Kisha Christian Personifies Mentorship, Altruism for Her Alma Mater
Kisha Christian (PharmD ’04) is no ordinary alumna. Her passion for community service, a commitment to her chosen profession, and an eagerness to mentor women and underrepresented populations pursuing a pharmacy education make her a stellar standout. And she’s got the hardware to prove it.
This past July, Kisha, who is the owner of Neighborhood Pharmacy in Frederiksted, Virgin Islands, was awarded the annual Ken Wurster Community Leadership Award presented by Cardinal Health, a global manufacturer and distributor of pharmaceuticals and laboratory products, and a provider of performance and data solutions for healthcare facilities. The first nominee and award recipient from the US Virgin Islands, Kisha received a $10,000 gift from Cardinal to be presented to a pharmacy school or association of her choice. Kisha faithfully chose UGA’s College of Pharmacy – and as is her altruistic nature, she took it a step further.
Combining the Cardinal gift of $10k, the successful community pharmacy entrepreneur added $15,000 of her personal funds to endow a $25,000 scholarship to College of Pharmacy. Verbiage describing the endowment reads, “The Dr. Kisha Christian Scholarship Fund provides need-based scholarship support for a PharmD student(s) who is interested in community pharmacy and is active in their community. Recipients shall meet one or more of the following criteria: exhibit a dedication to racial equality, demonstrate an interest in serving underrepresented minority or ethnic groups, and/or demonstrate achievement and determination in the face of challenging social, economic, educational, cultural, or other life circumstances. Recipients also should demonstrate a commitment to furthering the advancement of women in the field of Pharmacy.
Kisha’s investment in future PharmDawgs represents the College’s strategic commitment to investing in its people – current, past, and future. This scholarship will be instrumental to the success of its future recipients.
Kisha recently offered a retrospective of her journey to becoming a leader in the pharmacy profession and why she is committed to serving others. Read on to learn her story and discover her passion for UGA.
For further information about The Dr. Kisha Christian Scholarship Fund, contact Gordon Thomas, Major Gifts Officer in the College of Pharmacy’s Office of Development and Alumni Relations.
Where are you from originally?
St. Croix, US Virgin Islands
Why did you decide you wanted to be a pharmacist?
I always wanted to be a pharmacist. As a child, when playing house with my Barbie Dolls, when anyone got sick, they would bring them to me and I would give them something to make them feel better. At some point that changed, and I wanted to be an OB/GYN. I worked one summer in the neonatal unit of the hospital and that quickly changed my mind back to being a pharmacist.
Did you have a mentor growing up that helped lead you on this career path?
My cousin’s dad owned a pharmacy, and we talked a lot when I was making my decision to go to pharmacy school. He also wrote my recommendation letter for UGA.
Prior to pharmacy school, did you have any direct or indirect experience in the field?
I worked two separate summers – one in a retail pharmacy and one summer in hospital.
UGA College of Pharmacy Experience
Why did you choose to attend UGA?
I was living in Lawrenceville, GA at the time and could not afford a private school. UGA was close to where I lived. I had a young daughter at the time, so relocating to another state was not an option.
Were you involved in any organizations?
Unfortunately, I was not involved in much extracurricular activities, as I had a three-year-old when I started Pharmacy school and worked full time. I was very focused on successfully completing what I had started.
What classes or programs engaged you?
One class in particular had students build a robot that would dispense medications. I found this class to be very forward thinking and innovative.
Who were your mentors while you were at UGA and the College of Pharmacy?
Professionally, my mentors while in pharmacy school were the pharmacists who I worked with at Target and Kaiser. Personally, my biggest motivation was my daughter. I needed to do this for her and make her proud while making a living.
Describe your career path. What did you do after graduation?
- Worked for Target and Kaiser throughout pharmacy school
- Hired by Target as a Pharmacist
- Promoted to Pharmacy Manager a few months later
- Turned down multiple times for various leadership roles, while positions were given to people I was expected to train.
- Returned home to St. Croix in Summer 2011
- Worked at two local Pharmacies
- Opened my own business, Neighborhood Pharmacy, in 2015
What led you to own your own Pharmacy – and what led you back to St. Croix?
I worked for two pharmacies that didn’t see my vision and seemed to be only worried about numbers and profit. All the ideas I had were shot down.
Describe the life of an entrepreneur. What are the rewarding aspects, and what are the challenges?
The life of an entrepreneur is both a challenge and an opportunity. Of the two, which outnumbers which is solely dependent on one’s outlook. As an entrepreneur, you must constantly assess and re-imagine yourself, your brand, and your offerings. You must be responsible, responsive, and a resilient community partner. As an employer, you must be inclusive and first rate. I allow my team to lead – that’s why I hire them. I encourage and expect them to own their work. My staff is independent and equally important in the community. We conduct various monthly team building events, and offer budgeting, financial, and housing classes for them. We also provide massages for the staff!
What accolades and honors have you received?
- Citizenship awards for volunteer service in Social Circle, GA
- Pharmacist of the Year and Employee of the Year from the Target Corp
- Small Business of the Year by The Chamber of Commerce.
- This past July, Neighborhood Pharmacy was awarded the annual Ken Wurster Community Leadership Award presented by Cardinal Health, the first nominee and award recipient from the US Virgin Islands. The award recognizes independent pharmacists for outstanding contributions to their community. Neighborhood Pharmacy was lauded for its innovation, collaboration, and collaboration with various community partners, charities, and government agencies in order to make a positive social impact on the residents of St. Croix and the wider US Virgin Islands community.
A Giving Spirit
Why did you choose to reengage with the College of Pharmacy?
The University of Georgia College of Pharmacy provided me a fresh start and helped me find my WHY in life. It gave me passion and purpose. Engaging with the College is just a way to give back.
What outcome are you hoping through your benevolence?
I would like this fund to provide financial support to a minority student that has a passion for service and community involvement.
Describe your philosophy on mentorship and how you apply it to your relationship with CoP.
Mentorship is the cornerstone of our community. It ensures continuity in various aspects of our community. I have made a pledge to myself to be a responsible, responsive, and resilient community partner. My involvement with the University of Georgia College of Pharmacy allows me to accomplish this.
Why is this work so important – and important to you?
It’s important because it assures that the work of pharmacists continues in our community. It allows me to be a part of making my community better.
Extracurricular or outside interests and hobbies?
Traveling, diving, reading, and giving back to my community.
For more information about The Dr. Kisha Christian Scholarship Fund, contact Gordon Thomas, Major Gifts Officer in the College of Pharmacy’s Office of Development and Alumni Relations.