Brain cyst points Andy native toward career

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 16, 2014

Amber Anderson got a stunning diagnosis at 17, but it’s become one that would shape her future for years to come.

Anderson, a 2010 Andalusia High School graduate and recent graduate of AUM, said Thursday she found out as a teen, she had a cyst on her brain, which caused her to have intense headaches as many as four times per day.

“Without my medicine, I wouldn’t be able to function,” she said. “You don’t have control over what happens to you, but you are responsible for how you react.” 0516-Amber

Understanding the necessity of medication in her life, Anderson has embarked on a path to help others through the field of pharmacy, a decision she made as a sophomore or junior in high school.

“I want to help make everyone feel better, and make the world a better place,” she said. “At a pharmacy people can come in and ask questions.”

Anderson’s father, Bridges, recalled he and wife, Vickie, purchased her a chemistry set when she was younger.

“She had it everywhere,” he quipped.

To prepare herself, Anderson studied chemistry and physical science as an undergraduate and has been getting hands on training.

For the last two and a half years, Anderson has been gaining experience through working as a pharmacy tech.

“I love pharmacy and I feel comfortable doing it,” she said.

In the fall, she’ll begin a four-year journey to receive her doctorate in pharmacy at Samford University in Birmingham.

Her schedule will be full of 18 hours worth of classes, including labs, rotations and extracurricular activities encouraged by the school.

“They have also encouraged us not to work the first year,” she said.

On Thursday, Anderson became the first pharmacy major to receive an Andalusia Health Services scholarship.

“We are very proud of her,” said mom, Vickie, who serves as principal at Andalusia Middle School. “She has always been one to stick with something until the end.”

Anderson said the scholarship she received from Andalusia Health Services will be a tremendous help, and added she’s still looking for more scholarships to help alleviate the burden of $33,000 a year in tuition and fees.

“I want to thank the wonderful teachers in Andalusia, and my mom and dad for their support,” Anderson said. “They have always been my support system.”

Shirley Smith, scholarship selection committee chair, said those in the medical field were all getting older and there will be a need for pharmacists to replace those who would retire.