Meet Erin Light
Erin Light is a third-year student pharmacist in the ETSU Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy. At age 36, she readily admits she has taken the long road – one filled with several unexpected turns – to get to this point. The Bulls Gap native who now lives in Greeneville has been a pharmacy tech since 2001 and is a single mom to daughter, Emma, 9. She is the correspondent for the Gamma Delta chapter of the pharmacy fraternity Phi Delta Chi at Gatton.
Q: Why did you decide to go to pharmacy school?
A: I’ve always wanted to go to pharmacy school. I graduated from high school in 1999 and I went to work at Cunningham Drugs in Bulls Gap. That is when I decided this is what I wanted to do. I had gone to undergraduate studies, but then I got married and then I had a baby. I always wanted to come back to pharmacy, but it was a bit of a convoluted path. I eventually got an associate degree from Northeast State Community College and then got my bachelor’s degree in chemistry from ETSU in 2013. The pharmacist I worked for at Food City at the time pushed me to go to pharmacy school, and that was the push I needed.
Q: How has Gatton helped you achieve your dreams?
A: It’s the only pharmacy school I applied to because I wanted to stay in this area and wanted to be here for my daughter. I didn’t want to have to take her out of her school. So Gatton helped me be able to stay here and still achieve my dreams of becoming a pharmacist.
Q: What do you want to do when you graduate?
A: I would like to work in a retail pharmacy either in Johnson City or Greeneville.
Q: Talk a little about your experience as a non-traditional student.
A: As a non-traditional student – in undergrad and pharmacy school – it is tough, especially in pharmacy school. We have students who aren’t even 21 yet and I am 36. That 15-year difference is tough. I feel like, at this age, your brain doesn’t work as well as it used to so keeping up requires more studying, but it is definitely doable. Gatton really works with you, especially with me having a child. They are very understanding of outside responsibilities. It’s a very family-oriented pharmacy school.
Q: You have experienced some pretty significant loss in your life. Tell us a little about that and how it has impacted you.
A: My husband passed away in 2009 when my daughter wasn’t quite a year old. It took me about a year to regroup and figure out what I was going to do, whether or not I was going to go back to school and if I could take all that on. My husband not being there motivated me to want to do more with my life to be a positive influence on my daughter and to let her see you can do anything. Even when life throws things at you that you might not be expecting, you can overcome them and carry on with your dreams to make them a reality. In life, you just have to realize that some things are meant to be and some things aren’t. Sometimes you have to let go of things. It is important to persevere and, even when bad things happen, just keep going and find the good that you can in situations. Don’t let those things keep you from achieving your dreams.