Ole Miss Pharmacy Holds Inaugural African American Visit Day

School highlights pharmacy profession with 'Melanin and Medications'

UM student pharmacist Alisha Nicks (left) and admissions counselor Noelle Stanley were instrumental in the planning and implementation of the pharmacy school’s African American Visit Day. Submitted photo

JACKSON, Miss. – When the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy held its inaugural African American Visit Day at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, fourth-year student pharmacist Alisha Nicks saw her vision become reality.

Nicks developed “Melanin and Medications,” the theme of the visit day, after seeing the UMMC schools of Medicine and Dentistry host similar events. Nicks met with UM medical student Jamarius Waller to learn about the past events and to brainstorm ways the School of Pharmacy could help Jackson-area high school and college students envision pharmacy as a potential profession.

“‘Melanin and Medications’ definitely fulfilled its purpose of providing a safe, educational and honest environment for prospective students interested in pharmacy to ask current students and pharmacists of color about our experiences in the profession,” Nicks said. “We, as volunteers, provided encouragement to the students to show them that they can be successful in whatever path they choose, whether or not they attend Ole Miss or pursue a career in pharmacy.”

With support from Walgreens, Magnolia State Pharmaceutical Society and the Ole Miss chapter of the Student National Pharmaceutical Association, “Melanin and Medications” included a lunch and panel discussions so that prospective students could engage with student pharmacists and advisers.

Melanin and Medications participants enjoy lunch and panel discussions with pharmacy students and practitioners at the UM Medical Center in Jackson. Submitted photo

The student-led panel discussion titled “What Does Pharmacy Mean to Me?” covered why student pharmacists chose Ole Miss, the coursework required to complete pharmacy school and the experiences of being a professional student of color.

The afternoon panel discussion, “More Than Just Counting Pills,” allowed participants to ask practicing pharmacists about how they make an impact on patients, as well as balance their professional and personal lives.

“I am incredibly proud of our student pharmacists, faculty and staff for initiating and developing this important outreach event,” said David D. Allen, dean of the School of Pharmacy. “Representation in health care is absolutely critical as we continually strive to improve health outcomes.”

Noelle Stanley, the school’s admissions counselor on the Jackson campus, also was instrumental in planning the event.

“I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to help organize this event,” Stanley said. “Alisha, her fellow classmates and the event attendees are evidence of the bright future in store for the Ole Miss pharmacy family.”

Along with their involvement in “Melanin and Medications,” MSPS and SNPhA also created the Jackson Public Schools Preparatory Program last year to educate Jackson students about professional opportunities available in pharmacy and to support the dialogue about minority representation in the health care field.

“It is essential for black students in Mississippi and beyond to be able to see themselves in the experiences of current black professionals,” Nicks said. “I am very proud of the first African American Visit Day, and I look forward to seeing it grow tremendously in the future.”