Ten years ago, Sammy Ihunwaeze was a student at the College of Health Sciences, Obafemi Awolowo University, in his native Nigeria when his name came up in the lottery for a U.S. visa. He uprooted his life and moved to Colorado, where he has extended family. After establishing residency, Sammy enrolled in FRCC’s nationally accredited Pharmacy Technician program—with a goal of eventually going to pharmacy school. “I’ve always wanted to work in the field of medicine,” says Sammy, the oldest son in his family and the only one of his siblings in the United States.
Completing Prerequisites at FRCC
Sammy completed his prerequisites for pharmacy school at FRCC—while working full time at Pharmerica, a pharmacy that provides medications for patients in long-term-care facilities. Sammy first started with Pharmerica during his Pharmacy Technician rotation in 2006.
In 2010, Sammy applied to and was accepted by the University of Wyoming’s highly competitive Doctor of Pharmacy program. Even without a bachelor’s degree, Sammy met all of the science requirements for the program—organic chemistry, human anatomy, physiology, microbiology, statistics, and calculus, to name a few—by taking classes at FRCC. “I was prepared very well academically to succeed in my program at UW,” Sammy says.
Beginning His Career
In May 2014, Sammy graduated from UW with his Pharm.D.—after a long and challenging road. Just before entering pharmacy school, his father passed away and Sammy always kept his words in his head as he worked tirelessly toward his goals. “Before he passed, he asked me to make him a promise to finish my academics and reminded me why I came to the U.S.,” Sammy says.
Sammy’s four years of pharmacy school were filled with 15-hour days of classes, work (at Pharmerica), and in his last year, rotations at nine pharmacy settings. The hard work paid off. One of those rotations back in Denver led to a job.
North Suburban Medical
During a rotation at HealthOne North Suburban Medical Center in Thornton, Sammy got a foot in the door when the hospital had an opening for a per diem (as needed) pharmacist. He started the job after graduating from UW. “I knew in pharmacy school that I wanted to work in a hospital setting, so I was excited when this opportunity came up,” Sammy says.
For now, Sammy also continues to work part-time at Pharmerica. “Pharmerica is like a home to me,” he says, adding that the company has supported him from the moment he did his FRCC rotation there. “I’ve learned so much there and I continue to.”
Strong Ties to FRCC
In pharmacy school, Sammy did his academic rotation at FRCC as an instructor—and he has promised Linda Calvert, former Pharmacy Technician program director and now a dean of instruction, that he will teach Pharmacology at FRCC in the near future.
FRCC holds a special place in Sammy’s heart. “When I think about FRCC, I get a great feeling,” he says. “I am who I am because of my FRCC experience, and I’ll always be grateful for that. I look forward to returning there one day as a teacher. Really, that’s where it all started for me.”