Travel Awards: A Roadmap for Student Success

Research skills and techniques are rewarding for students to learn. Even more fulfilling are opportunities to share their discoveries with fellow colleagues and professionals. 

Presenting and articulating research findings has its own set of proficiencies that students must master. The College of Pharmacy is committed to students gaining presentation skills through many avenues – one of which is attendance at state and national professional meetings. 

To help students benefit from this learning opportunity, the College recently provided funding for 40 CoP students to attend the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Midyear Meeting (ASHP) in Anaheim, CA. Each student presented a research poster at the student exhibition held at the conference.  

“As a student considering a future in oncology, research is paramount to my future,” said Rebecca DeSantis, Class of 2025. DeSantis attended the ASHP meeting and presented a poster titled “Investigating the Correlation Between Hepatitis C Cure and Improvement of Hemoglobin A1c in Type II Diabetes Mellitus.”  

She continued, “Conducting and presenting my research is invaluable as a pharmacist to understand and interpret clinical data. Not just reading the study parameters, but submitting research for approval, gathering the information, synthesizing results, and presenting in an extremely precise manner are all valuable tools I now possess because of traveling to ASHP and presenting my research.”

N.M. Mahmudul Alam Bhuiya, a PhD student from Bangladesh, who is working towards his degree in Pharmaceutical Health Services, Outcomes and Policy attended the American College of Clinical Pharmacy Annual Meeting this past fall in Dallas, TX.  During the conference, he presented his research poster “Pharmacy Students’ Knowledge and Attitudes About the Therapeutic Uses of Psilocybin (Magic Mushrooms).  He remarked, “As an international student, visiting Texas for the ACCP annual meeting was a transformative journey, marked by my first conference, exposure to the first-ever new state other than Georgia, and insights into the unique landscape of healthcare in the USA. Presenting my study on psilocybin went beyond the academic sphere; it developed into a journey that broadened my viewpoints, emphasizing the significant impact of fully accepting new experiences.”

“Travel to professional arenas has proven to be essential for our students,” said Dean Kelly Smith. “They not only gain an aptitude to showcase their various research discoveries, but they engage with professional pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists at these pivotal meetings. Exposure to not just research, but to career paths, residency programs, pharmacy leaders, and networking opportunities occur during these educational experiences. This engagement can be inspiring and even life changing for a student looking to establish a career path. Additionally, active participation at these events reflects the College’s culture of innovation, expands prospective student and faculty recruitment, and enhances corporate partnerships.

Dr. Duc Do, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, traveled to the ASHP meeting in Anaheim and experienced the student presentations. “It was rewarding to see our students take a skillset they had learned at the College and present it in a public, professional arena.”

Dr. Do added that while the students had their registrations at ASHP paid for, all attendees had to fund their own flight, room, and board. “Many of our students can’t afford these expenses, so growing funds for student travel is critical if more students are going to experience these learning opportunities.” 

Dean Smith added that the commitment for student professional development via student travel directly aligns with several key priorities in the College’s 2025 Strategic Plan, which aims to transform pharmacy practice, drive scientific discovery, and elevate health and well-being through innovative academic programs, research, and service.  “The Teaching and Learning directive in the five-year plan is a great example,” she said. “It enables students to participate in not just professional conferences but expand career opportunities and make informed decisions about professional trajectories. Exposing students to opportunities beyond our classrooms is part of our experiential learning culture.” 

The Pharmacy Student Travel Award Fund enables more students to present their research and engage with leaders in the pharmacy profession. Gifts to this fund have a direct and profound impact on the professional growth of student pharmacists. As the Travel Award Fund continues to grow, more students will gain the skills, connections, and inspiration that comes from attending national conferences and meetings. Consider making a gift today online or contact Kate O’Reilly, Senior Director of Development at the College, at or 706-380-8930. Donor support sends a clear message to students that the profession is invested in their growth and development.

Third-year student Rebecca DeSantis (l) presents her research poster at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Midyear meeting in December, with support from her faculty mentor Dr. Brian Seagraves.

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