Anderson Embodies Spirit of RESPy Award

MAY 01, 2008
Barbara Sax

Ms. Sax is a freelance writer based in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Leigh Ann Anderson, a third-year pharmacy student at the University of Oklahoma College of Pharmacy, believes that pursuing a career in health care is "the greatest way you can impact someone else?s life."

Her dedication to making a difference extends beyond her professional training to the community service projects and professional activities she pursues in her spare time.

"Leigh stood out early on as someone who sees a need and wants to make other lives better," said Jane E. Wilson, PhD, assistant dean for student affairs at the University of Oklahoma. "She has a real heart for service?that is where her passion lies. She is a leader in her class, as well as on campus."

Dr. Wilson said that those qualities contributed to Anderson being named the recipient of the college?s prestigious Mosier Scholar award?an award given to second-year pharmacy students who have achieved academic distinction along with a strong record of leadership in community service and extracurricular activities.

Of her many accomplishments, Anderson is most proud of her involvement with the Christian Medical and Dental Association (CMDA). As part of the CMDA, she participated in 3 medical missions in South America. "I was a pharmacy team coordinator, creating formularies and helping to run the clinics we set up." The experience was rewarding and eye-opening. "In America, we feel we need so much to be happy, but the people we met in South America are happy living much simpler lives," she said.

Last year, as the chair of the First Annual Homeless Health and Safety Fair held at the City Rescue Mission, a shelter for the homeless of Oklahoma City, Anderson again focused on helping those in need?though this time closer to home. She coordinated a city-wide health fair that served 500 homeless individuals.

"It was the first year we ever did the program, so I first had to identify the shelter?s needs and then find resources to fill them," said Anderson. "Once we started planning, we realized that we could expand the program from its original scope as a part of Pharmacy Week activities to include student volunteers from all of our health care colleges."

Various colleges held clothing and toiletries drives and raised funds. "About 500 individuals were given information about health resources during the event," said Dr. Wilson. Anderson will serve as chair of the event again this year and hopes it will be an annual event. "Leigh got people motivated and involved. It was a true campus community event spearheaded by the pharmacy school," said Dr. Wilson.

Anderson currently serves as the regent of the school?s Kappa Psi chapter and holds the office of secretary/treasurer in the College of Pharmacy Student Executive Council. In this role, she was instrumental in initiating a school service project. "We agreed on a silent auction for the Make-A-Wish Foundation," said Anderson. "We expected to be able to grant one child?s wish, but we raised $17,000 and were actually able to grant a wish for 3 children. The project was a great way to get the entire pharmacy school involved. It was great to start something that I hope will become a tradition," she said.

Anderson plans to pursue a residency after graduation. For someone who is so committed to serving others, the opportunity to make a difference in a setting that allows her to have direct patient contact is crucial.

She will continue to be involved in community service activities as well. "What you get out of life is directly influenced by what you put in," she said.

About the School

Since its inception in 1896, the University of Oklahoma College of Pharmacy has had more than 4200 graduates. The college offers state-of-the-art education and research as well as modern, innovative pharmacy practices and services. A focus on basic and applied research, quality instruction, community and professional service, and extensive instruction in all types of pharmacy practice settings ensures that graduates are prepared to meet the need for pharmaceutical care in the current marketplace. The college offers a doctor of pharmacy professional degree program and graduate programs in the pharmaceutical sciences, leading to master of science and doctor of philosophy degrees.

The Henry D. and Ida Mosier Building in Oklahoma City contains 77,000 square feet of modern classrooms, teaching laboratories, faculty and staff offices, research laboratories, and support facilities. Through affiliation agreements with the Oklahoma Health Center?s hospitals, as well as other community pharmacies, hospitals, and specialized health organizations, students have access to a variety of outstanding pharmacy practice sites.