We’re excited to introduce you to Audrey Kostrzewa, PharmD, MPH, BCPS!
Aside from her impressive career as a pharmacist and a professor, Dr. Kostrzewa has been a Girl Scout for many years. She’s enjoyed her time as a Girl Scout thoroughly and believes that it’s helped to propel her career forward as a woman in a STEM field.
We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to ask Dr. Kostrzewa some questions about her career and her time as a Girl Scout. Here’s what she had to say!
When and where did you first become involved in the Girl Scouts?
I first became involved with the Girl Scouts when I was in kindergarten in Roseville, MN.
How long were you a Girl Scout?
I still am a Girl Scout! I spent my years from kindergarten through twelfth grade as a Girl Scout and now I’m a Lifetime Girl Scout.
What are some of the important values, lessons, and skills you learned as a Girl Scout?
When reflecting on my years of badge work, meetings, fundraising, field trips, sleepovers, camps, etc., the most important things I gained during my time as a Girl Scout are the following:
- Heart – a love for service
- Gut – motivation for lifelong learning
- Head – tangible/translatable skills to bring with me into the world
I like to think my time as a Girl Scout helped me grow into a well-rounded and productive citizen and a compassionate pharmacist who deeply cares about her students, patients, and community.
I also had SO MUCH FUN as a Girl Scout. Thinking back on the experiences I had brings a big smile to my face. The memories that stick out the most for me are:
- SWAPS at camp (SWAPS are small homemade friendship tokens)
- Sleepovers in the natural history museum and planetarium
- A field trip to the science museum to learn about cryogenics (from an awesome female scientist!)
- A big trip to the U.K. with my troop after saving up fundraising money for years
- Accepting my Gold Award on stage during my senior year of high school
The values, lessons, and skills gained by participating in the Girl Scouts are certainly important, but so is all the fun!
How do these values, lessons, and skills apply to your role as a pharmacist?
Service is the pinnacle of my role as a pharmacist and a faculty member. Service to the community, service to the school/university, and service to the profession aren’t only valued greatly but are also an expectation in my current role. My time as a Girl Scout instilled the importance of service in me at a young age through various volunteering and fundraising efforts.
Every year, there are many new medications that come to market and new evidence that may change how we use medications. As a pharmacist, it’s my job to ensure I’m up-to-date on all this new information, which is no easy task. When I completed badge work and sought out various learning opportunities as a Girl Scout, I was practicing lifelong learning, which is essential to my life now as a pharmacist.
Practical Knowledge & Soft Skills
Besides clinical knowledge, I use a lot of practical knowledge and soft skills in my day-to-day work as a professor and medication use pharmacist, such as teaching learners and patients, providing feedback, running a meeting, managing a project, multi-tasking, prioritizing, working as part of a team, communicating with various stakeholders, etc. Through the Girl Scouts—especially when carrying out my Bronze, Silver, and Gold Award projects—I was able to hone some of these tangible and translatable skills.
Just like when I was a Girl Scout, I also have fun as a pharmacist. Making a difference in patients’ lives and helping shape the next generation of pharmacists is both rewarding and enjoyable. I believe it’s very important to love what you do!
Did your involvement in the Girl Scouts influence your choice to pursue a career in healthcare or pharmacy in any way? If so, how?
Absolutely. I was exposed to many STEM careers as a Girl Scout. Although I didn’t choose pharmacy specifically until college, my interest and knowledge in science- and math-focused careers—especially as it relates to opportunities for women—is owed to Girl Scouts.
In fact, the cover letter I wrote for my pharmacy school application was all about how my experience in Girl Scouts prepared me to be a good pharmacist!
Are you still involved with the Girl Scouts today?
I’m a Lifetime Member of the Girl Scouts. So, while I’m not as involved with the organization today, I do receive regular communications from the Girl Scout Network that allow me to keep a pulse on the organization.
I also look forward to buying cookies each year and support local troops through fundraising whenever I can. I have two little boys at home. So, when they’re of age, I plan to be involved with their scouting experience.
Are there specific Girl Scout programs or badges you’d recommend for Girl Scouts interested in STEM fields like pharmacy? If so, which programs or badges do you recommend?
Any STEM- or leadership-related programs or badges would be very helpful for those interested in pharmacy. I’d also encourage Girl Scouts to use their Bronze, Silver, and Gold Award opportunities to explore the pharmacy field. Those projects can be used as a platform or lift-off point to do some meaningful work and set themselves up for success!
What advice do you have for young Girl Scouts who might be interested in pursuing a career in healthcare or pharmacy some day?
My advice for young Girl Scouts would be to stay involved in the organization! They’ll get so much out of their experiences, including fun (most importantly!), lifelong friends, and knowledge/skills to help them be successful in both life and career.
I think Girl Scouts is a great way to prepare for a career that combines a love of science and service to others, which is what pharmacy is all about. As pharmacists, we’re knowledgeable, accessible healthcare professionals who provide outstanding quality care to our communities.
Want to learn more?
Are you inspired by Dr. Kostrzewa’s career as a pharmacist and her experience with the Girl Scouts? Do you know a young girl who may benefit similarly from the STEM experiences provided by Girl Scouts?
We encourage you to check out the upcoming Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital Expo event at the Dulles Expo Center on November 16, 2019 (more information can be found here)! Or, learn how to get involved on their website.