May 14, 2023
By Matt Crouch
AUBURN, Alabama – Like most students at the Harrison College of Pharmacy, Summer Ford gets up early every day to shower, do her hair and get dressed for a long day of class, lab and studying. Unlike most of her classmates, she also has the job of getting her daughter Hartley Kate up and ready for the day as a full-time mother and pharmacy student.
Oh, and some days, she does all of this while sharing her life through her 1.1 million followers on TikTok and nearly 200,000 followers on Instagram.
A native of Douglas, Alabama and a member of the Harrison College of Pharmacy Class of 2026, Ford’s daughter was born just a couple months before she crossed the stage at her White Coat Ceremony. Now at the conclusion of her first year of pharmacy school, Ford is ready to celebrate another milestone: her first Mother’s Day.
Looking forward to a day of church and family time, Ford is excited to celebrate her first Mother’s Day.
“I am so incredibly blessed to be a mom, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way,” said Ford. “I’m so excited to spend my first Mother’s Day with my daughter.”
From Douglas High School to Snead State Community College to The Plains of Auburn, she arrived last fall with her daughter in tow to begin the path toward her Pharm.D. The path began with a high school job that now has her working toward a career in health care.
“I started working at a pharmacy in high school and immediately loved the environment and the opportunity pharmacists have to make an impact on someone’s health,” said Ford. “I love the small town feel of Auburn and I knew this was where I wanted to go to pharmacy school.”
With so many obligations pulling her in different directions, Ford says her daughter is what keeps her going and focused on her school work.
“Pharmacy school is no doubt a challenge, but there is no motivation like having a daughter that looks up to you,” said Ford. “I have always wanted to be a pharmacist and I want her to see that I did not give up on my dream and that hard work pays off.”
One of the first pieces of advice pharmacy students get during orientation is to treat the program like a full-time job. Taking this approach and working for a balance that works for her has been key as she rounds out her first year in the Harrison College of Pharmacy program and begins her summer Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience rotations.
“Overall, I would say I’m juggling these responsibilities the best I can. Some days consist of studying all day and others are all about my daughter,” said Ford. “Creating a healthy balance between school and personal life is what has helped me.
“Treat this as a full-time job, and you will be amazed at what you can get done within the eight hours of the work day. I try my best to utilize my time during the day to complete assignments and study so I can be present at home and not feel overwhelmed with what I haven’t done.”
The other component of her busy life is the social media presence she has built over the last few years. Going by the handle @sumford on both TikTok and Instagram, she started posting “random day-in-the-life videos” in 2020. Her videos and posts seemed to resonate with people and her followers have grown exponentially since she started.
With the birth of her daughter and starting pharmacy school, the content has grown with her. She is also grateful for the opportunities the exposure has brought her.
“My content is mainly lifestyle and motherhood, and I think it is interesting to see a young mom in school that still has a passion for social media and content creation,” said Ford. “But really, I am so grateful for all of the opportunities that my following has given me. I get to go do so many cool things with brands and I would not be able to provide for my family without them.”
She feels like she has imposter syndrome when she runs into followers at the grocery store or around town, but she loves the community her presence has given her.
“I was thrilled, it was like having thousands of best friends,” said Ford on her growing followers. “I love that a lot of my followers are in the same boat as myself, moms or students just trying to do better for themselves. It is comforting to have so many people to relate to and also encourage them that we can do hard things.”
That encouragement is key as she continues toward her goal of being a pharmacist. She is grateful for friends and the community she has found in her class, and the excitement for the future, despite the time it takes her away from home.
“The most challenging part of pharmacy school is just simply the time it takes away from my personal life and time with my daughter,” said Ford. “But I know this is only a season, and it will be so worth it.”
While she is not sure yet where her career will take her, as she turns the page on year one of motherhood and pharmacy studies, she knows she just wants to help people and improve health outcomes.
“I have always loved this career field because of the opportunity that pharmacists have to make an impact on a patient’s health,” said Ford. “We can be the ones to encourage them on their health journey and give them confidence.”
Auburn University’s Harrison College of Pharmacy is ranked among the top 25 percent of all pharmacy programs in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report. Fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), the College offers doctoral degrees in pharmacy (Pharm.D.) and pharmaceutical sciences (Ph.D.) while also offering a master’s in pharmaceutical sciences. The College's commitment to world-class scholarship and interdisciplinary research speaks to Auburn's overarching Carnegie R1 designation that places Auburn among the top 100 doctoral research universities in the nation. For more information about the College, please call 334.844.8348 or visit http://pharmacy.auburn.edu.