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RESPy Awards

A Passion to Help the Underserved

Iris Rosendahl
Published Online: Wednesday, August 1, 2007   [ Request Print ]

Nonyerem (Nony) Nwaneri - the latest winner of the Pharmacy Times/Wal-Mart RESPy award - is described as a young woman "who actually cares; she actually has a vision for helping underserved communities." This description comes from Nancy Nkansah, PharmD, BCPS, assistant professor of clinical pharmacy at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), who nominated Nwaneri for the RESPy award. "In my opinion, Nony not only has an unyielding desire to eliminate health care disparities, but also personifies the essence of dedication and hard work."

Nwaneri has been active in many outreach programs aimed at "increasing the number of underrepresented minorities in pharmacy school," Dr. Nkansah explained. She further stated that Nwaneri was the "individual who breathed a new sense of life to the UCSF Student National Pharmaceutical Association [SNPhA] organization. She is one of those people you meet who has a true sense of passion for a cause and [is] not merely a temporary/passive participant."

Nwaneri worked on 3 SNPhA-sponsored projects, among many other volunteer activities, including:

  • High School Outreaches in San Francisco. The goal of these outreaches is to educate high school students and promote the field of pharmacy as a viable career pathway.

  • San Francisco State University (SFSU) Graduate School Fair. This fair provided information to SFSU students on the UCSF School of Pharmacy program.

  • Annual High School Outreach at UCSF

At UCSF, she also participated in the Latino Association of Pharmacy Students Undergraduate Day, an event that provides a pharmacy student panel that aims to expose underrepresented minority college students to careers in the health professions.

When looking at her various volunteer activities, Nwaneri said that she got the most satisfaction out of a revival of SNPhA's chapter at UCSF. She completed this feat with 7 officers of the student organization. "We structured and targeted the organization toward student pharmacists who share a common interest in SNPhA's mission" to focus on issues affecting minority communities?." The high school outreaches we conducted were predominantly located in underserved areas [in San Francisco]" and were aimed at members of minority groups who "needed some direction on the importance of going to college and pursuing a career in the health care field."

As an example of her work, Nwaneri points to a high school senior she mentored who attended one of the SNPhA meetings. Ashley, "who received my advice and additional advice from one of my pharmacy mentors," was recently admitted to the pharmacy technician program at her school and hopes to go on to apply to a PharmD program and become a pharmacist.

Nwaneri gives her parents credit for her career choice. She says, "Both of my parents, born in Nigeria, immigrated to the United States with nothing but a determined will to work hard and struggle in order to make something good out of themselves."

Nwaneri will receive her PharmD degree next year from the UCSF School of Pharmacy. After graduation, she hopes "to pursue an extra year of training" as a pharmacy resident. "While a resident, I am going to try very hard to intern in a community pharmacy, because direct patient care and interaction are what I enjoy most in a career in pharmacy."

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