A first-year Pharmacy student at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) is shocked but delighted to have won a UK-wide essay competition.
Zain Mohammed looked at whether pharmacy has a future in an increasingly market-driven healthcare setting for the annual challenge.
He spent several weeks researching the topic and writing the 2,500-word essay and his efforts paid off - winning him first prize of £500!
The 19-year-old said: "I have no words to describe it, mainly because I was so surprised to win.
"I didn't realise at first it was a national competition - I thought I might have a chance if it was run by the university and resigned myself that I might not even get runner-up."
As someone who enjoys writing, Zain decided to enter the competition because of his interest in the topic.
He said: "I believe it was referring to the future of community pharmacies, which is a real issue of concern to pharmacy students and professionals.
"What are these pharmacies going to do? Will there still be jobs or could we replace the pharmacy?
"I argued if pharmacy wants a future, pharmacists have to step up their game and have a more clinical role and act like the healthcare professionals they can be.
"The solution is better communication and better guidelines looking at the wider issues and providing incentives."
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Zain chose to study pharmacy because of family members who are healthcare professionals.
"I enjoy chemistry and formulations and pharmacy has scope in terms of roles," he said.
"DMU appealed because of its emphasis on employability and links with employers."
Zain has enjoyed his first year and embraced university life as a representative on the Staff Student Consultative Committee.
"I'm not satisfied sitting by and like taking an active role," he said.
"My favourite part of the course has been chemistry. The teaching is a good balance of lecturers being available when you need them but not micromanaging us.
"University has been an enlightening experience and I have grown a lot."
Zain, who produces a politics show for Unity FM in Birmingham, will be spending the summer as a senior mentor for the National Citizen Service programme.
He said: "It will be fun but a challenge and I'll welcome it."
Coming back to DMU for his second year will see him move a step closer to his career goal of academia and research.
Senior Lecturer Helen Root says entering the essay competition, organised by the Pharmacy Law and Ethics Association (PLEA), could help raise Zain's profile.
She said: "The title was challenging!
"It demonstrates Zain's not just your standard student. He's thinking about his career and what pharmacy means."
PLEA is an independent, non-profit association, which organises an annual essay competition to encourage undergraduate pharmacy students across the UK to engage with a specific area of law and ethics.
Posted on Tuesday 7th June 2016