PharmDawg Students Meet Benefactor Arthur Blank

It’s not often that you meet a famous person with such impressive titles as American entrepreneur, professional athletic team owner, and generous philanthropist. However, when this renown individual turns out to be the benefactor who funded a portion of your college education, the introduction becomes much more meaningful.

Such was the case earlier this year when three College of Pharmacy students met Arthur Blank, the co-founder of the home improvement store, Home Depot, and the owner of the National Football League’s Atlanta Falcons and the Major Soccer League’s Atlanta United. With his charitable giving exceeding $800 million since he established his foundation in 1995, the College of Pharmacy has been fortunate to be a recipient of his generosity.

In 2017, the Molly Blank Fund, a division of the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, contributed $1 million dollars to the College to establish The Molly & Max Blank Student Enrichment Endowment. Since its creation, this generous funding has impacted 65 pharmacy students with significant scholarships that help alleviate financial burdens that may impede students from entering school or completing their studies. In turn, these students can give back to society when they graduate by using their acquired knowledge to serve the health care needs of others in their communities.

So, when the University of Georgia Terry College of Business hosted Blank for their Terry Leadership Speaker Series earlier this year, Lee Snelling, the CoP’s Development and Alumni Relations Senior Director, invited students who are recipients of the Molly & Max Blank Scholarship to hear the philanthropist share the lessons he’s learned from a life of innovation and service. It proved an exciting day for Valery Cepeda, a rising P3 PharmD student from Jefferson, Ga.; Rhea Lawrence, a BS in Pharmaceutical Sciences student from Lawrenceville, Ga.; and Demetris McCray, a rising P2 from Albany, Ga.

Cepeda described how the Blank scholarship has an impact. “While scholarships fund educational expenses, such as tuition and fees, I believe they also offer us students the encouragement, purpose, and drive to continue to pursue and achieve our dreams and goals.” 

The endowment honors the legacy of Blank’s mother, Molly Blank. “My brother Michael and I are pleased to be able to honor our mother’s legacy through this gift to the UGA Pharmacy School,” he said. “It is very appropriate that this endowment is named for our father and mother, as they were both deeply engaged in the pharmacy business. Our parents would have been gratified to support students who face financial challenges as they endeavor to be pharmacists.” 

Lawrence articulated why pursuing a degree at the College is meaningful to her. “I selected pharmacy as my degree due to the inspiration of my father and his experience in the pharmaceutical industry. Additionally, I really wanted to study a subject that explored medicine in a patient-centered way and tied it together with research. I feel that pharmacy encompasses all of this and more.”

Describing the opportunity to meet Blank, Lawrence added, “Meeting Mr. Arthur Blank was an incredible experience! Learning about the Blank family legacy and their commitment to pharmacy was both inspiring and motivating. It was an honor to be chosen to receive this scholarship.”  

Commented Snelling, “Meeting the donors who establish scholarships is a significant experience for our students. It is an opportunity we strive to deliver for many of these deserving students. Creating these moments brings home the impact of philanthropy for both the donor and the student. 

Cepeda noted, “Talking with Mr. Blank in person was so rewarding. Donors are such generous and caring people who support the educational endeavors of students. Being able to get to know him and thank him in person was valuable to me.” 

The College of Pharmacy is grateful to the Terry College of Business for providing this opportunity for our CoP students.