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Tom Achey

Fourth-year pharmacy student
Harrison School of Pharmacy

Tom Achey, a native of Helena, Ala., has called Auburn home for nearly eight years. He earned his bachelor's degree in biomedical sciences in 2010 and is now a fourth-year pharmacy student in the Harrison School of Pharmacy, currently completing clinical rotations in Birmingham. When Achey was appointed the 2013-14 chair of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists' Pharmacy Student Forum Executive Committee, he became the first student from Auburn, as well as the state of Alabama, to hold the position, the highest a collegiate member can obtain in the 40,000-member strong national organization. As chair, Achey said he hopes to advocate for the role of students within the advancement of pharmacy practice and enhance leadership development throughout schools and colleges of pharmacy. His focus on developing the next generation of pharmacy leaders is grounded in his numerous experiences as a student leader. While at Auburn, Achey participated in Camp War Eagle, Student Government Association, Theta Chi, various honor societies and Habitat for Humanity. In addition, he was elected president of five separate student organizations. In his free time, Achey cooks, travels and spends time with his friends and fraternity brothers. After pharmacy school, he said he intends to pursue a post-graduate residency at an academic medical center with a focus on solid organ transplantation.

1. You have a rich family tradition of Auburn graduates in your family. Have you always wanted to attend the university?

I am a product of the proverbial 'house divided.' My father hails from the University of Georgia. My mother's side of the family carries strong roots at Auburn. So, in my case, it seems mother knows best! My grandmother, aunts and uncles attended Auburn; my grandfather graduated from veterinary school at Alabama Polytechnic Institute after serving in World War II. I carry on the legacy today as the first and only child from my generation to attend Auburn. My desire to attend Auburn grew strong toward the end of high school. I remember sitting in junior English looking over at my friend and future college roommate, Tyler, and saying 'Hey! I'm going to Auburn!' I have not regretted that decision once in the past 10 years.

2. How did your experiences at Auburn prepare you for your current role as chair of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists' Pharmacy Student Forum Executive Committee?

I have garnered a number of skills during my time at Auburn. Leadership is a quality I have honed over the course of my life. It's a constant evolution for me and I've learned new ways each day to become a better leader. In my undergraduate experiences, independence allowed me to continue to develop those inherent skills. As a pharmacy student, this trajectory flourished with wonderful support from my university and faculty mentors. My greatest preparation via Auburn is definitely my aggregate reliance on strong, positive mentors, especially pharmacy faculty members Lea Eiland and Kristi Kelley. Their innumerable guidance has facilitated my successes and development. They have challenged me to seek my highest performance while pursuing excellence.

3. What advice do you have for other students who are interested in getting involved on campus?

In homage to 'All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,' my advice includes: You cannot get started without taking that first step. Reflect on your strengths and determine your niche. Foster relationships with mentors – faculty and upperclassmen alike. Seek involvement. Rejection is not fun; albeit, its long-term effects are exponentially positive. Be goal-oriented. Integrity sure does go a long way. Be passionate – about anything. Strive to solve problems; don't find fault, find a remedy. Engage others. Acquire and maintain truth, temperance and tolerance. Maintain a strong support system. Have fun! Your only competition should be yourself – how are you growing? Leadership is defined by results not attributes. Leaders are not only thinkers, they are also doers. Finally, always be future-seeking; what comes next?

4. Looking back, what's been your favorite Auburn memory?

Such a difficult question. Over the course of eight years, there have been countless War Eagle moments. One in particular that comes to mind certainly revolves around one of our greatest past times – football. My absolute favorite memory in that regard would be the 2007 Iron Bowl. One year out since our 'Fear the Thumb' victory in Tuscaloosa, the highly rivaled match up returned to Jordan-Hare Stadium during my sophomore year. Oh, it was miserably cold that year! My friend Krista and I were deeply wrapped under fleece blankets cheering on the Tigers from Section 24. Despite the cold, it was an electric atmosphere and utterly breathtaking at times. I have never been more proud to call Auburn home. The players diving into the student section, Quentin Groves atop the bandstand, Brandon Cox proudly waving the "6." It was a great day to be a Tiger.

5. What drew you into the profession of pharmacy and what are your plans after graduation?

Growing up, I had these grandiose dreams of being an actor, a lawyer and even Elvis! Then one day, I decided I wanted to pursue a career in health care. Again, my family maintains a rich tradition in health care as nurses, veterinarians and physicians. It seemed destined to be. Upon my matriculation into Auburn, I knew I wanted to work in a heavily science-oriented setting; I simply did not know which one. I sought guidance from mentors and eventually decided on pharmacy. Ask my friends; they'll tell you I am a textbook extrovert. I knew I wanted to be in a career surrounded by people and pharmacy provides that. It's not simply cordial interactions with patients but it's the stories they bring with them. After graduation, I hope to begin a career within health-system pharmacy with the intent to pursue a post-graduate residency. I am interested in specializing in solid organ transplantation because it offers an opportunity to maximize clinical knowledge (to satisfy my educational capacity) and ensures patient contact (to fulfill the humanistic influences). Overall, it ties together two prevalent components of pharmacy practice in an intricate and unique patient population.

Dec. 9, 2013