Students at the UMKC School of Pharmacy have established a new organization they believe will be instrumental in encouraging and helping underrepresented minorities to succeed in pharmacy school and as pharmacists.
The Black Student Pharmacists organization is the first student group at the school created specifically to support African and African-American students, said Essence Daniels-Brewer, a second-year pharmacy student and president of the organization.
She said the goal is to give those students a greater voice and lay the groundwork for future students.
“We’ve created this organization to help each other through the journey, but also to help those who will come after us build from that,” Daniels-Brewer said. “It’s important for our future and for our current students.”
The organization has written into its constitution the goal to recruit, retain and serve, she said.
“We want to go out to the high schools and the community in general and let them know that we’re here to serve you, whether as mentors or just as friends and colleagues,” Daniels-Brewer said. “We’re here to be with you and support you throughout the program.”
Fifteen students make up the current founding membership of the organization. Bi Botti Youan, Pharm.D., PhD., professor, and Tamica Lige, M.A. Ed., Site Coordinator, serve as the group’s co-advisors.
Daniels-Brewer said the group is working toward having a summer orientation event for students as well as events to help other students learn about and understand the culture of Black students.
Charley Edwards, third-year pharmacy student and organization vice president, and Daniels-Brewer are also both leadership members of a program called Students in Training, in Academia, Health and Research (STAHR). The initiative is designed to increase the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds entering health care programs and better prepare them for success. STAHR is a collaborative effort between the schools of Pharmacy, Medicine and Dentistry.
“We’ve recognized that a lot of Black students here have very similar experiences,” Edwards said. “We’ve talked about those to identify what our needs are and now we will be able to share our experiences and needs universally.”
She said students have realized the need to support one another and ensure classmates and colleagues don’t struggle and fall behind.
“If we can improve our retention and make sure that more Black students are graduating on time, that will be a big win in my book,” Edwards said.