UT College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences News

BSPS Valedictorian Melissa Yamsek’s Remarks

Melissa Yamsek, BSPS valedictorian, delivers her remarks

Over the past few years at the University of Toledo, we have each accomplished a lot. We’ve overcome great academic challenges, whether that includes spending hours at either Mulford or Carlson Libraries to do well on an exam, memorizing countless individual drugs and their mechanism of action, or fervently searching the recent literature for incorporation into a research project. But most importantly, we’ve each gathered lifelong friendships and experiences that will carry us into our futures.

Throughout my time here, I have gained valuable experiences that have helped to guide myself into a future career. When I first started at the University of Toledo, I had one clear-cut goal: go in, get my Pharm.D., and become a pharmacist. Not much more than a month into my college career, my organic chemistry lab TA advocated that I join a research lab. To be honest with you, at the time I was completely unacquainted with the notion that undergraduate research was even a thing, and I experienced considerable hesitation to take his advice. I began talking with some of the upperclassmen that I had befriended, who were a bit more familiar with the idea, and each of them presented encouragement and invigoration, in support of the opportunity. Taking my individual skill sets and interests into consideration, I decided that I would be well-suited as a researcher and that it would be a dignified opportunity, so I began talking with professors and became involved in research that next semester. From that moment on, my life had changed. I began spending extensive portions of my spare time in the lab, starting with simply afternoons and then growing to working entire days and even weekends. I’ve had several people come up and ask if I was a graduate student, or even if I actually lived in the lab. I became addicted to producing results and quickly began to realize that research was my true calling and that I need to be stimulated more at the research and discovery level, so I switched my career goals to include the earning of a Ph.D. in biochemistry.

Now I am sitting here at the end of my undergraduate career at the University of Toledo, and I’m about to migrate onto a new journey at The University of Chicago. While I am excited to be encapsulated in a highly academic environment, I’m not afraid to admit that I am also slightly apprehensive; however, I keep on reflecting back to how I felt my freshman year here at UT and what it has taught me about new explorations. Many of us encounter some sort of suspense or presentiments about starting new chapters within our lives, but we need to remember that change is what induces excitement within our lives, and what drives us to improve ourselves and ultimately, excel. It was the result of a great change in my life that allowed me to discover my inner devotion and eagerness towards biochemical research.

My time here at the University of Toledo has granted me invaluable experiences that have motivated me to continue my path to a future career as an independent researcher. My professors, fellow classmates, lab members, and family have served as vital sources of inspiration as I strived for my own self-discovery. Overall, my advice to all of you is to keep on pushing yourselves. Each and every one of you has attained great accomplishments during your time here at The University of Toledo, and while that’s worth undivided praise and celebration, don’t let that stop you from obtaining further aspirations or achievements. I am confident that each of you will make great strides to be greater than you were the previous day, and succeed within your future furthered education or careers. With that, I’d like to wish each of you the best as you venture on to a new point in your lives and express an immense gratitude to all of you who have been by my side this entire time.

is the Scientific Editor and College Communicator for The University of Toledo College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. She is a triple alumna of The University of Toledo with master's degrees in English and Education and a graduate certificate in Patient Advocacy.
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