Four Pharmacy Students Named Taylor Medalists

First professional year cohort exceeds general student population for academic award

The 2023 Taylor Medal honorees from the School of Pharmacy are (from left) Camille Culp, Erin Lomenick, Maria Sallee and Tuong Tran.

OXFORD, Miss. – Four first-year students in the professional program at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy earned Marcus Elvis Taylor Memorial Medals, the university’s highest academic award, this spring.

Fewer than 1% of all Ole Miss students earn the award annually, and honorees must have a 3.9 GPA or higher. This year, some 3.5% of eligible pharmacy students were awarded Taylor Medals.

“Having four Taylor Medals affirms the School of Pharmacy has the best and brightest students, who are academically strong and leaders on campus,” said Donna Sue West Strum, the school’s dean.

This year’s winners include pharmacy students Camille Culp, of Marianna, Arkansas; Erin Lomenick, of Potts Camp; Maria Sallee, of Collierville, Tennessee; and Tuong Tran, of D’Iberville. All four students were part of the school’s early-entry program, guaranteeing admission to the professional program and providing early access to all the school’s resources and organizations.

The honorees credit the ability to access pharmacy program resources early and the school’s culture for much of their success.

“We are so proud of our early entry pharmacy program, as it has become a premier program recruiting top students from across the country,” Strum said. “It is not surprising four students from this cohort received Taylor Medals.”

Camille Culp

Culp was drawn to Ole Miss by the proximity to home, and the pharmacy school’s early-entry program sealed the deal.

Once on campus, Culp joined Global Brigades, a health missionary nonprofit. She served as an officer and made trips to Guatemala, Honduras and Panama, working alongside health care professionals and learning about other health care systems.

As a student wellness ambassador, she gave emotional and mental support to peers. She also was elected the group’s treasurer and two-year president. Culp is active in American Pharmacists Association – Academy of Student Pharmacists, working at health fairs to promote and provide immunizations, and take blood sugar. She attended the APhA national meeting in Phoenix in March and is president-elect of the university’s APhA-ASP chapter for 2023-24.

“The School of Pharmacy has been instrumental in helping me find community,” she said. “It’s where my friends are, and everyone has been so helpful. I’m grateful for the community I found here.”

Erin Lomenick

Lomenick knew she wanted a science or health care career, but faced one large obstacle.

“The human body grossed me out,” she said.

Fortunately, she had a solid role model in her dad, Bob, who owns and operates community pharmacies in Holly Springs and Oxford.

Lomenick is involved in multiple campus organizations. In the fall, she becomes president-elect of Kappa Epsilon, a pharmacy fraternity and is active in the Mortar Board and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies.

She is excited to move on to the hands-on learning phase and appreciates the opportunities and support from the School of Pharmacy to date.

“This is a great community,” Lomenick said. “We have a great support system and that is a big part of why I’m successful.”

Maria Sallee

Sallee grew up surrounded by family in the health care field – her dad is a radiologist, her grandfather was an ER doctor and her great-uncle is a pharmacist.

At Ole Miss, she served as a recitation leader for a virtual organic chemistry class as a junior and was a study group leader for microbiology in the fall of 2022. She has volunteered at Grove Grocery and is active in the Baptist Student Union.

Sallee’s summer working as a pharmacy technician inspired her honors thesis after she saw patients often do not understand the pharmacist’s role in their care.

She also found a potential career direction. Sallee learned that tracking pediatric patients’ weights over time, which is key to proper dosing, is inconsistent among pharmacies. This is leading to considering quality improvement or managed care pharmacy to drive improved patient interactions, understanding and outcomes.

“It’s nice to be recognized for hard work, it’s been worth all the work,” she said. “I really value all the relationships that made it possible.”

Tuong Tran

Tran, a first-generation college student who was unsure of a career direction, is keeping his options open as far as a practice specialty to pursue and anticipates finding his home in upcoming rotations.

“During our first rotation, my preceptor talked about how I might enjoy the hospital setting because of my personality,” he said. “We have an upcoming rotation in an institutional setting, and I’m looking forward to exploring different practices.”

Tran leans into musical composition in his free time. In high school, he played marimba, xylophone and glockenspiel. He focuses on composing using a variety of instruments, with his most recent work featuring what Tran describes as a “Dungeons and Dragons vibe.”

“Pharmacy school has taken over life, but music is my release,” he said.

Tran recognizes the hallmark community culture of the pharmacy school and said he is grateful for it.

“I’m thankful for the people who gave me their time,” he said. “At one point, I struggled with my mental health, so I’m appreciative of the people – my peers and mentors – who got me back on track.”