OXFORD, Miss. – Two University of Mississippi pharmacy students have won presidential scholarships from the National Community Pharmacists Association. Ashley Culbertson and Lily Van, both third-professional-year students, are among only 25 students nationally who received the $2,000 awards.
The NCPA represents the employees of more than 22,000 independent community pharmacies across the country, which dispense nearly half of the nation’s retail prescription medicines. The organization selects presidential scholarship recipients based on academic achievement, leadership qualities and an interest in independent pharmacy.
Culbertson, a native of Leland, said it was an honor to win the scholarship since so many qualified students apply.
“It was very rewarding to see that my hard work is paying off,” she said.
Alicia Bouldin, associate dean for outcomes assessment and learning advancement at the school of pharmacy, recommended Culbertson for the scholarship.
“I have noted that the most promising student leaders seem to have in common several desirable characteristics – among them intellectual curiosity, enthusiastic involvement and a generally positive perspective,” Bouldin said. “I have had the opportunity to observe in Ashley all three of these traits.”
Culbertson’s career goals include working in a community pharmacy to one day manage or own an independent store.
“I enjoy the front lines of assisting patients with a new prescription or even finding the correct over-the-counter product,” Culbertson said.
Van, a native of Honolulu, Hawaii, said she was “ecstatic,” when she learned she won the scholarship.
“To be recognized for your achievements is something that is very touching and rewarding from a student perspective, and it helps to push me further in my career,” Van said.
Van serves on NCPA’s national Student Leadership Council. She hopes to work as a clinical pharmacist in a community setting and eventually become a director of clinical services in a community for underserved populations.
Donna Strum, chair of the pharmacy administration department, wrote a letter of recommendation for Van’s scholarship application.
“Lily is excited about the opportunities for pharmacists in the community setting and has a passion for advancing pharmacy practice,” Strum said. “She shares her positive experience with independent pharmacy with the other students and testifies how community pharmacists can provide services and make a positive difference in patient lives.”
Both Van and Culbertson expressed gratitude for the opportunity to further their education and their careers.
“I am extremely thankful to be a recipient this year because not only does it help to advance my education, but it has also afforded me great opportunities to network with pharmacy leaders from across the U.S.,” Van said. “Being part of NCPA has really opened my eyes to the world of independent pharmacy and how integral community pharmacists are in the patient care process.”