Walgreens Helps UM Faculty Open Students’ Eyes to Pharmacy Profession, Increase Diversity

… Murrah and Bailey Magnet high schools participate in program

Two Jackson high school students participate in a laboratory exercise under the direction of Kris Harrell, director of professional experience programs and associate professor of pharmacy practice in the UM School of Pharmacy.

With funding from Walgreens, the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy is continuing an initiative that is dramatically increasing diversity among its student body.

The funds enable the school to provide students at Jackson’s Murrah High School and Bailey Magnet High School with opportunities to learn about the pharmacy profession and to allocate a scholarship to one of those students. This is the third consecutive year that Walgreens has provided support for the program.

“It’s of tremendous value to have the opportunity to enhance diversity in our profession within the state,” said Chris McLaurin, pharmacy supervisor for Walgreens. “It’s wonderful to have local students interested in our profession and to remain in-state. It benefits everyone.”

A portion of the gift is also allocated to a scholarship. Its inaugural recipient is Brittany Cavett of Jackson. Cavett, who participated in the program at Murrah, is enrolled in the pharmacy school’s early entry program and the UM Sally McDonnell. Barksdale Honors College.

Since the diversity initiative’s inception, the pharmacy school’s minority enrollment in regular and early entry classes has nearly doubled, rising from 16 students in 2009 to 31 in 2011.

“The program provides an excellent opportunity for us to expose talented students at our partner schools to the breadth of career opportunities within the profession and make receiving a degree in pharmacy a preferred academic goal,” said Marvin C. Wilson, associate dean for academic and student affairs. “The Walgreens initiative, as well as others, has resulted in a dramatic increase in the diversity of the applicant pool for our professional program.”

Walgreens Helps UM Faculty Open Students' Eyes to Pharmacy Profession, Increase Diversity

Brittany Cavett of Jackson (center) poses with (l-r) Murrah High science teachers Tommy Nalls and Greg Powell and UM pharmacy school officials Barbara Wells, Marvin Wilson and Kris Harrell after being offered a scholarship made possible by Walgreens.

School faculty members work with advisers at the high schools to coordinate pharmacy clubs. Conducted by pharmacy students and faculty, club activities include an overview of pharmacy career options and a compounding exercise.

The highlight of the year is a field trip to the pharmacy school in Oxford, where the students sit in on a pharmacy class and take part in a laboratory exercise.

“This is a great experience for the school and students,” said coordinator Lauren S. Bloodworth, clinical assistant professor of pharmacy practice. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to advocate for our profession. It’s gratifying to see the students’ eyes opened to this career path.”

For more information, visit the UM School of Pharmacy or call 662-915-7265.