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The Catalyst

Former MMA fighter transitions to professional role

By J. Ryne Danielson
Public Relations

Mike Corvino lands a strong kick to his opponent at an MMA fight in October 2012. photo by Action Fighter Media

Alter egos are for comic book characters, not students in pharmacy school. Mild-mannered student by day, merciless fighter by night—it might make for a great movie, but it’s not the stuff of real life. Or is it?

Meet Mike Corvino, PharmD graduate, MMA fighter.

“I always knew I wanted to do something in the medical field,” Corvino said. “I was thinking medical school at first, and then pharmacy came into the picture. I was going back and forth, but I liked the fact that with pharmacy you can jump into a lot of different things pretty easily, and there are so many job opportunities in so many different fields with a pharmacy degree. I didn’t want a career where I felt stuck. I get bored if I stay in one place too long.”

It’s ironic, then, that someone afraid of being stuck is so willing to step into a cage and go one–on–one in a brutal, full-contact sport like mixed martial arts.

“I’ve done martial arts my whole life,” Corvino said, explaining that he started at the age of four with Shotokan, an Okinawan style of karate focusing on balance and efficiency, before moving on to other forms such as wrestling, Brazilian jujitsu, and muay Thai. Eventually he earned a black belt in Shaolin Kempo, a versatile martial art that emphasizes grappling in addition to striking.

At that point, his career shifted. “I started fighting as an amateur toward the end of undergrad and, during my first year of pharmacy school, I got an offer to go pro.”

His classmates often joked that he was just fighting to drum up business, Corvino said, so that his opponents would have to come to him afterward to get patched up.

For his first years in pharmacy school, Corvino’s schedule was as grueling workout routine. “I was training 30 to 40 hours a week, on top of school,” he said.

Always exhausted at the end of a long day, he made sure to study before going to the gym, not having the energy to even open a book by the time his workout was finished.

Pharmacists Mike and Jennifer Corvino show off their new practice licenses. photo provided

“It was life–consuming,” he added. “But it helped me develop time management skills.”

Corvino eventually realized that, as much as he wanted to, he could not do both. “I had to pick one or the other,” he said. “It was a hard decision, but it got easier. I got to spend a lot more time with my wife.”
Corvino’s wife, Jennifer, whom he met at pharmacy school, graduated a year ahead of him from the same program. They bought a house in Charleston and plan to remain in the area.  “I love Charleston,” he said. “I grew up here.”

Corvino has signed a contract with Walgreens and plans to go to work as a pharmacist right away. “I’m also looking into part-time hospital pharmacy work and maybe even trying to teach at an undergraduate level,” he said.

Corvino enjoys teaching and would like the opportunity to pass on some of the guidance his mentors gave him. “James Sterrett, Scott Bragg, Wayne Weart and Marc Lapointe – they were all very supportive of me throughout school and steered me toward becoming the pharmacist I want to be.”

“Mike is one of the most dedicated, caring, and hardworking students I’ve had in the last several years,” said Weart, PharmD, a professor in the College of Pharmacy. Weart said that even though his classwork is finished, Corvino still goes out of his way to learn all he can and become the best pharmacist he can be. “He’s a class act – a fine, fine young man.”

James Sterrett, PharmD, assistant professor in the College of Pharmacy, said he has known Corvino for five years. Sterrett recently nominated Corvino for the Community Pharmacy/Natural Medicine Award, which Corvino won.

“I met him while he was working at Walgreens as a technician,” Sterrett said. “I quickly recognized him as a curious, dedicated and highly intelligent young man. I mentored him during his College of Pharmacy application process and, after his acceptance, I continued to follow his development as a professor, mentor, and friend.

“Although Mike finished in April, he has been back to campus on several occasions to attend voluntary sessions in evidence–based medicine and clinical patient reviews. Walgreens and our Charleston community are fortunate to have Michael joining them; he will be an exceptional pharmacist.”

May 25, 2015



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