Release Date: 
Monday, September 28, 2020

HFC in the family: aspiring chef becomes a pharmacist while sister shines in culinary arts

headshot of Gozdzialski

Originally, HFC alumnus Dr. Mike Gozdzialski (“guz-jel-ski”) planned to go into the culinary field.

He took classes in HFC’s renowned Culinary Arts program alongside his older sister Kristin Macan, who’s currently the director of community kitchens and programs for Mercy Chefs, a Virginia-based non-profit disaster relief organization that serves professionally prepared meals to victims, volunteers, and first responders during national emergencies and natural disasters.

“When my sister and I were taking classes at the College, she had a near perfect GPA. Both of us had a dream to go to the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), considered the best in the world. Our family did not have enough money to support both of us going to a private 4-year, $100,000-dollar culinary school like CIA. We both applied for the ‘Cream of the Crop’ scholarship, which was a half-tuition scholarship. My sister got the scholarship, but I did not get accepted,” explained Gozdzialski, of Harrison Township.

From culinary to pharmacy

After traveling and working in several restaurants, Gozdzialski decided it was time to change career paths. He enrolled in the pre-pharmacy program at HFC.

“Honestly, it was originally about financial security,” said Gozdzialski, a 2000 alumnus of Fordson High School. “After starting the prerequisite courses, I quickly fell in love with the science and problem-solving aspects of pharmacy. I attribute my passion for the profession to the passion of the instructors at HFC.”

He specifically cites chemistry professors Dr. Laura Yeakel, Dr. Stacey Buchanan, and Dr. Todd Whitaker as inspiring his success in the Pre-Pharmacy program.

“The challenge of the chemistry curriculum was second to none. All three are amazing mentors, and I am certain I would not be a pharmacist without their passion for teaching and friendship,” said Gozdzialski. “When I was taking the Pharmacy College Admission Test for pharmacy school, I could applied to Wayne State University. Wayne State was one of the most difficult pharmacy schools to get into, and my chemistry score was in the top 15 percent or so among all applicants. The chemistry seemed easy because of the challenging program at HFC."

Strong work ethic, and volunteer activities

After earning his associated degree in pre-pharmacy from HFC in 2011, Gozdzialski earned his bachelor’s degree in health science from Wayne State and his doctorate in pharmacy from Wayne State’s Pharmacy School. He has earned certifications in immunization from the American Pharmacists Association, as well as in CPR and Basic Life Support from the American Heart Association.

During his time at Wayne State, he was president of the Wayne State Pharmacy Class of 2015; senior medication representative for the World Health Student Organization; the regional province historian for Kappa Psi Pharmaceutical Fraternity, where he also served as the sergeant-at-arms and house manager the prior year.

"Two things about Mike stand out in my memory: His work ethic and his determination to use all his skills and training to serve. I have not had a student with a work ethic that comes close to his. Even as a pharmacist, he has continued to use his culinary training to volunteer with Mercy Chefs in natural disaster areas," said Yeakel.

“Without HFC, I would not be where I am today”

Gozdzialski has worked as a floating pharmacist for Target and CVS Pharmacy, where he has also been a pharmacy manager. Currently, he works as an IT specialist designing the pharmacy aspects of a nationwide health system for Trinity Health in Livonia, the second-largest non-profit healthcare system in the nation, comprising 95 hospitals in 22 states.

“The IT aspect of my position is building the Epic electronic medical record,” he said. “I am extremely fortunate to be in this position in my career. We have been told there are less than 500 Epic-certified pharmacists in the entire nation, and we are highly sought after.”

Gozdzialski is grateful for the start he received at HFC.

“I invited Dr. Whitaker and Dr. Yeakel to my pharmacy graduation to thank them during my speech as class president,” said Gozdzialski. “Without HFC, I would not be where I am today.”