New Pharmacy Scholarships for 2023 Highlight Perseverance, Service

By Benjamin Waldrum

2021 COP Convocation 1

The College of Pharmacy held virtual ceremonies during the pandemic, with many students receiving their hoods from friends and family at home.Evan Lewis

Dean Cindy Stowe, Pharm.D., announced in April the creation of three new scholarships: the Class of 2013 Endowed Scholarship, the Class of 2020 Practice Resilience Award and the Class of 2021 Serving the Community Award.

“These scholarships recognize these students and young pharmacists as they answered the call during the pandemic,” Stowe said. “The Class of 2020 graduated right after the pandemic started, and entered a profession and practice setting quite different than they had imagined. The Class of 2021 completed much of their didactic education during the pandemic. We want to send a big shout-out to these students and new practitioners for making a difference.”

Donations began for the Class of 2013 scholarship while the students were still in school. Scholarships for the Class of 2020 and 2021, who began their pharmacy education in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, were formed from donations by the College of Pharmacy Dean’s Society and the Chancellor’s Circle, which is UAMS’ premier giving society.

Generous donors make these scholarship awards possible, helping pharmacy students continue their education and provide more of a financial cushion during their time in school.

Class of 2013 Endowed Scholarship

Ten years since graduation, members of the Class of 2013 are firmly entrenched in their pharmacy careers. It seemed like a good time to create a scholarship to help students as they were once helped, said Chase Amyx, Pharm.D., and Mandi Hoelzeman Roller, Pharm.D. Amyx was class president, and Roller was class vice president.

“Our class wanted to provide an ongoing gift of support to future students in lieu of a physical gift that would have shorter longevity,” Amyx said.

The class also wanted to honor Josh Neal, a beloved classmate who died in 2010.

“We started the scholarship in his honor,” Roller said. “Most of our classmates had a really good relationship with each other, so starting a scholarship fund in his name was an easy decision.”

“The idea was to remember the Class of 2013 and our journey through pharmacy education,” Amyx added. “We were very optimistic during our time in school and found upon graduation that there would be many unexpected challenges. I am very proud that many of my peers have overcome significant challenges in their careers and are thriving.”

“Anything that can help a student start off their career with less debt is an amazing thing,” Roller said. “I know I appreciated them when I was in school, and I know current students feel the same way. Hopefully by establishing the scholarship, we can help many more students in the future.”

Class of 2020 Practice Resilience Award and Class of 2021 Serving the Community Award

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are still being felt today. Many adjustments and sacrifices to stay safe and adapt to the new normal. Pharmacy students adapted in other ways, both in-person and virtually.

The Classes of 2020 and 2021 completed their degrees largely in a virtual environment. UAMS pivoted quickly to virtual classes. Commencement went virtual too, with faculty presenting from mostly empty venues, and students receiving their hoods via video from friends and family.

COP Pandemic Health Screening

Pharmacy students banded together throughout the pandemic, conducting health screenings and giving vaccinations.Kennede McLeroy-Charles

It was a crash course in finding ways to step up and help. Pharmacists across the state, including UAMS College of Pharmacy students, worked together to provide timely information and COVID vaccinations as soon as they were available.

Tyler Tollett, Pharm.D., president for the Class of 2021, said the adjustment to pandemic life was difficult for everyone. However, the shared experience of pandemic life helped the class members form strong bonds together.

“I found myself struggling with the adjustment to online learning,” he said. “I found myself continually reaching out to my classmates to help guide me through the transition. Teamwork was paramount in order for our class to navigate these new challenges.”

Tollett said he was proud of his class’s efforts during the pandemic and thanked their preceptors for working hard to make sure their rotations were as normal as possible.

“I’m honored that the Dean’s Society and Chancellor’s Circle saw fit to highlight our class’s contributions amidst the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. “We were able to immunize thousands of Arkansans during a few short months and saved countless lives.”

The UAMS College of Pharmacy educates pharmacists to be medication experts and community leaders. Scholarships are critically important for these students. Investing in a scholarship makes a degree in pharmacy more affordable and accessible, recognizes deserving students for their hard work and helps keep highly qualified students in Arkansas and at UAMS.