St. Michael's College grad who loves pharmacology administers advice

June 14, 2021 by Sean McNeely - A&S News

Adam Da Costa Gomes is intrigued by medications and their ability to make positive change in the body and mind. Graduating as a member of St. Michael’s College (SMC), the recent University of Toronto Student Leadership Award (UTSLA) winner believes high-quality academics mixed with a steady dose of extracurricular activities to boost equality on campus was the right prescription for success.

What did you study and why?

I'll be graduating with an honours bachelor of science with a double-major in neuroscience and pharmacology and a minor in Portuguese. I find neuroscience interesting because I see it as the biology behind psychology, and my family is of European Portuguese descent so I wanted to stay tied to my heritage. Neuroscience is a vast field, so I found a niche in neuropharmacology to learn more about drugs and drug development.

I find the drug development process extremely fascinating. It never ceases to amaze me how we can curate specific molecules, genes and proteins that act on specific targets in order to treat and/or cure specific pathologies. I also find it very exciting how altering neural firing rates via psychoactive pharmacology can directly influence our thoughts, emotions and perceptions.

What were your activities outside the classroom?

I was lucky to be involved in a plethora of extracurriculars during my time at U of T. Within the larger university community, I’ve been on the executive council of the University of Toronto Portuguese Association for four years. I was a research assistant in the lab of Professor Susanne Ferber, focusing on experiment administration and data collection for a PhD student.

I also sit on the Faculty of Arts & Science Mental Health Initiatives Committee, where I provide insight on the undergraduate experience to Dean Woodin's office. Within St. Michael's College, I’ve participated in three orientations as a staff member, and I’m a co-founding and current executive member of SMCInclusive, the pro-LGBTQ2S+ student club at the college.

Through these intra-college leadership experiences, I’ve attended quite a few meetings with senior administration of the college on how to improve student life. Meeting topics have ranged from deciding what to sell at the new cafe on campus to shaping mental health strategy and how the college can continue working to become more LGBTQ2S+ friendly.

Adam Da Costa.
Adam Da Costa Gomes has been a champion of equity and inclusivity on campus.

Clearly inclusivity and equality are important to you. Could you expand on that?

Equity and inclusivity are so important to all members of the U of T community because the university experience should be positive for all and free of any form of discrimination. With regards to specific initiatives for the LGBTQ2S+ community, I would like to see the University and the colleges provide LGBTQ2S+ clubs/associations a greater seat at the table within the respective constituencies that they represent.

I think that administration should be listening to the requests of these student groups and work together to build some of the lasting changes they are asking for, such as permanent spaces at some colleges, or additional resources at others.

Could you share a memorable experience at U of T?

I'm blessed to have had many memorable experiences, but the one that comes to mind was during the orientation where I served as the executive for event planning. My team and I were able to plan a formal event for our orientation students at the Royal Ontario Museum.

Students were overjoyed to get dressed up in formal attire and dance to our DJ's amazing setlist through the two exhibit spaces we rented. Seeing the happiness on their faces and the fun they were having, as well as the incredible praise at the end of the event and the next day was so wonderful. I'll never forget the positive feedback we received and hope that it can be something that continues when orientations become in-person again.

What would you say to someone considering U of T and St. Michael’s College?

To someone considering SMC and U of T, I would 110 per cent recommend applying, regardless of program choice. While the university is known for being quite difficult and stressful academically, the community life at SMC is unparalleled and really helps mitigate the academic stress that can quickly bubble up. At SMC, if you take the opportunities to get involved, you will never be disappointed!

What’s next for you?

As of right now, I've got a summer position as a pharmacy assistant at a chronic care specialty pharmacy. The pharmacy specializes in medication therapy management for patients with chronic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and osteoporosis. There are also cancer therapeutics that we fill prescriptions for, which I also find really interesting.

As for September, I’ve accepted my offer of admission to the PharmD program at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, so I'll be back on campus! I’m very blessed for the opportunity to begin doctoral-level studies and am very excited for all of the new doors that the program will open for me.

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