LKS spotlights student and alumni members that are making a difference in their chapters, in their communities, and in the field of pharmacy.
Tell us about yourself: (school, chapter, work, hobbies, LKS activities, meetings attended):
My name is Michelle (Albala) McCarthy and I graduated from Long Island University, Arnold and Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy in 1994. I joined the Alpha Eta Chapter of LKS in Spring 1992. Since the school is a commuter school, the chapter was small and limited in resources. Most of our members had after class & weekend commitments such as family, work and daily commuting. This made having meetings and events a bit more challenging, but, somehow, we were able to accomplish such tasks and grow during those years. I was the President of our chapter in my final year there.
The first Convention I attended was in Charlestown, SC. This was where I really experienced what being a lamb was all about. I traveled alone and was not rooming with any sisters from my chapter, so I was set up to room with three ladies from California (2 sisters and their advisor). They welcomed me with open arms.
The convention opened my eyes to what LKS was really all about. Sisters from other chapter spoke about the happenings on their campus and what LKS was doing at their schools. Walks were being done to raise money for charities. Visits to nursing homes to volunteer. Ice cream socials (what really ice cream??) happened all the time to get the sisters to interact with each other. There were even planned events with other fraternities to join forces and raise money and awareness.
I learned so much that year with regard to what LKS does, not just on campus but all around the world,, I was just in awe. I took it all back to Brooklyn and shared it with my Alpha Eta sisters. They say you leave Convention on a high, well I was flying!
After graduation, I was a Regional Supervisor for 1 year. It was great to visit the local chapters and see what was new on their campus. It always put a smile on my face to hear the stories of the lambs interaction with the community around them.
The year I graduated, I attended the Convention in Las Vegas. That was where I got to know Keely Ireland, Although I had “met” her in Charlestown, it wasn’t until Vegas that we really got to know each other. I consider her one of my closest friends to this day. We have roomed together for several Conventions: St Louis, Philadelphia, and NYC to name a few.
Although I started my career in retail, currently I am a hospital staff pharmacist at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, NJ. The last 14 years there have been an experience very different from retail. I have even met several LKS sisters there from different chapters. We really are everywhere.
In my spare time I love to cook, throw parties, drink wine, do yoga, research my family tree, garden, spend time with my two dogs, travel and of course experience life with my husband Charlie.
My most memorable LKS experience:
My most memorable experience would have to be my 1st convention in Charlestown when I had to get up in front of such this huge crowd and give our chapter report. I remember I was so nervous that I don’t think I remembered to breath. I do remember saying that our school was located in beautiful downtown Brooklyn, which at that time was not so beautiful. Members who had recently visited there knew this about the area and started to giggle. It totally broke the tension and I was able to relax and read the rest of my speech without issue.
The advice you would give to others:
Believe in yourself. Change careers if you need to and don’t be afraid. I was a retail Rph and switched to hospital. Believe me when I tell you it was terrifying, there is a world of difference between the two. It was a challenge, but I did it and have no regrets.
Fight the fight. If you support something wholehearted, fight for it. If you are battling a disease, don’t let it win. I was diagnosed with Thyroid cancer in 2003. Although it is considered the most curable cancer, it still is just that…cancer. Find the right doctor, the right hospital, the right treatment for you and get it done!
Surround yourself with only positive people who support and love you. You will encounter the negative ones in everyday life that you can’t avoid, but you don’t need to invite them in. Your support system with be there to celebrate the good times, carry you through the dark and never ask for anything in return.
Find a hobby(ies) that you can escape into. Pharmacy can be exhausting both physically and mentally. Give yourself time away to rejuvenate both your body and soul.
Why are you a lamb for life:
LKS is like that old comfy sweater that feels like home when you put it on. I have met sisters back in 1992 that I still have relationships with to this day. I may not see these lambs for years, but then we pick up where we left off. It is the strong sisterhood that keeps me as a lamb for life. What can I say….I love that old sweater.
If I were not a pharmacist I would be:
I would own a dog rescue on acres of land, have a great veggie garden including a vineyard and still have time to be a party planner on the side. Unrealistic? Probably…but you asked