These 2 pharmacy students purchased 6,240 vaccines to help protect children from preventable diseases

Pharmacy students are the future of the profession. And for some pharmacy students, that future is now. That’s why I have dedicated a blog series, Student Sit-down, to showcase pharmacy student-led projects that are improving the pharmacy profession, the healthcare system, and more!

Vaccines protect children against serious diseases and play an important role in ridding the world of preventable diseases such as polio and tetanus. Immunization saves 2-3 million lives each year. Yet an estimated one in five of the world’s children still don’t have access to life-saving immunizations.

UNICEF is the largest global purchaser of vaccines, providing 45% of the world’s children with life-saving vaccinations, saving around 3 million lives every year.

UNICEF’s goal is to rid the world of preventable diseases such as polio and tetanus. For instance, since 2000 2.5 billion children have been vaccinated and the number of polio cases has fallen by more than 99 percent, dropping to just 22 cases in 2017.

I sat down with Michelle and Amy to talk about their Unlash a Life fundraiser in support of UNICEF Canada. They just reached their goal of raising $2000, through which they purchased a total of 6,240 vaccines, including 2,040 tetanus vaccines, 2,160 polio vaccines and 2,040 measles vaccines!

Let’s hear more about Unlash a Life!

To start off, give us a brief introduction to yourselves.

Michelle Ly, co-founder of Unlash a Life

My name is Michelle Ly, PharmD Candidate 2020, and I came from a background in Biological Sciences and Business Management. My passion lies in healthcare and business innovation. I strive to create meaningful impact wherever I go.

Amy Kwan, co-founder of Unlash a Life

My name is Amy Kwan, PharmD Candidate 2020. I studied sciences for 2 years before making the leap to pursue pharmacy. I hope to combine my passions for design, creativity, and healthcare to create fun ways to help others!

Read more Student-Sit Down Series:
How these 2 pharmacy students are improving interprofessional collaboration

Congratulations on reaching your goal of raising $2000 for vaccinations. How do you feel?

Thank you so much for sharing our story on this platform! Since hitting our $2,000 goal, it’s been a roller coaster of emotions and an eye opening experience overall! Unlash a Life was created off our passion for health advocacy and wanting to make a difference. It’s been extremely moving seeing how many people share the same vision to make an impact in the world. This was all made possible by everyone who liked, shared, followed, donated, and/or purchased in support of the campaign and we honestly could not thank you enough.

So what is Unlash a Life?

Unlash a Life is a fundraising campaign targeted towards vaccines and raising awareness in collaboration with UNICEF. Through direct donations or proceeds from the lashes manufactured for this campaign, we raise funds to purchase vaccines like polio, tetanus and measles for those without access to these life-saving resources.

What inspired you to start Unlash a Life?

Through all our courses, we have learned time and time again how the invention of vaccines has changed the game in healthcare. Having said that, it is also a sad reality that many areas of the world still don’t have access to basic life-saving vaccines.

Vaccines save the lives of 2-3 million children per year

After completing an elective course in vaccines, that basically pushed us over the fence to take action. With our goal of raising $2000, that is enough to purchase 7818 polio vaccines, 13495 tetanus vaccines or 4000 measles, or a combination of each. With everyone’s efforts, we would be able to positively impact a whole community of people!

How did you get to working with each other?

Aside from being friends since the first day of the program, our common interest in fashion, makeup and the desire to make a positive impact in others’ lives brought us together to bring this project to life.

Amy Kwan and Michelle Ly

From the manufacturing process of the lashes, to creating websites, to getting our first donations, we supported each other by pooling together our different strengths to make a great tag-team.

What are your thoughts on anti-vaxxers and the recent outbreaks of vaccinable diseases in BC?

We think that vaccines play an important role in preventing diseases not only for the individual but also for everyone else exposed around that individual. There’s been misconceptions in the past about the side effects of vaccines and we think that everyone should seriously consider the risks and benefits of choosing not to vaccinate. Vaccinating not only protects the individual, but it also plays a role in eliminating diseases as a whole. A prime example of this is the eradication of polio in North America. This was only possible due to the efforts of getting almost everyone vaccinated.

Tell me about your lashes.

Our lashes are 100% mink hair and are absolutely cruelty free. With proper care, they can be re-used up to 25 times. Throughout the entire design and manufacturing process, we made sure to focus on the quality of the lashes.

Velour Dimension lashes

Where did the interest in creating your own lashes come from?

Getting glammed up is fun! And helping out a good cause can be as well. We wanted to create a fundraiser where you can have fun, treat yourself, and save lives all at the same time!

Who came up with the campaign title “Unlash a Life?”

We were in the computer room of the pharmacy building meeting up about this campaign when we threw names around. After brainstorming and eliminating a bunch of names, we decided to go with “Unlash a Life” as it was a nice play on words (Unlash ~ Unleash). Everyone should have the freedom to live the life they deserve. With every lash sold, the money goes towards allowing a life to be lived to its full potential.

Are you still accepting donations?

Yes – you can still donate via our website on!

Unlash a Life Fundraiser for UNICEF Canada

Thanks for speaking with me Michelle and Amy!

Thank you so much for the support and the opportunity to share our story, Miriam!

If you’re a pharmacy student with a project or story you’d like to share, drop me an email and I’d love to get in touch with you!

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