My name is Nicole Kotnik and I am currently in my third professional year of pharmacy school at St. John’s University. I joined the Alpha Pi Chapter during the Spring of my first pre-professional year (Spring 2014). I currently serve as the Vice President for my chapter for the 2017 – 2018 academic year. I previously served as the Professional Affairs Chair for the Spring 2017 semester. I currently work as a pharmacy intern at CVS in Maspeth, NY. Prior to working at CVS, I worked at a small independent chain called A.J.’s Village Chemist in Middle Village, NY. Upon joining the Alpha Pi Chapter, I have been incredibly involved. I have attended the overall majority of our planned events. Last year, along with our current President Tina Thomas, I started a committee to revise the Alpha Pi Bylaws to more closely resemble what my chapter desired and to support how we are currently operating. I have been a part of the fundraising committee and have supported efforts to raise money for our philanthropy Project HOPE, as well as the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. In addition to LKS, I am involved in Phi Lambda Sigma, St. John’s University Changing the Faces of Pharmacy Program, and the Student Pharmacists Society of the State of New York (SPSSNY). Phi Lambda Sigma is a honor society that recognizes student leaders. The St. John’s University Changing the Faces of Pharmacy Program is a mentoring program where pharmacy students in their professional years mentor local high school students. These high school students are from ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds that do not typically pursue the profession of pharmacy. My role as a mentor is to help them develop resumes, apply to colleges, and share my experience in pharmacy school. SPSSNY is the student organization of the Pharmacist Society of the State of New York. This organization is composed mainly of community pharmacists, who want to have a more active role in their practice. I was part of the St. John’s University chapter since its founding in January 2017. Through joining, I have gained a larger understanding of what issues currently face pharmacists in New York State as well as our role as legislators. I currently serve as Events Coordinator and have attended the past two Mid-Winter Conferences in Albany. I plan on attending Pharmacy Lobby Day this upcoming April. When I am not busy with school, work, LKS or any other extracurricular activities, I can be found at the gym or the pool. This new “hobby” of mine is my 2018 New Year’s Resolution. I am hoping to get into better shape and no longer be exhausted walking up two flights of stairs.
Why did you join LKS?
I became interested in Lambda Kappa Sigma in the spring of my first professional year. I first heard about LKS from my cousin who said her friend was part of this pharmacy fraternity and that I should check it out. A new friend of mine also told me that I should come to learn more about this organization. I ended up joining LKS for several reasons. Being a commuter, it was hard to find a group of friends on campus. I did not make many friends in the pharmacy program during my first semester of pharmacy school. I went to a small all-girls high school where I had a second family and I missed that when starting St. John’s. I saw how close the sisters were and I wanted to be part of that. Also, I liked that how Lambda Kappa Sigma’s mission was “to provide lifelong opportunities for women in pharmacy for professional excellence and personal growth.” I liked that this organization would not only be a new family for me, but also help me grow as a professional. I loved how LKS turned into a support system for me. Without having a group of girls who understand the troubles and turmoil of pharmacy school, I would have never survived the past five years.
What is your favorite LKS memory?
I have more than one most memorable moment. The first one was at a random chapter meeting. We were told to reflect on what we have accomplished as a chapter and to think about how you have grown as a person. It was in that moment that I had found a deeper passion for LKS. When I joined, I was very quiet and uncertain about myself. I did not want to hurt anyone’s feelings, so I kept my own opinions to myself. Through the past four years in LKS, I have grown immensely. My friends tell me that I am the “Nicole 2.0” now. I have gained a new level of self-confidence. I am more vocal about my opinions and am able to express my concerns for an event or the organization as a whole. If you would have told me that I would become the Vice President of my chapter four years ago, I would have probably laughed in your face. This recognition of my growth as a professional was a pivotal moment for me. My second most memorable LKS experience was attending convention for the first time this past August in Atlanta. It was inspiring to be around a group of women who were also passionate about LKS. I was in awe with how many sisters were still so involved beyond graduation. Those three days had helped me reignite the spark I had for LKS since joining in my first year.
Upon graduation, I plan to become a community pharmacist. Community practice has always been an aspiration of mine. This certainty was strengthened by the Simulation Laboratory Session during my P2 and P3 years. The importance of counseling and the impact that it can make on a person’s health has driven me to pursue a position in the community setting. Upon graduation, I hope to work for CVS and possibly own an independent pharmacy in the future.