Ask A Student Diplomat: Balancing Pharmacy School With Honors College

Question: Is it difficult to balance the commitments of both the pharmacy program and Honors College at Duquesne University?

Kathryn Kerr: Taking on a challenging major such as pharmacy is intimidating enough, and tacking on additional work involved with the Honors College may seem to be putting too much on an already-filled plate. However, as a student in both programs, I can wholeheartedly assure you that enrolling in both is not only manageable, but valuable.

During the pre-professional phase of pharmacy school (the first and second of six years), you will take many introductory science courses, including general chemistry, organic chemistry, biology and physics. Additionally, you will take core courses required by the university. However, if you are an Honors College student, these general core courses will be replaced by honors courses.

While these courses do require more work, such as being more writing-intensive than regular core classes, the faculty teaching them is always willing to help if needed. Although the courses may require more effort, they are also extremely rewarding. Fantastic professors who are distinguished experts in their fields will teach you, and you can count on the subject material to be fascinating.

For example, to fulfill my "Faith & Reason" credit, I took a course focused on the philosophical and theological influences and implications in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. Dr. Kathleen Roberts, who designed and taught the course, and is also the director of the Honors College, not only made the topic of "Faith & Reason" more interesting by relating it to my favorite book series, but also helped enhance my critical thinking abilities (a skill necessary for pharmacists) and strengthen my writing. It was one of my favorite classes I've taken so far at Duquesne. There are countless other interesting and specialized courses in different areas of the liberal arts that are only available through the Honors College.

Another benefit of enrolling in the Honors College is its unique fellowship program. As an Honors College student, you will have the opportunity to complete and Honors Fellowship project. The project can relate to anything, be it something pertaining to science, such as lab or administrative research, or even something relating to a liberal arts specialty, such as writing. There are also endowed fellowships available, which can help fund your project. If your project entails studying abroad, the endowed fellowship can also help to fund that. The opportunities for these projects are limitless, and Dr. Roberts is always extremely excited to help with whatever you may need. Additional benefits of being in the Honors College include being able to register for classes earlier than the rest of the university as well as access to unique scholarship opportunities.

Being a part of the Honors College is extremely beneficial, not only in the countless opportunities available, but also in helping you grow as a person. Through the courses, you will not only learn how to study and write effectively, but also gain a deeper understanding of the world, helping you to become more well-rounded and compassionate.

As a pharmacist, you will one day be interacting with patients and working towards optimizing their health outcomes. You will need to act in the best interest of the patient and solve problems. You will be able to apply the principles of what you learn in the Honors College to such situations. While you may forget the exact information you learn in your global diversity and philosophy courses, you will most definitely remember the lessons learned from them. This is what the Honors College is ultimately about: guiding you to become a competent professional while educating you on important societal issues.

While it entails a bit more work, I can guarantee that because of the people you meet, courses you take, skills you develop, and lessons you learn, you will not regret choosing to accept your invitation to the Honors College.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and horizon-expanding education. A campus of nearly 8,500 graduate and undergraduate students, Duquesne prepares students by having them work alongside faculty to discover and reach their goals. The University’s academic programs, community service, and commitment to equity and opportunity in the Pittsburgh region have earned national acclaim.

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