Salutatorian is a Scholar — and a Weightlifter
Cristian Merchan will be honored during May 16 commencement at Barclays Center
Alka Gupta,Assistant Director of Public Relations
Long Island University
Brooklyn, N.Y. – As a sports-playing youngster with severe asthma, Cristian Merchan learned early on how to manage his illness and medications with the help of a pharmacist.
“By utilizing medications properly, I was able to run better, breathe better and live life like a normal person,” said Merchan, who has been named LIU Brooklyn, LIU Pharmacy and LIU Hudson’s salutatorian for the class of 2013. “I realized then that pharmacists could do more than dispense medication - they could help people become more comfortable with their illness.”
From these experiences, Merchan decided upon pharmacy as a career. Now, the 23-year-old from Valley Stream, L.I., will graduate with a doctor of pharmacy degree and a 3.99 grade-point average at the May 16 commencement ceremony.
Seventeen members of Merchan’s extended family will proudly attend the graduation event.
“It’s an accomplishment that represents the hard work you put in,” he said. “I appreciate everything people have done to help me get to this point in my life.”
Merchan has long been focused on his goals. Born and raised in Jackson Heights, Queens, he moved with his family to Long Island during his freshman year of high school. In school, he created a physical training program for overweight grade school and high school students. While studying at LIU Pharmacy, he continued to weightlift, placing second last year in the Mr. LIU Weightlifting Competition. Also while in college, he has worked in construction and at CVS Pharmacy, where he is still interning. This upcoming July, he will begin a prestigious pharmacy practice residency at NYU Langone Medical Center.
Merchan has particularly been interested in raising awareness of diabetes within the community. He was elected the director of Operation Diabetes for the American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists, in which capacity he created a team of healthcare professionals that included his mother, a registered nurse. He has organized diabetes and nutritional awareness campaigns in high schools, CVS and Walgreen pharmacies, New York Hospital of Queens and the Step Out Walk for diabetes at the South Street Seaport.
“What I am really proud of is extending this information to schools,” he said. “Right now, obesity is a growing trend in children. We counsel them on lifestyle modifications in which we teach them to read food labels and provide them with an app called “Fooducate,” which lets them scan the products they consume.
“We help them become more aware of their risks for obtaining diabetes.”
Merchan hopes to become a critical care pharmacist, as well as a professor at LIU Pharmacy. He is a member of the American Pharmacists Association, American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Pharmacy Leadership Society, Rho Chi, Alpha Lambda Delta, Alpha Chi, and American Society of Consultant Pharmacists.
His awards include the Merck Award (Pharmacology & Medicinal Chemistry), Merck Award (Medical Microbiology/Immunology), Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Recognition Award, Ron Del Gaudio/King Scholars Award, NY Leaders of Tomorrow Scholarship Award and Valley Stream Varsity Club Scholarship Award.
LIU Brooklyn is distinguished by...
dynamic curricula reflecting the great urban community it serves. Distinctive programs encompass the arts and media, the natural sciences, business, social policy, urban education, the health professions and pharmacy, and include the Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, the Ph.D. in Pharmaceutics, the D.P.T. in Physical Therapy and the Pharm.D. in Pharmacy. A vibrant urban oasis in downtown Brooklyn, this diverse and thriving campus offers academic excellence, personalized attention, small class size and flexible course schedules. In 2006, a $45-million Wellness, Recreation and Athletic Center was opened to serve the Campus and the surrounding community. In 2007, the Cyber Café was launched, providing a high-tech hot spot for students and faculty members to meet and eat.
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