Walgreens Partners with School of Pharmacy to Promote Diversity Initiative

Miss. – The UM School of Pharmacy is partnering with Walgreens as part
of a new initiative to increase diversity among pharmacy students.

the nation’s largest drugstore chain, has donated $10,000 a year to 111
pharmacy schools around the country, including the UM School of
Pharmacy. This donation is to fund a nationwide initiative to increase
the number of minority students who enroll in pharmacy schools.

initiative is an important way to give back to the community, said
Kimsey Cooper, district pharmacy supervisor for Walgreens and an alumna
of the UM pharmacy school.

“Walgreens has taken an active role
in promoting the importance of a pharmacist’s role within our local
communities,” Cooper said. “I emphatically believe those pharmacists
are the face that most patients come to first for patient care. This
initiative, in my opinion, is a wonderful opportunity to give back to
the local communities as well as make a positive impact on our society.”

Minority students make up only 10 percent of pharmacy students on average, said Marvin Wilson, associate dean for academic and student affairs for the School of Pharmacy. Wilson is spearheading the diversity initiative locally.

“We believe that the only way to really have a long-term effect with this initiative will be to engage potential pharmacy school applicants while they’re still in high school,” Wilson said. “We want to make them more aware of the tremendous opportunities that are available within the pharmacy profession, then cultivate that and nurture them through a process that hopefully will result in them being highly competitive applicants for our professional degree program.”

UM School of pharmacy faculty from both the Oxford and UM Medical Center campuses will be working together with Wilson on this initiative. The first step in the initiative is to target three schools in the Jackson area that historically have large black student populations, and work with science teachers from these schools this summer. These teachers will ultimately select prospective students to work with pharmacy faculty during the following summer.

“The first part of the strategy is to enhance students’ career awareness,” Wilson said. “So many minority students who may have an interest in science or biology only think of medicine because they don’t know much about pharmacy.”

The program’s goal is not to just increase minority applications, but to make minority students more competitive when they do apply. “Our challenge is to recruit the most qualified applicant,” Wilson said.

This is not the first time that Walgreens has worked with the pharmacy school. In 2008, Walgreens gave $50,000 to help with costs for a new pharmacy building on the UM Medical Center campus in Jackson.

“To be personally associated with a company that recognizes that we have, across our nation, an increasingly diverse patient base and culture and that our profession should try to attract more talented, compassionate people within each community is wonderful,” Cooper said.

To learn more about pharmacy education and research at UM, go to http://www.pharmacy.olemiss.edu .