The pharmacy graduate pursues his passions for local eats and community health
Whether sampling the fare at a new gastropub, indulging in a little guilty pleasure at a confectionery or taking up residence at a local café, Anthony Willett ’18 PharmD is everywhere his followers want to be. As the founder of SAFood.E, a digital hub for food fun in the Alamo City and surrounding areas, Willett shares his love of local “plates, places and sips” with his fellow food fans on his website and via social media.
Just over two years ago, Willett was looking for a little escape. The recent graduate of the University of the Incarnate Word’s Feik School of Pharmacy (FSOP) was then mid-way through the challenging four-year program, and was busy meeting and exceeding its demands, when he decided he needed a hobby to take his mind off of the rigors of academic life.
“I followed a lot of other foodies on Instagram,” said Willett, a self-avowed food lover. “I already liked photography, so I thought, I’ll just do it. Sounds like fun.”
What started as a fun pastime soon became its own enterprise. As Willett continued to publish mouth-watering photos, stories and insights, SAFood.E social media accounts began to grow, businesses started issuing invitations and the media took notice (Willett recently earned a nod from San Antonio Magazine as reader’s choice for Best Instagrammer.) “Now, based on size, it’s the second largest food blog in the city,” he said.
But despite its rapid growth, Willett remained true to his scholarly endeavors at FSOP and made sure school came first. “I am very type A,” he said.
He applied his meticulous nature to excelling in his classes, which earned him spots on the Dean’s List, and to being a leader among his peers as president of the FSOP Student Government Association. Willett knew that his “keep going, keep pushing” approach would be key to helping him achieve his long-held dream of working in medicine.
“I have always wanted to be in the medical field,” he said. As an undergraduate at Baylor University, Willett was drawn to the sciences, specifically chemistry. Before applying to UIW, he consulted with several of his undergraduate chemistry professors before deciding what medical path to pursue.
“I ultimately chose pharmacy,” he said. “I felt that’s where I could be of the most help to society, and I’ve really enjoyed growing in that field.”
Once at UIW, Willett says he felt at home on the small pharmacy campus up on the hill and well supported by students and faculty alike. That support system is by design. At FSOP, each member of the incoming class is assigned to a student group, and each group is provided one professor who serves as their mentor. That mentor acts as a guide and counselor from the first days of student orientation through the last days of the four-year program. Willett has remained close with the students from that group and many members of the FSOP faculty. “Not only do they watch you grow over four years, but you get to know them better,” he said. “It’s like one big family up in that pharmacy school.”
That big UIW FSOP family has encouraged him to continue learning and keep up-to-date in his rapidly advancing industry after graduation and throughout his career. It’s also stressed the importance of building connection. “Through UIW I was able to meet so many people in the field,” he said. “That networking ultimately helped me get a job.”
Since successfully completing his board exams, Willett is now a licensed pharmacist. He’ll soon apply his studies and exacting work ethic on the job as a community pharmacist at a major retailer in San Antonio. Every day he’ll work toward keeping families healthy and fulfill his purpose of making a positive impact on the local community.
SAFood.E also has a role to play in that positive impact. As an influencer, Willett has been able to showcase small, independent eateries to audiences hungry for new culinary adventures and help support the entrepreneurs and families who rely on these businesses.
“I am trying, in multiple ways, to overall improve people’s lives.”
Images courtesy of Anthony Willett.