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A Network of Encouragement

Published on 15 August 2019

During her junior year of high school, first-year student Jasmine Adams applied for the BESt Pharmacy Summer Institute, a partnership between Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Express Scripts Inc. and St. Louis College of Pharmacy developed to introduce underrepresented high school students to careers in health care.

The BESt program provided Adams with her first exposure to pharmacy. Through BESt, she discovered that her love of math and science, coupled with her desire to help others, could combine to create a rewarding career as a pharmacist.

“Being surrounded by like-minded individuals allowed me to be myself,” she said. “As an African-American woman, BESt helped me embrace my identity and allowed me to be confident in it.”

Determined to learn more about the profession, Adams obtained a pharmacy technician position at CVS Pharmacy while she completed high school. Simultaneously, she worked as a volunteer for the Center for Racial Harmony, an organization dedicated to promoting understanding, cooperation and communication among all races and ethnic groups.

When the time came to select a college, Adams’ experiences in BESt helped her find the next step on her path. She knew the College would provide a supportive network that would nurture her desire to give back.

“The support I received during the BESt program is what inspired me to apply to St. Louis College of Pharmacy,” she said. “Those connections I made before I was even a student here are still cheering me on today.”

Adams attributes her connections with Alechia Abioye, Ph.D., assistant director of diversity and inclusion; Isaac Butler, Pharm.D., MBA, vice president for diversity and inclusion; and Dan Stiffler, director of financial aid, for providing an environment where she could achieve her greatest potential.

During her first week on campus, Adams accepted a Federal Work-Study position in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and assisted Abioye with the grand opening of the College's Multicultural Center.

“I had no idea I was going to be asked to help open the Multicultural Center,” she said. “It was an honor to attend the grand opening of a welcoming space that encourages people to be comfortable with who they are. Whether it be race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or something else, the center is a space to promote understanding and inclusion.”

Adams’ involvement with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Black Student Alliance has led to additional opportunities to volunteer outside the College community. Since the start of her first year, Adams has volunteered in her hometown of East St. Louis, Illinois, and participated in the College’s STLCOP C.A.R.E.S. (Community Awareness Reaching Everyone in St. Louis) event.

Adams’ passion for giving back recently led her to apply for the College’s Community Service Scholars Program, a scholarship program that encourages students to volunteer and serve as liaisons for campuswide community service projects. Adams was one of the first students enrolled and is helping pioneer the program.

“Dr. Butler and Dan Stiffler encouraged me to apply for the Community Service Scholars Program, and I’m so glad they did,” Adams said. “I love helping my community, and I enjoy recruiting other students for service projects. It’s very rewarding to go out and actually see the impact that your work makes.”

Inside the classroom, Adams credits the support she receives from her fellow classmates for helping her achieve her academic goals. As a member of the basketball team, she says her teammates are always encouraging one another to study.

“My friends who are student-athletes at other colleges talk about how they have to study by themselves,” she said. “Here, we study together as a team. Since we all have rigorous schedules, it’s reassuring to be part of a group that is going through the same things as you are.”

During her time at the College, Adams says she has also been amazed by the accessibility of faculty at the College and their willingness to help.

“I remember Dr. Pieper telling all of us during orientation that he was here to help if we ever needed anything,” she said. “One day, I was studying in the cafeteria and struggling with my homework. I looked over and saw Dr. Pieper eating his lunch, and I asked for his help. I was amazed at how approachable he was as the College’s president. As a freshman just starting out, it has been comforting to know I have a network of individuals here at the College to lift me up.”
This story was featured in the spring 2019 issue of Script magazine. To read past issues of the magazine, visit the Script magazine archive.

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