Claflin Grad Sets Sights on Pharmacy Career Through New Academic Partnership

May 10, 2018

Saidah Wright

Claflin University administrators and faculty had students like Saidah Wright in mind when they began establishing partnerships with some of the region's leading medical and professional schools.

Wright, a member the class of 2018, will receive her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry at Claflin’s 148th Commencement at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 12, at the South Atlantic Conference Seventh-day Adventist Convention Center in Orangeburg. She is the first student to earn a degree through Claflin’s 3+4 partnership with the Campbell University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. Wright will continue in the program and pursue a doctorate in pharmacy.

“The 3+4 program allows students to earn a biochemistry degree after three years at Claflin. The students spend their senior year completing the program at Campbell University, where they earn credits toward a doctorate in pharmacy,” said Dr. Angela Peters, vice provost for academic programs. “The partnership with Campbell is one of several agreements Claflin has with Clemson University, Presbyterian College and the University of South Carolina in pharmacy and other programs.”

 Wright, a talented scholar in the Alice Carson Tisdale Honors College, said she was tremendously impressed with Campbell’s College of Pharmacy after attending a health professions readiness and enrichment program for prospective students.

“The sessions exposed us to admissions requirements, their focus on recruiting underrepresented minorities and a wide-range of career opportunities in the field of pharmacy,” she said.

Professors in Claflin’s School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics take special interest in their students through advising, securing internships and sharing their expertise in conducting groundbreaking research. Wright is a product of that nurturing environment.

The partnerships align with the university’s strategic plan, "Claflin LEADS: A Shared Vision for the 21st Century,” in which LEADS is an acronym for Leadership and Professional Development, Experiential Learning, Academic Excellence, Diversity and Inclusion and Student Success. They also contribute to Claflin’s growing reputation for producing high-achieving graduates from the STEM (Science Technology, Engineering and Math) disciplines.

Preparing students for opportunities in the 21st Century workforce, including high-paying jobs in STEM, is consistent with Claflin’s leadership of the UNCF® Career Pathways Initiative Grant, funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. Claflin, Benedict College and Voorhees College received part of a $6 million grant that will help the institutions design and implement programs to improve employment outcomes for graduates.

“My ultimate career goal is to work in underserved communities,” Wright said.

"My interest in a career in healthcare was influenced by my desire to help people. Pharmacy allows me to be the most accessible healthcare provider for patients. This degree will give me that opportunity.”

Wright was first introduced to the patient and pharmacist relationship while working as a technician at a local pharmacy in Orangeburg.

“Working with Dr. (Mark) Jamison was a motivating and inspiring experience. It changed my perception of what it means to be a pharmacist,” she said.

“It’s a lot more than dispensing pills and filling prescriptions. You have to make sure the medications and dosages are correct and that it’s the right medication. If it’s an independent pharmacy like Dr. Jamison operates, the pharmacist must be extremely organized because it’s a business," Wright said. "Dr. Jamison really cares about patients so he talks to them about their medications and charts their progress. But he also maintains and check his inventory of products and supplies. It takes a special person to run an independent pharmacy, and Dr. Jamison does an awesome job.”

She added, “There is a high demand for pharmacists and other healthcare professionals to provide service to underserved communities. Several states and federal agencies offer incentives including paying off student loans and tuition for working with the American Indian population. This would provide me an opportunity to utilize my healthcare knowledge and education to promote healthier lifestyles and help this population overcome barriers to good health.”

Asked to reflect on her academic achievements and her choice to attend Claflin, Wright said she would not change anything.

“Initially, I was hesitant about staying in Orangeburg and enrolling at Claflin,” she said. "However, Claflin really shaped me into becoming a visionary. If all goes as planned, I will have earned three degrees before reaching my 25th birthday. I have not thought too much about it. But when I do, I will remember that it all began at Claflin.”

Wright, a class of 2013 graduate of Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School, is the daughter of Carl and Lydia Wright of Orangeburg.

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