Volunteerism Is the Heart of RESPy Winner

DECEMBER 01, 2006
Iris Rosendahl

Volunteering is central to Kacee Vogt's busy life. She has helped clean up an elderly man's home and yard after a hurricane in Port Arthur, Tex; assisted in the construction of a church building in Juarez, Mexico, by mixing concrete and laying bricks; sifted through debris for salvageable items after a tornado in Cordell, Okla; worked at Frog Road Camp, a church camp near Tulsa, Okla, with children aged 8 to 18, where she was a small group leader; volunteered at the Christian Villa retirement center in Stillwater, Okla, where she visited and sang with members of the center; and presented poison prevention information to students in elementary schools in Oklahoma City. This is only a sampling of her many volunteer activities.

"Community service has always been a priority for Kacee. Her curriculum vitae is steeped with activities [aimed] at serving the needy and providing information that benefits the general public health," said Jane E. Wilson, PhD, assistant dean for student affairs at the University of Oklahoma College of Pharmacy, in her letter of nomination recommending Kacee for the Pharmacy Times/Wal-Mart RESPy award.

Asked which of her volunteer activities she enjoyed the most, Kacee said, "spending a week with my friends from a campus ministry serving the homeless in Houston. We took them food and clothing and worked with inner-city children during Vacation Bible School. We played games with them and kept them busy while school was closed. It is a different culture," she said. Kacee has made this trip on every spring break for 5 years.

At the same time, she has maintained a 4.0 grade point average at the University of Oklahoma College of Pharmacy, for which she received the college's most prestigious award, the Mosier Scholar Award, said Dr. Wilson. In addition, she was recently elected by her classmates to lead the school's Student Executive Council, where "she has worked quickly to put her mark on the position," added Dr. Wilson.

Kacee, now 24, says that being president of the Executive Council, which oversees the student organization in the college, "has opened up many possibilities to me. It enables me to use my leadership skills. I am a liaison between students and the faculty. I can be a voice for the students." The council meets every other week and deals with problems that come up; Kacee will continue in this position until the end of the spring semester. "She is a delight to work with," said Dr. Wilson in an interview. "She is a good leader who is involved in our service projects. She is always there and is always available to her colleagues."

When asked about her future plans, Kacee said, "I think about it all the time, but I haven't figured it out yet. Every time I hear a speaker [discuss his or her work], I think it sounds great. I am keeping my options open. Pharmacy offers diversity and flexibility." A third-year student, she is strongly considering doing a residency in the clinical aspects of pharmacy or working in an independent community pharmacy because pharmacists there have "a better opportunity to have a relationship with patients."

Ms. Rosendahl is a freelance writer based in Fort Lee, NJ.

About the College

University of Oklahoma College of Pharmacy

Pharmacy is the oldest professional program at the University of Oklahoma, and the first 2 graduates received the pharmaceutical chemist diploma in 1896, according to the college's Web site. The College of Pharmacy moved to the Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City in 1976 from the Norman campus. The center includes major hospitals, clinics, and research facilities, as well as the College of Allied Health, Dentistry, Public Health, Nursing, and Medicine and the Graduate College. The College of Pharmacy includes the Henry D. and Ida Mosier Pharmacy Building, a 75,000- square-foot facility, which is well-equipped for contemporary pharmacy education, graduate education, and research in the pharmaceutical sciences and continuing professional education.

In fall 2002, the college extended the professional program to the Schusterman Health Center in Tulsa. Students in both Oklahoma City and Tulsa complete the same curriculum using a number of educational technologies and distance education methods.

The college offers the doctor of pharmacy professional degree program as the sole entry-level degree. A combined PharmD/MS program is offered to students seeking a graduate degree in conjunction with the professional doctoral degree. The Department of Graduate Pharmaceutical Sciences also offers programs leading to both the master of science and the doctor of philosophy degrees. These programs are designed to prepare scientists, educators, and practitioners for careers in pharmaceutical education, research, industry, and related areas of specialized practice.