Zack’s Story

College, Facing Our Futures Beyond High School from Ohio Northern University (Ada, Ohio), Students

As told to Albert Akyeampong

I did not know the next direction in my life when I was young. I was called to the game named baseball.  There was nothing like being in the field of green and brown but I was also called to serving others, what I call the academic route, that of learning the art of pharmacy and using it to serve others.  Schools called me to play, other schools called me to learn.  I was torn, indecisive, I did not know the next move.

I loved the field so much when I was young and passed out playing outside one day.  I forgot the need to drink water; instead, I answered the desire to play. I am guided by the quote from Winston Churchill, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

I am a fifth-year pharmacy student at Ohio Northern University. I was born in Washington, DC, and moved to Akron when I was three years old.  I am very close to my family, especially my mother. My Parents didn’t want to raise kids in a big city and decided to live in the suburbs. I grew up in a neighborhood with a lot of young kids of my age who I regularly played with and enjoyed spending a lot of time outside. When it was time to go to elementary school, my parents made the decision I was ready. My Great grandfather moved from Italy and settled in Pennsylvania where he started a motorcycle franchise. When I came to Ohio Northern University, I knew that I wanted to serve others and this made me choose the Academic route at Ohio Northern University (ONU). This was my first and only choice after making this decision.  However, the call to play ball resonated with me.  I represented ONU as a ball player for three years and coached for one.  Although I now consider myself “retired,” I still love the game.

I love the feel of the field, but again, I was called to serve.  It was my mission; in fact, I went to the Dominican Republic to serve.  I consider myself as someone who wants to know where he works, the people he works with and I will seek this out. I remember my time in the Dominican Republic vividly, thinking to myself, “this is my ideal occupation.” Perhaps my vocation is to lead kids or youth and adults into medical missions. I remember all that I gained and want to give that gift to others. I love the energy you can get in a community.

In the Dominican Republic, the energy from the community was so positive. What shocked me the most is the beauty of the land. The land was so pristine.  The untouched nature of the land left me in awe as we drove from the airport.  When we were driving from the airport, the ocean and the mountains left me speechless. The receptiveness of the people was amazing, very welcoming and wanting to help.

The other moment I will never forget was at a clinic in the Dominican Republic.  I was at a clinic and visited a woman’s home. She was living in a small house made of four cardboards with a roofing sheet on top. This was all she had. It was unlike anything I have ever seen or experienced before. She looked frail but had a smile. Her daughter was helping her at home. The woman gave birth to her daughter when she was ten years old. The woman couldn’t move, but when we walked in she was welcoming. There and then my passion to go on international mission work was born. I come from a strong faith-based family and community, and these influenced my desire to help others. My goal is to graduate and teach pharmacy class, international aid and create a medical mission that will help with communities abroad. The experience of going on missions like this through church and ONU has served to prepare me for future endeavors. My desire to serve has also been influenced by my early days of school, especially high school.

I learnt a lot about service during high school. High school was normal for me. In fact I was very happy at school, surrounded by family, friends and church community. In my high school I remember seeing people go on international trips to help. This really motivated me at an early age to see how one can make a difference. I remember sitting in a computer lab in high school, and a friend was talking to me about what he was doing — coming to ONU. I started looking into it. I decided to find out for myself what ONU and Ada was like. When I finally visited, I felt that this is where I wanted to be. There was something about ONU that I couldn’t put my finger on, but it felt right. I feel at home, safe and comfortable at ONU. Campus feels like a big family. Professors and students are nice and helpful. The overall closeness of the campus community and accessibility of professors is incredible. It is no surprise that some of the people that have influenced my life are in ONU.

The people that have influenced me the most include Chris (Dr. Chris North ). Chris has been a great mentor. Without her I wouldn’t know the opportunities I could have. I took a class with her– an extra disciplinary class.  Dan Krinsky is a pharmacist and to me a strong and influential figure who I look up to, as he started a medical mission at our church at home. It opened my eyes to the fact that it is something I want to do. Finally, a teacher and my baseball coach in high school who regularly goes on mission trips. He is the selfless, genuine human being who embodies compassion, a great role model! All these people are an inspiration and motivate me to serve others. I am also inspired by the quote, “We shall pass through this world but once. Any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again” – Henry Drummond.

Each day I feel a sense of excitement as I get closer toward accomplishing my goal. I am called to serve and service to humanity is my ultimate goal in life.

This story originally appeared in Facing Our Futures Beyond High School, a publication of The Facing Project that was organized by Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio.

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