The College of Pharmacy has a long history of engaging alumni in preparing students to be the best and brightest leaders in the pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences professions. The launch of the College of Pharmacy’s Alumni Ambassador Program provides a new opportunity for alumni to channel their enthusiasm and passion for UGA by impacting students, prospective students, and college programs. This initiative epitomizes the College’s strategic plan to empower students to realize their educational goals and personal potential.
In recent months, there have been outstanding examples of alumni serving as ambassadors in various ways. As articulation agreements and open houses were conducted with University System of Georgia colleges, such as Georgia Southern, Albany State, and Armstrong State, alumni joined in to promote pharmacy as a career choice to prospective students and discuss their experiences at UGA Pharmacy and beyond.
How does the Alumni Ambassador program impact students? This question is best answered by one of these future pharmacists. Remarked Noah Gurr, a third-year student from Cumming, Ga., who is Chair of the Dean’s Student Advisory Council and President of the National Community Pharmacists Association and the Christian Pharmacists Fellowship International, “Alumni involvement is always a critical opportunity for students to have a successful pharmacist to look up to and even receive mentorship. So much of pharmacy is about building a network of people who graduated before you, classmates who you journey in school with, and prospective students who will follow you. I know personally it has opened doors for me professionally that I may not have been aware of if not for the alumni with whom I was able to build a relationship.”
Alumni will attest that the program is mutually beneficial. Ben Ross (PharmD ’08), said, “I’m always excited when I have the opportunity to encourage and talk with younger students about the University of Georgia College of Pharmacy.” Ross owns Forest Heights Pharmacy in Statesboro and Ross Drug in Sylvania, and he is a partner in Coastal Drug in Midway, Crawford & Breazeale Drug in Lincolnton, Clark Drug in Waynesboro, Georgetown Drug Company in Savannah, and Thompson Drug Company in Thompson.
He continued, “I have been amazed at the work the current faculty and staff are doing to promote and reach students across the state at different college campuses. It’s an honor to be able to tell my story about how much the College of Pharmacy has done for me both personally and professionally. I love seeing the excitement and energy that students have for my profession and the college that has given so much to me.”
Patrick Chancy (PharmD ’17), of Chancy Drugs in South Georgia, echoed Ben’s remarks. “Alumni involvement is critical to the future of our profession. We are able to provide students a glimpse at what the ‘real world’ looks like and what opportunities are actually out there. Current students need to be shown potential opportunities. It is just as important to show this to potential pharmacy students as well. Alumni from all walks of the profession need to be present to paint the picture of how vast pharmacy is. The potential is unending, and it is up to alumni to help paint that picture.”
Edie Smith (BSHE ’84, BSPH ’87), President of LES Investments, which offers Medication and Nutrition Therapy Management in South Georgia, took part in the Georgia Southern articulation agreement/recruitment event. She commented, “Being involved at the College of Pharmacy has enriched my life professionally and personally. I love connecting and reconnecting with our community of PharmDawgs. I learn something each time I engage. It thrills me to be able to give back to the College.”
Tanzir Mortuza (PhD ’18), focused his efforts on returning to campus and speaking to students at the 2022 Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences Research Day held in August. The Senior Manager of Regulatory Affairs at Gilead Sciences in New York also was spotlighted on the College of Pharmacy’s 60 at 60 program last year, honoring the 60th anniversary of desegregation at the University of Georgia and those who advocate for a more equitable and inclusive society.
Fellow PhD grad Jade Spell (PhD ’98), Director of Medical Affairs Strategy for Myovant Sciences in Atlanta, Ga., touts the importance of being involved through professional meetings, networking, and career development opportunities. “While graduate school prepares the mind of a student to undertake independent research, much of the actual learning and career development occurs in the ‘real world’. One of the real-world aspects that research professionals should embrace is participation in professional medical/pharmaceutical meetings. This is where you will not only stay abreast of scientific advancements in your chosen field, but also work to build and chart your overall career path. I cannot think of a better way to do that than by networking actively at professional meetings. These relationships will serve as critical supports in your professional journey, especially when you are looking for new career opportunities and mentors. I urge all new students and alumni to avail themselves of these opportunities, as well as commit to leadership roles with professional societies when opportunities arise in order to give back to the newer generation of scientists.”
Alumni seeking to engage with students, as well as support the College and profession are encouraged to join the Alumni Ambassador Program. Opportunities include:
- Speak to student organizations and classes
- Help recruit new students
- Support career development
- Participate in College of Pharmacy events
- Serve as social media champion for the College
“Our alumni are fiercely loyal and want to find ways to stay connected and support the College,” said Dean Kelly Smith (BSPH ’92, PharmD ’93). “The Alumni Ambassador Program is the perfect scenario for those who seek to strengthen their relationship with the College and offer their time, talents, and expertise to our students. The opportunities are endless.”
Contact Kim Hamby, Director of Alumni Relations, to become involved as an Alumni Ambassador.