Human nutrition classes lead to pharmacy school for ACES graduate
November 2, 2021

My name is Lauren Moy and I am a first-year pharmacy student at University of Illinois Chicago College of Pharmacy. I am from the city of Chicago, so going to this school meant I was able to come home. I graduated from the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in May 2021.

Growing up, I always wanted to be part of the healthcare/professional field and always believed achieving a medical degree was the only way to get there, but I learned while pursuing my undergraduate degree that it was not always the case. My career goal right now is to enter into industry pharmaceuticals with hopes of pursuing research and development. This may change though as I gain more experience in practice rotations!

I chose to study in FSHN’s human nutrition concentration when I realized I could apply what I learned to my everyday life. I remember going grocery shopping with my mother, and she said we couldn't purchase leafy greens, which are high in vitamin K, because my father had started his therapy on Warfarin, which is a blood thinner. I was very confused at first, but then quickly applied what I had learned in FSHN 120; that vitamin K aids in blood coagulation, which is counteractive to the effects of a blood thinner.

To see the connection between diet and medication drugs, especially now that I have started counseling patients, has shown me how there are so many ways to help patients in caring for their well-being.

I would describe the nutrition program at Illinois as distinguished, dedicated, and dynamic. What makes this program so special is not just the versatile curriculum, but the holistic approach in ensuring all students are prepared in whatever field they want to pursue–whether that is medicine, public health, teaching, and more.

With the many opportunities offered within this program, students will discover their own passion and direction, along with the encouragement and support from the wonderful faculty that are dedicated to making a difference in the health field. For example, I was able to participate in the Undergraduate Research Symposium in the Spring of 2020 as part of Dr. Erdman's lab to present the biochemical research I had conducted all year to help progress future developments in the nutrition field.

As I am in pharmacy school now, I realize how the curriculum offered in FSHN has fully prepared me for the majority of my courses in my first year. Pharmacy is the study of medicinal drugs and how they are prepared and metabolized. Just like it is important to understand how certain medications are used to help monitor thyroid levels and blood pressures, it is also important for patients to understand the importance of a healthy diet and consumption of macro- and micronutrients.

One class, Nutritional Aspects of Diseases (FSHN 420) taught by Dr. Hannah Holscher, goes over many different diseases and respective disease therapies. A lot of the material I had learned from this class showed up in my physiology class and when studying prescription drug cards for counseling. For example, I had learned about diabetes and the different short- and long-acting insulins used in therapy.

Recently, I went over the different insulin vials and pens I learned about last year and was able to identify those same short and long-acting insulin pens while also performing a self-injection to learn how to empathize and further care for patients who do them every day. Another example was learning about relieving symptoms of GERD through food and diet as well as through proton-pump inhibitors. Some of those PPI taught in FSHN 420 allowed an easier recall of those specific medication drugs that I get tested on today.

One of the important lessons pharmacy school has taught me was how important professionalism is when pursuing a career in healthcare. Applying to pharmacy school is not just about having the highest grades in your classes. My involvement in many opportunities offered within the department of FSHN at the University of Illinois along with my rigorous coursework allowed for a solid, holistic application that caught recruiters’ eyes when I applied.

I participated in undergraduate research in the clinical sciences, served as mentor within a large teaching team, as well as acted as a board member for a number of student organizations. These activities provided many opportunities for leadership as well as a good balance of responsibilities and passions throughout my undergraduate career.

Find what you are passionate about! If I had never taken the chance of taking FSHN 120 in my first year of college, I would never have discovered my interests and passions within nutrition alone. There are so many opportunities offered in this field so don't be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone to stand out!