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Baby steps

Supportive network helps 'deliver' a pharmacy degree for spring graduate

special feature: Student success spring 2018

Part of a special feature celebrating the success of Memorial's graduates. This feature coincides with spring 2018 convocation ceremonies.

By Heidi Wicks

Daunted doesn’t even begin to describe how Jillian McInnis felt when she discovered she would become a mother to baby Jack during her final year of pharmacy school.

“I was terrified! I didn’t know if I could do it. Was it the right time? Could I finish school?” said the Stratford, PEI, native, who will collect her bachelor of pharmacy degree at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre on Thursday, May 31.

“I drew on the support of my parents, and my brother and his wife, who went through pregnancies that weren’t at the most opportune time.”

Her mother was just 16 when Ms. McInnis’ older sister was born, and her brother was 14 when his daughter was born.

“I knew it would probably be the toughest thing I would have to go through, but I knew I had support.”

Coping with the pressure

Jack arrived on Dec. 19, 2017. With a two-week-old newborn at home, she returned to school a little nervous.

“Coming to school this past September at 20-some weeks pregnant, I was a little embarrassed,” she admitted.

“I didn’t know what my classmates would think of me. But I can honestly say, they were so supportive, encouraging and downright excited for Jason and me. It meant the world to me and I can’t thank them enough.”

From left, Jason Jones, Jillian McInnis and baby Jack.

Her fiancé, Jason Jones, was pivotal in helping her cope with the pressure. Ms. McInnis says he took full parental leave so she could finish school. Mr. Jones got up with the baby at night to feed him or to comfort him so she could attend school the next day as rested as possible.

“With the strength he provided me and my drive to not give up, I did it,” Ms. McInnis said. “Because in the end, I was finishing school not only for me, but for my son who I can finally provide a good life for.”

Changed worldview

She adds that support from faculty members Drs. Stephanie Young, Lisa Bishop and John Hawboldt was paramount in reaching graduation. Her perspective on the pharmacy profession has changed as well, in that she can now relate to patients on a different level.

“There have been many a question, story, discussion, from patients about their children, that of course I tried to empathize with, but it was hard since I didn’t have the experience,” she said.

“Now, I can relate to those feelings of stress or anxiety when a patient’s child is sick. I think that empathy and now personal experience will only make me a better pharmacist for my patients.”

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