unemployed after graduation and living in my parents' attic. I did everything from paint houses, to dog-sitting, to dance lessons, to try and start making a living. It was a shock for me since I had always had a steady job since I was 15. In fact, I had four part-time jobs simultaneously while I was in undergrad and I was very lucky to graduate with little student debt. I eventually found a job working third shift at a Planet Fitness, a client found me a job as an office manager at an insulation company, which then turned into a job in accounting at Volvo. At that point, I decided I was going to try and go back to school and ended up with my cell biology degree from UNC Charlotte. I'm not even sure how many different jobs I've worked, but interestingly, the job I had most consistently was working as a barista. And it's actually a really great job, I think.”

You did quite a bit of traveling this summer. Where all did you go and what did you do?
“So, I have this goal to visit all 50 states by the time I turn 30 (#50by30). It's crunch time because I turn 30 in June and I still have 10 to go. But, I've got a plan. It's not very pretty because I'm traveling on a limited budget and it usually involves me sleeping in my car most nights. When I was in Wyoming last summer there were a few days where the only bath I had was a dip in the river. I'm not always the safest traveler. On that same trip I fell down a cliffside while trying to negotiate a climb in the Tetons and I fractured one of my vertebrae. But, it's worth it. I like to see places I go from a very organic place, not in the resorts or tourist traps. I like to just jump in the middle of it. This summer, I mostly explored the Blue Ridge Parkway through western North Carolina. I also got the opportunity to explore the Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana coasts when I had my rotations in Mobile. Last spring break, I did a very foolhardy thing when I jumped into my car and proceeded to drive some 3,000 miles across 13 states. But it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Getting lost in the dark in Kansas with no GPS or cell service is simultaneously terrifying and exciting. Always have an old-school map on you, kids.”

Word is you are not just a science guy, but also talented in the arts. Tell us about your experience in music, dancing, singing, etc. How long have you been doing all that and what do you do?
“Funny story. I've been playing the piano since I could walk and my mom would put me on her lap and teach me little songs. I was always pretty awful at team sports because I had no coordination and was blind as a bat as a kid, so I stuck with music all my life. I became a concert pianist and vocalist and worked as a church organist in undergrad for several years. I've always loved the music of J.S. Bach. He essentially summed up everything that had happened in western music up to that time and foreshadowed everything that was to happen afterward. It shouldn't be a surprise that I have focused heavily on music from that era. I eventually took up dancing, too, in late middle school/early high school, which is super late by dance standards. I really enjoyed tap and jazz more than anything else and eventually transitioned into ballroom dancing, which I was active in and taught all through school. I'm really very out of practice as a dancer, but I still try to challenge myself as a pianist. It's very hard to find the time while I'm in pharmacy school. During competition season, I used to practice piano upwards of six hours a day in the days leading up to an important audition or competition. I'm hoping to be more involved in the musical community again when I'm done with school.”

What drew you to pharmacy? What are you hoping to do once you complete your time here?
“I discovered while doing my biology degree that I really loved chemistry. I knew that I was going to try for something in healthcare if I didn't go to the Ph.D. route, so I surmised that pharmacy would be the best option. I didn't have the clearest idea coming into pharmacy what I would do or even what I could expect, but I don't regret my decision at all. I don't regret any of my decisions. I've added some chapters to my life that I never would have read otherwise. I've met some amazing people that I would have never known. There isn't enough time in life to look back and regret anything. Look back on what you've said and done and use that to learn how to be a better person to yourself and everyone around you. As far as what I am hoping to do when I'm done at HSOP, my plan right now is to graduate, maybe work, and complete a residency in infectious disease. I would really like to settle down for a while in Colorado. Or at least in the West. I left a piece of my heart there a few years ago. And, also, spend time visiting my family back in Charlotte and New York, especially my nephews. That's the long term plan. My plan right now is to survive P3 year and make it to rotations without any grey hair.”


Piano concert
Paul Paratore plays concert piano
Paul in Colorado
Paul Paratore travels to Colorado

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About the Harrison School of Pharmacy
Auburn University’s Harrison School of Pharmacy is ranked among the top 20 percent of all pharmacy schools in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report. Fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), the School offers doctoral degrees in pharmacy (Pharm.D.) and pharmaceutical sciences (Ph.D.) while also offering a master’s in pharmaceutical sciences. For more information about the School, please call 334.844.8348 or visit http://pharmacy.auburn.edu.

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Last Updated: September 6, 2016