Commencement 2017: Pharmacy student found her calling, and her confidence, at URI

Iman Aberra puts her shyness behind her as she embarks on career

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Iman Aberra (photo by Nabiha Khan)

KINGSTON, R.I., April 17, 2017 — When Iman Aberra first visited URI as a high school student from New Jersey, she fell in love with the campus and the welcoming atmosphere at the College of Pharmacy. Those first impressions proved prescient, as Aberra found in URI a community that afforded her ample opportunities to grow academically and personally.

She arrived as a shy freshman determined to overcome her reticence, recalled Aberra, who receives her Doctor of Pharmacy, or Pharm.D, degree in May. “I just signed up for everything and formed so many meaningful relationships,” she said.

One of the first things Aberra did was apply to become a campus tour guide. “It really helped me grow out of my shell and to share my passion for how much I love URI and the College of Pharmacy,” she said.

Aberra also plunged into activities at her College, volunteering as a tutor with Rho Chi, the Academic Pharmacy Honor Society and serving as a class representative and interdisciplinary chair with the College’s chapter of American Society of Consultant Pharmacists (ASCP). She also took part in an outreach program with elderly residents of Brookdale South Bay in South Kingstown, helping organize the annual Senior Prom there with ASCP. And she was a cardio pulmonary resuscitation instructor with Phi Lambda Sigma, the Pharmacy Leadership Society.

“A lot of people are in shock when I tell them I was shy,” said Aberra, who completed her final clinical rotation this spring at Shore Medical Center in Ocean City, N.J.

In addition, Aberra participated in URI’s Honors Program and traveled to Alabama during spring break of her sophomore year to help build a house for a single mother through Habitat for Humanity. She said the Honors program explored social justice issues she had not previously focused on, such as hunger and poverty in America.

“It was really eye opening. Most of the Honors topics addressed social issues, which we are not greatly exposed to in the Pharm.D program,” she said. “In pharmacy, you can almost always work through a drug-related problem and find solutions, but there is not always a direct answer to go to with social justice issues. It challenged me to search out possible solutions.”

Of her diverse activities at URI, Aberra said she most values her URI 101 class with Dr. Erica Estus, associate clinical professor of pharmacy practice, and then-student mentor Kristy Macri, class of 2016. “We were able to have that early connection even before we entered the professional years. Forming those relationships early on was really helpful to me,” she said.

After graduation, the Hainesport, N.J., native heads to Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Program for a one-year residency in general pharmacy practice in acute care.

Before she leaves Kingston, however, Aberra has advice for incoming students. “Definitely get involved,” she said. “The opportunities at URI are really endless. And always be positive.”