Nome is one of 12 pharmacy students nationwide to receive a 2023 Student Leadership Award from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists
By Olivia Bouchard & Katie Gerhards
Certain attributes of leadership come naturally, while others require practice and development. For Michael Nome, a fourth-year class of 2024 PharmD student at the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Pharmacy, he credits his parents, family, and mentors for helping him strengthen his leadership skills.
Growing up, Nome had two loving parents who worked long hours, and as an elder sibling, many responsibilities were handed to him, including looking after his younger siblings.
These experiences in his home and more later translated to his academic success, starting as an undergrad at UW–La Crosse.
“I began to see the kind of person I was, and that I was able to influence my fellow peers in positive ways,” he says. “I had a knack for it.”
As he entered the PharmD program at the UW–Madison School of Pharmacy, that knack took the form of being an inspirational student leader, widely recognized and appreciated by his peers. And now this acknowledgement is coming from a national organization: Nome is being honored with a 2022–23 Student Leadership Award from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. He is one of just 12 student pharmacists nationwide being recognized for their strong leadership skills.
“Winning this award was really humbling; I couldn’t believe it,” Nome says. “I am humbled by the fact that they considered me for this award individually.”
As a third-year PharmD student, Nome has already accumulated numerous awards and scholarships — including a 2023 scholarship from the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) Foundation and a 2023 Christopher Decker Pharmacy Scholarship from the Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin — all tying back to one common thread: his success in leadership positions, such as his roles in student organizations.
“I am incredibly grateful for the scholarship opportunities provided by the School, which were made possible by the generous contributions of alumni and other donors,” says Nome. “This support has provided me with the necessary resources to pursue my academic journey in pharmacy school while also engaging in community service.”
Becoming a leader
Nome’s leadership journey began well before he landed on the UW–Madison campus. In his hometown in Nigeria, Nome co-founded Divine Trinity Schools in 2018 and still serves as its CEO. As only a sophomore in college, he created the vision for the school, coordinated the academic curriculum, managed its finances, and developed a teacher training program.
“As I pondered on the key factors that have contributed to my success so far, I realized that a high-quality primary education played a significant role,” he says. “The state government provided a substandard education system during that time, which made me appreciate the value of attending a good school even more.”
He also noticed that, because of a lack of childcare outside of school hours, many children were involved in accidents while accompanying their mothers to busy areas to sell goods to earn money.
“I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to give back to my community and create an environment where children can explore their creativity and imagination unapologetically, without any limitations.”
“After careful consideration, I developed a school model that operates on a pay-as-you-go basis to ease the financial burden on families who live from hand to mouth,” Nome says. “Additionally, I established an after-school program to provide a safe haven for children while their parents work. This way, parents can have peace of mind, knowing that their kids are safe and secure under our care.”
Divine Trinity Schools is in its fifth year, and Nome continues to participate in its success, offering a guiding hand, even from overseas.
“I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to give back to my community and create an environment where children can explore their creativity and imagination unapologetically, without any limitations,” he says.
Thriving in pharmacy
Accustomed to hard work, Nome spent his free time as an undergrad working full-time. Coming to the School of Pharmacy, Nome didn’t expect to be able to participate in many — or any — student organizations. But that all changed when he started receiving scholarships, which has given him more time to devote to studying and getting involved with student groups.
“Because I didn’t have to work, I could dedicate my time and passion to helping my fellow students become better at whatever they’re doing and helping improve patient care around my area,” says Nome. “The source code that I work with is to marginally improve anything, everything around me.”
The School of Pharmacy offers many opportunities, large and small, to get involved in leadership, says Nome. He holds leadership positions in many different organizations across the School of Pharmacy organizations, including serving as president of the nationally awarded Wisconsin Society of Pharmacy Students (WSPS), Rho Chi student senate representative, and a hospitality coordinator for the Christian Pharmacy Fellowship International. Beyond the School, he’s completed two APhA Academy of Student Pharmacists Summer Leadership Institute meetings and two additional booster sessions.
“Leadership is just continually trying to make things better,” says Nome. “And the School of Pharmacy supports that mindset with the curriculum and co-curricular activities from the get-go.”
Many of Nome’s mentors have come from the School of Pharmacy. Andrea Porter (PharmD ‘06), associate professor in the School’s Pharmacy Practice and Translational Research Division (PPTRD) and faculty advisor to WSPS, has been influential in Nome’s development, helping him push his thought process and figure out a path that works for him.
Professor Beth Martin (BS ’90, MS ’03, PhD ’06), PPRTD chair and assistant dean for teaching and learning, has inspired him with her ability to bring people together to solve a problem, while PPTRD Professor Eva Vivian, who Nome worked with closely on research, has been instrumental in shaping Nome’s commitment to improvement.
“To make things better, you have to work with humans, so you need to understand how they communicate and how to effectively talk with them from a practical point of view,” says Nome.
Nome also draws inspiration from practitioners outside the School, whom he has connected with during internships and clerkships. For example, Ellina Seckel, associate chief of pharmacy at the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital, has a leadership style the resonates with him.
“As a leader, she is very servant-like and down to earth,” he says.
Improving health equity
As part of his commitment to improving healthcare, Nome has a special interest in addressing health equity. He has joined Professor Eva Vivian for several research projects and outreach activities geared toward diabetes self-management in African American communities, and he’s woven it into his work with WSPS. In 2022, he introduced a Health Equity Warrior Award that students could earn for finding creatives solution to fight health disparities in Wisconsin.
“That has to be one of my proudest moments, just watching people change the way they think about things differently,” says Nome.
“I want to leave things better than I found them.”
After graduation, Nome hopes to use his research and leadership experience to help improve health equity in the clinical trial space by ensuring representation among study participants.
“I hope I’ll be lucky enough to help bring drugs to market and simultaneously help improve health equity and in clinical research spaces,” says Nome. “I want to leave things better than I found them.”