It’s not everyday that a star is born, and yet Michael Conner ’12 has managed to burn brighter than ever. The new recipient of the 2014 California Pharmacists Association (CPhA) Distinguished New Practitioner of the Year award, Conner has gone above and beyond expectations to achieve this great honor, though it hasn’t been an easy road. Conner entered Pacific as a freshman in the pre-pharmacy program in 2005. Before receiving his doctor of pharmacy degree from the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in 2012, Conner focused on international studies in South Korea at Yonsei University of Seoul. While there, he also managed to find the time to teach English and Christian studies.
The process of becoming the award winner is a long and rigorous one; Conner was first nominated by Emeriti faculty, Ralph Saroyan ’64, the 2010 CPhA, Pharmacist of the Year and 2014 Gloria Niemeyer Francke Leadership Mentor Award recipient. He then had to exemplify leadership in professional, political, and community affairs, all the while being a licensed member of CPhA. As Conner puts it, “the award recipient must first ‘fail forward’ and grow. Next, you need the right support; I owe Pacific a lot for supporting my development throughout the years. They have really created an atmosphere that fosters leadership development.” As the Distinguished New Practitioner, Conner will be attending the West Coast Pharmacy Exchange as a pod leader for CPhA’s Leadership Development Institute. He will be facilitating three programs: CPhA’s Leadership Development Institute Project, an ASP program called “Four Critical Conversations for Effective Leadership” that focuses on communication, and “Prescribing Exercise: The Science Behind Exercise.”
At the Leadership Development Institute (LDI), Conner has learned important life lessons. He explains further, “LDI takes you off auto-pilot and raises your consciousness. I’m much more productive and effective now, and I’m having more fun because I know I’m spending my time on what I choose to do, aligning with my core values…I’ve applied so many tools and lessons from LDI in both my personal and professional life. It forces you to take ownership of your life, then it gives you tools that help enhance your ability to influence others.”
Conner has established his leadership abilities in his career as Target’s Executive Team Leader and Pharmacist. Thanks to Pacific, Conner has become a better leader for his team and for his patients at Target. Pacific has aided Conner in innumerable ways including providing plenty of opportunities for professional growth. Conner clarifies, “My choice to join Phi Delta Chi was probably one of my best. I continue to take advantage of my connections with the chapter and love supporting them as an alumnus.” Not only that, but Conner has Pacific to thank for bringing him and his new fiancé together; when I asked about his greatest achievement thus far, Conner replied, “This question is easy for me now. Everything else pales in comparison to the day I chose to follow my heart entirely and propose to my now fiancé, Jennifer Rodriguez ’13.” With his future in sight, Conner has planned to graduate with his Global MBA from Fresno Pacific University. He also hopes to further his involvement with CPhA and LDI, as well as start a fitness trend among pharmacists that encourages them to “walk the walk.” Conner is also training for his first Olympic Triathlon.
Though Conner has achieved many honors, he remains as humble as ever. In regards to winning the CPhA award Conner said, “I have never felt so honored, and I am motivated and energized to do even more. It’s as if I’m in this life-long journey, and along the way, people I love are encouraging me, running along side me, and helping me along the path. I really see this as “our” award because of how well my nominators and mentors have contributed to my development.” He also wanted to take the time to thank Shane Herbert, the healthcare business partner at Target, Divya Talajia, who has helped re-energize the local pharmacy association, Grant Lackey and his wife Jennifer West, who he worked with at the California Health Science University, Mike Negrete, who opened his mind to new ways of thinking, Gary Keil and Nancy Alvarez, facilitators for CPhA’s LDI, and lastly, Professor Saroyan, who has become not only a friend and brother, but a father as well.
As a newly distinguished pharmacist and leader, Conner’s advice to prospective students is this: “Time is of the absolute essence; live the life you want now. Don’t wait until you graduate…or retire. Get involved and grow; it will help you discover what you are truly passionate about and provide you with mentors who will change your life.”