After getting experience at TU, recent graduate Theophilus Boakye is moving on to pharmacy school
When asked why he went to Towson University, Theophilus Boakye ‘19 is honest: He had a lot of high school friends who were going, and he felt he could have a lot of fun here.
But he also knew that TU was the biggest university in the Baltimore area, that its campus was near three different hospitals, and that as a student he’d have a better chance to network.
Ever since he was a little kid, Boakye wanted to be involved in medicine. Coming to TU provided him with plenty of places to volunteer and helped him meet the right people.
“With all of the hospitals surrounding campus, I saw it as a way that I could network with the right people,” Boakye says. “I saw a lot of opportunities in this general area that I could take advantage of when I got here.”
Boakye graduated this past spring with a degree in biology, with a concentration on the functional biology of animals. When he first came to TU, he had thought of becoming a medical doctor.
It was hard not to because his family has a history in medicine. His Jamaican mother is a registered nurse. His father, who was born in Ghana, is an OBGYN in his home country as well as in Sierra Leone. His older sister is studying to become a nurse, while his youngest sister already has dreams of becoming a doctor.
But as he started on his TU journey, Boakye couldn’t help but see all the different and exciting programs that were offered. But, knowing his family’s history, he stayed the course.
“I don't know if it's a stigma but I feel like a lot of African families will always push their kids to be in the medical field,” Boakye laughs. “TU had a lot to offer, and a lot of amazing programs I could do. But I’m happy I stuck with medicine, because it’s one of the most important things you can do: learning about biology, life and the body, and how they work.”
At TU, he immediately volunteered at the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center, where he helped stock patient rooms in the orthopedic wing. He then volunteered at GBMC, where he worked in the pharmacy department processing patient drug returns.
During his summers back home in Western Maryland, he worked as a scribe for an orthopedic surgeon, taking notes for a doctor who saw 40 patients a day.
These experiences led him away from becoming a medical doctor and more toward wanting to work with patients on their medication plans. So Boakye started focusing more on pharmaceuticals.
After working as a pharmacy technician at a CVS pharmacy, Boakye knew he wanted to go to pharmacy school, but he didn’t want to work in retail. He wanted to work more on the clinical side.
“I know retail is supposed to make more money, but I feel like I can listen to people and I can understand what their problems are and really help them formulate a plan,” Boakye says. “Being behind a desk and serving medications is not what I think I’m destined to do. I think I should be with patients and talking with them to find out what they need.”
But while he wanted to go into pharmacy, that didn’t stop him from wanting to learn more about the human body. So along with biology and physiology classes, he took some occupational therapy and kinesiology electives as well.
His favorite class was Neuromuscular Mechanisms of the Upper Body with lecturer Laurie C. Williams-Hogarth. While he loved classes that focused on his major, Williams-Hogarth’s class was the only one that showed him how the body truly works.
That’s because they used a cadaver every week.
“We were able to go into the body and see all the muscles, nerves and the blood vessels,” Boakye says. “That really showed me the full picture of how the body actually works.”
Boakye is hoping what he’s learned at TU and through his volunteer work will help him toward his clinical pharmacy goals. This fall he will begin studying at Loma Linda University in Southern California as part of its pharmacy residency program.
While he hasn’t decided on a focus yet, he’s narrowed it down to either oncology, infectious medicine, emergency medicine, research or surgical medicine.
Along with starting at a new school, it will also be the first time Boakye has experienced Southern California. The longtime Los Angeles Lakers fan already has made plans to visit Long Beach and make a trip to In-and-Out Burger.
But when asked how his mother and father are dealing with watching their son move from Maryland to California, he admits that while they were nervous about the distance, they were excited to see him follow his dreams.
“They were just so happy that I was going,” Boakye says of his parents. “My dad was the happiest. My dad primarily wanted me to become a doctor, but he is so happy that I got into pharmacy school. It reassures me that I’m making the right decision.”