April 18, 2024
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Doctor of Pharmacy grad brings leadership and team mindset to her time at Binghamton

Oluwateniayo “Teni” Sopitan played D1 volleyball as an undergrad

Oluwateniayo Oluwateniayo
Oluwateniayo "Teni" Sopitan will begin a fellowship with RevHealth following Commencement, working as a marketing fellow in content development. Image Credit: Jonathan Cohen.

Maryland native Oluwateniayo Sopitan, who goes by Teni, has been a leader since the beginning of her studies as a PharmD student at Binghamton. She credits being elected as class president her first year to asking questions. She has remained in that role each year since — because she stood out, she said.

“I was always asking questions in class. I would ask questions because I wanted to understand and that’s what people saw,” Sopitan said. “So it was really just me having the courage to speak up in class. I always asked the questions because I was so confused!”

As an undergraduate, she was a Division I scholarship volleyball player and team captain at North Carolina State University. Her schedule and the distance kept her from visiting the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (SOPPS) before arriving for the start of classes. She came to Binghamton’s Doctor of Pharmacy program by herself and not knowing anyone.

But while at NC State, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in nutrition science with a minor in exercise science, she developed a team philosophy as a member of its Wolfpack — a philosophy that fits right in with the team-oriented interprofessional education at SOPPS. “It’s important to form teams and be team-oriented,” Sopitan said. “You need people.”

The front-line hitter kept up with volleyball at Binghamton, serving as a volunteer coach for the D1 women’s team for two seasons, then playing in a local adult league with some fellow students her third year. Balancing everything took some effort.

“The biggest lesson I learned as a student is that if you don’t create a schedule for yourself, someone will make it for you, and I don’t like that!” she said. “When I got into pharmacy school, outside of going to my classes, I needed to find a schedule that I created, especially my first year coming from being an athlete.

“I liked that structure; I liked that for a certain amount of time I was dedicated to my teammates, so that’s why I was so involved my first year with the volleyball team because I knew that from 5-7 p.m. Monday through Thursday I was dedicated to that and I needed to get my work done before that or after that,” she said.

As time went on, Sopitan transitioned from spending time with the volleyball team to being more active with SOPPS student organizations, but kept her mindset of getting work done before of after her obligations. “I like either getting work done before or after. And I’m not really an after-person because I like to be in bed by about 9 o’clock! I like to get things done quickly!”

She served as vice president of the Oncology Pharmacy Student Organization, helping to get it off the ground. “It was hard because it was during COVID, but we were still able to do the Relay for Life and the bone marrow match, which were really important areas for me,” she said.

Overall, the pandemic was a challenge for Sopitan and her fellow students. “The group message (everyone in the class) was always going crazy and someone was always posting something. That was the only way we could communicate with each other,” she said. “COVID was so mentally draining. I was the kind of student who always went to the pharmacy building. I just love being there and I couldn’t go there while campus was closed. I just needed to get on the phone with someone so I started sitting on Zoom with my friends.

“We still do it, every two weeks on Thursday we’ve had a girls’ night and on Zoom because everyone has been so far apart on rotations (known as Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences or APPEs).”

That fall semester of her second year was the hardest for her, Sopitan said, because she was taking cardiology; endocrine, renal and reproductive health; and gastrointestinal disease at the same time. Add in COVID and it was also the same semester that the exam format changed. “It completely changed how exams were taken, and the semester was shortened with no breaks,” she said. “It was a lot. Just the exam change would throw any student, so, reflecting on that, that’s why I became so close with the friends I have, doing study sessions. We had to find a way to interact with each other to show that we were there for each other.”

Sopitan also tutored first-, second- and third-year students for three years, and served on different committees for the SOPPS Student Government. As a member of the Communication Committee she helped start a newsletter for the school, and while on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Social committees, she hosted a combined event during Black History Month. “It was super, super cool and I was grateful to be trusted to host an event,” she said. “We also held fundraisers like a game night where everyone had to bring a can of food or a non-perishable. We ended up partnering with Student Government on it and I think now it happens every semester.”

As a fourth-year student, she and her classmates have been away on APPEs and completing a capstone research project, so her work with Student Government scaled back.

Gail Rattinger, professor of pharmaceutical sciences, was Sopitan’s primary mentor on her capstone project about post-secondary education for students with autism and the contact they have with disability services offices.

“The number of students with autism who are pursuing post-secondary education is exploding,” Rattinger said. “More people are being diagnosed, but more are attempting to navigate college and require more services. Teni explored some factors around that for her capstone.

“She worked hard on the project, and continued to develop a major attribute we want people to develop —resiliency. She was particularly resilient in her approach to this project.

“Teni also has good communication and leadership skills and is already professional in her demeanor,” Rattinger said. “She’s good at finding common ground and tries to meet people where they are, and that has served her well.

“What she is skilled at, I think, is taking setbacks and reframing them as challenges and opportunities,” Rattinger added.

Sopitan was also energized by her APPEs. Her favorite was critical care working in an ICU setting. “It can be very sad, but it really showed me how valuable a pharmacist is in a clinical setting,” she said. “It was so educational and everything you’d want in an APPE was there.”

“The last week of APPEs is going to be hard because we have so much to do, but I’m really looking forward to it because everyone’s going to be in the same place at the same time, sitting in the same seats we’ve sat in for all of pharmacy school like beginning again as we get the last steps done,” she said. “We’re all very big on just graduating after doing all the hard work!”

Along with her APPEs, Sopitan has prepped since November for the rigorous fellowship application process, and has been accepted to work as a fellow for RevHealth, a company that pharmaceutical companies contact for assistance with account management, and a member of the Industry Pharmacy Organization (IPhO). “It could be marketing, on the creative side, or an array of different things,” she said. “They also do some work on regulatory and medical affairs.

“I will be a marketing fellow working in content development, based in New Jersey, but I’m trying to see if I can work from home!” Sopitan said.

Even with the fellowship, she intends to get her pharmacy license and work some hours at a small, independent, family-owned pharmacy for a family friend. So, next up, is studying for, and taking, the NAPLEX (the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination).

Posted in: Campus News, Pharmacy