Tierra Jackson Soars to National Presidency

A quick glance at her resumé and you may think that Tierra Jackson has been working professionally for years. Her achievements, leadership roles, recognitions, and strategic endeavors excel beyond what most people accomplish in an entire career. 

Tierra’s accomplishments demonstrate the type of success the College of Pharmacy hopes for in all its students.

There is another entry this fourth-year 2023 PharmD candidate from Statesboro, Ga. just added to her resume – President of a major national student organization that boasts a membership of more than 5000, with 120-plus affiliated chapters.

Tierra delivers her inaugural address at the 2022 NPhA/SNPhA annual convention

Inaugurated at the annual convention of the Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA) held this past August in Atlanta, Tierra already is hard at work with plans to move the organization forward. As President, she is responsible for choosing and promoting the organization’s yearly theme, which she selected to be “Flip the S.C.R.I.P.T. in 2022-23.” The acronym stands for “Students Creating, Reimagining, and Innovating Pharmacy Together.”

“Flip the S.C.R.I.P.T. challenges and encourages my fellow students and I to create new opportunities for ourselves and the next generation of pharmacists; reimagine what diversity in healthcare should be; and innovate ways to support our communities,” said Tierra.

SNPhA is an educational service association of pharmacy students who are concerned about the profession of pharmacy, healthcare issues, and the poor minority representation in these areas. The purpose of SNPhA is to plan, organize, coordinate, and execute programs geared toward the improvement of the health, educational, and social environment of minority communities.

Though she is front and center on the national stage, Tierra has made an indelible mark at UGA and the College of Pharmacy as well. She came to Athens in 2014 to pursue her Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Science, and during her undergraduate career, she served as President of the Pre-Pharmacy Society, Vice President and Service Coordinator of the NAACP, and Clinic Manager at Mercy Health Clinic. Entering pharmacy school in 2019, Tierra used her passion for underserved communities and diverse leadership experiences to advocate on many levels. She is a co-founder and vice president of the Black Student Pharmacists Organization (BSPO), the program coordinator for the American Pharmacists Association – Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP), a College of Pharmacy student ambassador, and a spring 2021 inductee of Phi Lambda Sigma (PLS). In addition, she has collected outstanding honors, including the UGA Black Faculty and Staff Organization’s Professional Founders Award and the inaugural UGA First Award for a Professional Student, which recognizes an outstanding first generation college attendee.

“Tierra is a bright, ambitious, determined, articulate, and passionate student. Best of all, she has a huge heart for others,” said Dr. Vivia Hill-Silcott, Director of Diversity Programs and Academic Support and the College’s faculty advisor for SNPhA. “She is not just an aspiring leader; she is a leader.  I can’t wait to see where she will go next.”

Tierra plans to pursue a career in Health-System Pharmacy Administration and Leadership (HSPAL) so that she can improve health outcomes for patients of color on a global scale. 

In a Q&A interview, Tierra shared her journey to a national presidency and how the College of Pharmacy guided her along the way.  Click here to read her compelling message.  

As President of SNPhA, what will be your roles and responsibilities?  

As President of the Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA), I have the pleasure of supporting more than 5000 student members and 120+ chapters as they find ways to continue meeting the needs of underserved communities, while offering support to minority student professionals. My role is extremely dynamic and constantly evolving. My external responsibilities include fostering partnerships with other organizations and companies to provide students with financial and educational resources as they pursue their PharmD. The board and I work together to coordinate competitions, conferences, showcases, mentorship programs, and more! My internal responsibilities are to support local chapters as they work to build membership and conduct community service experiences. Together, my board and I brainstorm challenges for our members to engage in every month. These challenges are designed to educate students about the health disparities that patients face across a broad range of disease states. Our hope is that through these challenges, we can initiate important conversations that will positively impact minority patients. 

This role also has exposed me to several new avenues that I never imagined, such as traveling, planning conferences, coding websites, and advocating for students on a large scale.

As president, what are some of your goals for this national organization?

My presidential theme for this year is “Flip the S.C.R.I.P.T.” or Students Creating, Reimagining, and Innovation Pharmacy Together. My goal is to strengthen the confidence of SNPhA’s passionate membership by equipping them with resources and motivating them to create the change we all want to see in our communities. 

This generation of pharmacy students is so creative and innovative! We have the motivation to push our professional scope and expand pharmacy practice beyond our imagination. More importantly, we have the capability to follow through with these initiatives. I hope we can motivate students to establish a more inclusive, equitable, and diverse healthcare system for ALL.

How did it feel when you were chosen?

When I was announced as the President-Elect in 2021, I was speechless! I was shocked that students across the nation trusted me with such a huge responsibility. I’m honestly still in disbelief a whole year later! The campaign process definitely took me out of my comfort zone, but it helped me build confidence in myself and my ideas. Everyday, I try my hardest to be a light and a great resource for all pharmacy students.  

What does this position mean to you?

This position means so much to me. It gives me the opportunity to create and perfect opportunities for students that I wish I had earlier in my pharmacy school journey. Beyond what I’m able to do for others, I appreciate the way this position has helped me expand my network. I get to collaborate with like-minded students and pharmacists who will eventually be my peers and colleagues. I’ve established so many valuable relationships and learned so many valuable lessons from my role as national president. 

What inspires you to be a leader?

As a student who comes from an underserved community, I’m familiar with a lot of health disparities and challenges that minorities face. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for passionate and driven leaders supporting me along the way. It’s my hope that I can do that for others. I’m inspired by the future generation of students to come. 

My goal in life is to leave every space better than I found it. I hope that I can do this for UGA, the College of Pharmacy, SNPhA, and our profession!

Who have been your mentors along your journey?

I’ve had so many mentors pour into me during pharmacy school. They’ve helped me build a sense of confidence with their overwhelming support. While there are several faculty and staff who have mentored me along the way, the two specific faculty who have been incredible mentors are Dr. Brian Seagraves and Dr. Michelle McElhannon. I met Dr. Seagraves as an undergrad student at Mercy Health Center. He served as a research advisor while I participated in his Hepatitis C Clinics, and our relationship only grew stronger after I started pharmacy school. He has always been there with kind words, motivation, and critical feedback. Dr. McElhannon has been equally supportive! I’ve worked on a research project with her during the last couple of years. She’s been so encouraging and never fails to tell me how proud she is of my accomplishments. I can’t imagine my pharmacy  journey without them in my corner.

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