Altruism and Education

Pharmacy TimesMay 2015 Skin & Eye Health
Volume 81
Issue 5

Nashrah Maryum, a pharmacy student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, has long been motivated by a desire to serve the underprivileged in her community.

Nashrah Maryum, a pharmacy student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, has long been motivated by a desire to serve the underprivileged in her community. As an undergraduate student, Maryum was among the first volunteers at a newly established volunteer- run clinic for uninsured and underinsured patients in the Urbana-Champaign area. She also helped to organize health clinics for impoverished communities in Peru and India.

Upon entering pharmacy school, Maryum coordinated pharmacy workshops at 2 local community clinics. Taking on a leadership role in her school’s Muslim Pharmacy Student Association, the 2016 PharmD candidate was then tasked with helping organize the group’s annual Fast-a-Thon fundraiser, an interfaith dinner that raised awareness and donations for a selected charity. Following the loss of a close friend to leukemia, Maryum chose to raise awareness and funds for Be the Match, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing treatments for life-threatening blood cancers and helping patients receive bone marrow transplants. Maryum and her peers raised more than $1000 for the organization and registered numerous individuals in the bone marrow registry.

“My leadership in Fast-a-Thon played an important role in my healing process after my friend’s death and made me appreciate the influence I had as a student in impacting the lives of others,” Maryum told Pharmacy Times.

An advocate for education, Maryum has coordinated educational seminars for students of various ages, especially those among underrepresented populations, in the hope of increasing interest in the sciences. Additionally, she served as a teaching assistant for a course that sought to teach pharmacy students how to better care for patients of diverse cultural, socioeconomic, and religious backgrounds.

As an undergraduate student, Maryum was also part of a research team that helped discover the mechanism of action of amphotericin B. Since this study’s publication in Nature Chemical Biology in 2014, there have been greater efforts to design less toxic analogues of the antifungal medication.

“I have always considered my research a form of community service, as well, as it is done with the intention of advancing science,” Maryum said.

Q: Has a patient or colleague taught you something that will help you be a better pharmacist?A: I am a direct product of the countless mentors and educators who have guided me throughout my life. The most influential person has undoubtedly been my mother, who was the catalyst for my family’s emigration from India to America when I was 6. Her dream was to provide opportunity, education, and growth for her 3 daughters. I appreciate how privileged I am to grow up in America. Yes, there are problems that need to be addressed, but for the most part, America is a very meritocratic society where hard work truly does pay off. My parents’ hard work paid off when I was granted a full-tuition scholarship to study molecular and cellular biology and chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

One thing I love about pharmacy is its culture of mentorship. Despite their professional successes, all the pharmacy professionals I have encountered are downto- earth and willing to contribute to my education. I also appreciate female leadership in pharmacy—women serving as managers, professors, and project leads.

Q: What is the most important quality for a pharmacist to possess?A: The most important quality for any professional is altruism. When you make doing good for others the foundation of your life, this characteristic branches into other valuable traits like patience, resilience, and creativity. Instead of any material object, my most important possession is time. I want to use my time efficiently to have the most impact on my family and community.

Q: What is the most important issue in pharmacy today?A: The most important issue is a lack of cohesiveness. Diversity is often a strength of our profession—we have professionals practicing in the community setting, hospitals, the pharmaceutical industry, managed care organizations, etc. However, to have a strong professional voice and be advocates for our patients, we need increased collaboration among the different fields of pharmacy. This is especially true when tackling tough issues like the high cost of medications, drug shortages, and gaining provider status for pharmacists. Health care is rapidly changing, and with our bright minds, diverse experiences, and multidisciplinary education, pharmacists play an important role in positively impacting patient care.

About the School

The University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy Sciences offers a traditional PharmD program and several joint programs that allow pharmacy students to also earn a PhD, MS-CTS, MSHI, or MBA. The school encourages its students to become involved with one of its numerous patient-oriented community service commitments in Chicago-area communities.

About RESPy - Brought to you by Walmart and Pharmacy Times

The RESPy (Respect, Excellence, and Service in Pharmacy) Award is presented to the student who has made a difference in his or her community by demonstrating excellence in pharmaceutical care. For more information, please visit

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