Cultivating Future Leaders: How Alumni Engagement Assures Student Success

Alumni at the College of Pharmacy actively give back to help foster the next generation of leaders. From mentoring students…to providing internships…to generously supporting scholarships, alumni engagement enhances student experiences and career growth opportunities.

Ansley Booker, MS 2013, PhD, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Mercer University and a College of Pharmacy Alumni Board member, sets a stellar example of alumni engagement. A participant in the UGA Mentor Program, Dr. Booker said, “Mentorship is a key component to retention and success for our students. It engages them both professionally and socially. It allows students to expand their professional networks while developing necessary interpersonal skills for post-graduation activities and events. I am thrilled to see former students and mentees on LinkedIn showcasing their successes. Mentorship is about cultivating a legacy of leadership. It births a family of Darn Good Dawgs year after year!” 

Precepting students at Chancy Drugs is something Hugh and Tina Chancy, BS Pharmacy 1988, are passionate about. They shared, “We were thrilled to host Mohit Kumar from the College of Pharmacy in January of this year. He enjoyed his rotation at Chancy Drugs and gained experience in new and innovative pharmacy services, such as our long-term care and packaging pharmacy and ReadyMed program. His time here highlighted the impactful role independent pharmacists can have in communities.”

Commented Kumar, a P4 from Nashville, TN who has accepted a pharmaceutical sales position with Eli Lilly following his graduation in May,Completing a rotation with Chancy Drugs was definitely the highlight of my year. The aspects I enjoyed the most were the innovative ideas and solutions they pioneered to meet patient needs, along with the authentic relationships they developed within their communities. I’m so thankful for this opportunity and look forward to seeing the ways in which Chancy Drugs continues to advance the profession of independent pharmacy!” 

Tanzir Mortuza, PhD 2018, currently serves as a member of the College of Pharmacy Alumni Board, in which he shares strategic advice and provides critical support to the College. Associate Director of Regulatory Affairs (CMC) at BeiGene, Dr. Mortuza provides input on key initiatives at the College to continue developing a robust educational experience. He also champions fundraising and outreach to fellow alumni, encouraging others to give back. With his knowledge of regulatory sciences and drug discovery, Dr. Mortuza assures the education and experiential learning provided to students continue to evolve and equip the College’s graduates for the best career opportunities in the field. As he explained, “I only have good stories to share from my time here. From the mentors I met to the national and international opportunities that were provided to me when I was a student, I have always felt supported and rewarded by the College,” said Dr. Mortuza. “I am eager now to give back and help current students any way I can.”  

Alumni frequently visit campus throughout the academic year to speak with classes and student organizations about their pharmacy and pharmaceutical science careers. Hearing insights from alumni working in diverse positions and settings helps students better understand potential career pathways after graduation. For example, Ian Durie, PhD 2022, returned to campus this spring to participate in a roundtable event with PhD students about career opportunities and his role as a scientist for Boehringer Ingelheim. Dr. Durie commented, “I was excited to talk to old and new faces in the department. I graduated in 2022, and although I’m relatively new in my career, it has given me time to reflect on my path and the lessons I learned. Industry jobs are vast and diversified, and I wanted to share my experiences and give the students a better idea of the options out there.”

Student organizations benefit from alumni speakers as well. Recently, Mike Crooks, PharmD 2008, met with students in the Industry Pharmacists Organization chapter to discuss his role as Long-Term Care Clinical and Scientific Liaison for Otsuka Pharmaceutical Company and the skills needed to work in industry. “I love to meet and speak with students and discuss my path in pharmacy.” 

“Connecting with alumni helps students map out their goals, gain networking contacts, and find mentors already succeeding in prospective career fields,” said Kim Hamby, Alumni Director for the College of Pharmacy. “Whether chatting informally or presenting to an entire room of students, alumni play a vital role in furthering the College’s educational mission. Their guidance gives students inspiration and strategic direction to pursue meaningful careers that directly or indirectly improve patient outcomes. Our alumni community understands first-hand the difference our College made launching their careers. By getting involved, they pay it forward so current and future students achieve successful outcomes too.”

She added, “No matter how alumni choose to engage, their guidance and support makes a real difference for our students’ success. Our graduates’ journeys to becoming pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists starts on campus but continues through the lifelong support of this alumni network.” 

If you are an alumnus and wish to be involved in the life of the College, there are numerous ways to do so. Join the UGA Mentor Program, nominate an alumnus for an award, attend the College’s reception at GPhA’s Summer Convention, Share Your News, or contact Kim Hamby for engagement opportunities.

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