ACPHS In The News

Panther Profile: Charles Middleton

Charles Middleton during the 2023 P3 sendoff, in a Panther Profile frame
May 3, 2024

Panther Profiles are Q&A interviews that highlight Panthers of all stripes -- students, faculty, staff, alumni, board members and anyone else in the campus community. 

Charles (Chuck) Middleton is a pharmacy doctoral candidate in the Class of 2024. During his six years at ACPHS, he has been captain of the men's soccer team for three years, president of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists’ campus chapter and vice president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. After graduation, he will be a pharmacy resident at the VA Medical Center in Syracuse, New York.

He was chosen among a group of nominees by his class to be their student speaker at the 2024 Commencement.

What inspired you to give a graduation speech?

I thought it'd be a great way to kind of “wrap up.” And it's something I like to do. I was a leader in a professional organization and on the soccer team. You give pregame talks at soccer games or you're leading a meeting at a professional organization.

One theme you plan to speak about is ACPHS’ tight-knit community. You graduated from a large public high school. What drew you to this campus?

I've always been interested in pursuing a career in health care. My mom and grandma were both nurse practitioners, so it's always been something in the back of my head. One of my friends from high school who is a couple of years older went to ACPHS, and he told me to check it out.

I only applied to a few colleges – a large public school, a large private school and ACPHS. What drew me in was hearing that you don't feel like you're lost here. I've never been in a 400-person lecture, for instance.

It's knowing everybody around you and knowing that all these people are going through the same challenges. At a larger school, you really wouldn't get that same support system unless you found a tight group within the larger community.

You also plan to talk about the Class of 2024’s journey. What is the most important experience that defines you?

I don’t like mentioning it too much, because everyone else mentions it, but it was COVID.

My class in the pharmacy doctorate program (most of whom enrolled in Fall 2018) had to make two big changes. First, we’re in this groove of going to class. We know when to study. Then all of a sudden, you’re home in your room studying all day, watching lectures. Then, suddenly, it switches, and you're totally in person.

The challenge associated with being online was not really having that human interaction. Being online, you miss events. In our P1 year (Fall 2020), it's your white coat ceremony; we were lucky to at least do an online version where we were in the student center, and our families were online. We had an athletic banquet we weren’t able to do for a couple of years. It was sad to miss those events.

Once things were back in person, most people were sick of being in their rooms. Some people chose to stay their room, but I was like, no, absolutely not. I thought of it as being a role model for some younger students who hadn't been able to be in person in class yet: let's show the younger class what the campus is all about.

You say in your speech outline that it’s a time of “unparalleled importance” for young professionals entering pharmacy and health sciences. What do you mean?

There's so much that’s new and so many new opportunities. And at the same time, you're seeing staff shortages – whether it's shortages in nursing, in pharmacies within the hospital and even in retail.

This is more specific to pharmacists, but there's so many new medications that are coming out right now, whether it's for diabetes, weight loss, oncology medications and a lot of the biologics – your physician might not be as aware of that. That's a role that we have to be ready to step into, to answer these questions.

How has ACPHS helped you determine your career pursuits?

If you know you want to do health sciences, ACPHS is the perfect school. You have that community, as I’ve mentioned. But also the training you get.

I can speak more about the pharmacy skills – it really gives you a glimpse into what different fields within pharmacy would be like. In skills lab, when you do hospital-based stuff, you’re doing IV compounding, you’re doing communication with providers at the hospital. In a different skills lab, it might be more retail focused or an ambulatory care setting.

I was able to do things firsthand. It's obviously not right in the hospital, right in the pharmacy. But taking what I learned from those experiences – whether it’s “I have to do this better,” “I didn’t really like this at all,” “I love doing this” – you can use it as a stepping stone.

Is there a particular thing you will leave the college with, that’s especially important to you?

ACPHS has provided me with relationships that I really don't think I would have gotten anywhere else. I've really been able to build that team around me, my best friends who I'm hoping I'll stay in touch with for the rest of my life.