Jennifer Thackray is not one to keep her nose stuck in a book. Sure, working toward a PharmD degree takes endless hours of studying, but Thackray realizes that a true education is more well-rounded.
"I really believe that developing professionally and personally is just as important as developing academically," said Thackray, who will graduate from the University of Oklahoma College of Pharmacy (OUCOP) in June. "Because I believe this, it was not impossible for me to make time for organizational involvement in the midst of studying. Of course, I probably got less sleep, but it was worth every minute!" It was her full-throttle approach to schoolwork, pharmacy, and helping others that made Thackray the leader of the pack for the Walmart/Pharmacy Times RESPy Award.
During her undergraduate years studying science and biochemistry at Oklahoma State University, from where she graduated at the top of her class, Thackray was introduced to pharmacy. She shadowed pharmacists to get a feel for the work, and soon realized it was a perfect fit.
Thackray not only pursued a career in pharmacy through coursework, but also immersed herself in various organizations and volunteer activities from day one at the school. With such initiative and drive, it is no wonder that Thackray's peers elected her student council president last year. "Every field of pharmacy is in the midst of a change and will require passionate leaders to stand up and lead the way, said Thackray."
It is clear that Thackray fits that bill. As student council president, she led the group to be recognized as the OU Health Sciences Center Outstanding Student Organization for 2008. A highlight of her tenure as president was spearheading a silent auction to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Thackray's efforts helped raise nearly $20,000 for children with terminal illnesses.
The ambitious achiever also lent her skills to several health fairs during her time at OUCOP. As a Neighbor-for- Neighbor volunteer, Thackray dispensed donated medications to the working poor. She also volunteered for Vial of Life and Habitat for Humanity. In addition, Thackray has donated time to fundraising for worthy causes like United Way; Susan G. Komen for the Cure; Juvenile Diabetes Walk; the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society; the Tulsa Food Bank; the Children's Hospital at OU Medical Center; and the annual holiday Angel Tree.
Thackray led a station at Drug Warehouse to teach 7th graders about pharmacy, helping to instill her love of the profession into the youngsters. She is serving her third year as an OUCOP ambassador, playing an active role in the White Coat Ceremony, as well as speaking at student orientations, recruitment events, and student panel meetings.
In order to jump-start her undoubtedly bright future in the field, Thackray has devoted time to internships and other work alongside other pharmacists and clinicians.
Despite a multitude of commitments, Thackray is a Mosier Scholar, OUCOP's top award given to students who demonstrate leadership, scholarship, and service to the college, profession, and community. "Jen has not only met but exceeded expectations in each of these categories," said Jane Wilson, assistant dean for student affairs at OUCOP.
In terms of the future, a postgraduate year-1 residency at the University of North Carolina University is in the works. From there, the sky is the limit. "I truly believe an important part of [the OUCOP PharmD] program is to evolve from a student into a true professional," said Thackray.
From the looks of it, she is well on her way