I grew up in a small town in Ghana, where opportunities available and expectations of the younger generations were not high. The expectation of women to become teen mothers was the norm and education for most families seemed impossible because many people could not afford to attend school. I did not want to follow the social norms when I knew I had a choice to guide my path. Fortunately, my parents valued my education and sent me to school where I excelled throughout my academic career. When I had the opportunity to immigrate to the United States, I was ecstatic and knew I had a chance to shape my future. I moved to Brentwood, California and volunteered at different healthcare centers in my neighborhood. I had a personal interest in healthcare and a desire to help my community. From assisting patients to working as a pharmacy technician, my desire had grown into a passion for improving the health of my community. I had explored a variety of healthcare fields but it was at a young age when I saw my mother abuse her medications that I decided to pursue pharmacy.
Growing up in Chorkor, Ghana; our local pharmacy was the only facility available that offered healthcare treatment. Poverty along with limited health education were major factors that greatly contributed to the poor health and sometimes preventable deaths throughout my community. Although it provided the essential medical needs, the facility lacked both the availability of healthcare providers and resources to guide the surrounding communities. Drug abuse was often a common outcome that resulted from the lack of healthcare leadership in the community. While having confronted my own experiences at home, it encouraged me to pursue a career in pharmacy. Reflecting on the frightening experiences made me realize that there were other communities in my country that face similar challenges. I began to see pharmacy as an opportunity that will not only address the unmet needs but will also offer a preventative approach to provide the appropriate care that will improve healthcare in my community.
(Re)Turn offers an amazing opportunity for me to reconnect with my heritage and roots.
The ability to bring back what I have learned in the United States will help guide potential opportunities for improving the health of my community. My dream is to one day develop health programs that will educate and assist with underserved community members. The knowledge and skills I bring back will contribute to their overall health and provide accessible health resources. Partnering with (Re)Turn, I can continue to follow my passion while learning more about my culture. As I continue down my path, I hope to become a role model for others and inspire those seeking opportunities to give back to their communities.
- Mary Tawiah