Nearly 20 Baltimore-area homeschool students received an inside look at the pharmacy profession when visiting the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy on Jan. 20.
The idea for the visit came from Tecoya Farrakhan, PharmD ’02, MBA, MS ’21, CHC, and her husband, Karriem Farrakhan, PharmD ’03, MBA, MS ’21, whose two children were part of the cohort. The Farrakhans own a pharmacy staffing company, Primo Pharmacy Services, LLC, and a health and wellness transformation advisory and education company, Rootimentary Wellness, LLC.
“We thought this would be a great opportunity for our elementary through high school kids to be exposed to opportunities in pharmacy,” Tecoya said. “People think about CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid — the traditional community visual of what pharmacy is — and there’s so much more to the profession as well.”
The families of the students, who range from elementary age through high school, frequently tap their connections to expose their children to different career options. Past industry spotlights have included entrepreneurism, cybersecurity, and agriculture, but Tecoya wanted to ensure health care and pharmacy were included as well.
“It’s always been this way — pharmacy is the underdog in health care,” Tecoya said. “Lots of folks don’t think about us, so for that simple reason, we wanted to expose these children to pharmacy.”
A Hands-On Approach to Pharmacy
The group’s School of Pharmacy visit consisted of a lab tour, discussions with faculty, and interactive activities.
Jace Jones, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC) and associate director of the Mass Spectrometry Center, first led a tour of the center and discussed the career of a lab scientist. Later, Andrew Coop, PhD, associate dean for academic affairs and professor of PSC, delved into the core question that drives a scientist — why?
“Always ask questions,” Coop advised the students. “Just because someone says something, find out what they did to measure that. How did they come to their conclusions?”
During the activity portion, JuliAna Brammer, MBA, director of PharmD admissions, led the cohort in creating a lip scrub, and Cherokee Layson-Wolf, PharmD, BCACP, FAPhA, associate dean for student affairs and professor in the Department of Practice, Sciences, and Health Outcomes Research, helped the students create an intravenous (IV) solution. The students also had a surprise visitor — Dean Natalie D. Eddington, PhD, FAAPS, FCP — who asked them about what they learned and their career aspirations.
For the Farrakhans, the visit was an educational enrichment opportunity for their children, but also a homecoming of sorts to reconnect with former professors and return to the place they met. After completing their PharmD degrees, both returned to UMSOP as part of the first class of the MS in Medical Cannabis Science and Therapeutics program. Tecoya also served as White Coat Ceremony speaker for the PharmD Class of 2023.
“We love the school for what it has brought to Karriem and I and our family, and we look forward to seeing the wonderful things the school’s going to continue to do,” Tecoya said. “Every year it seems like there’s something new that we’re proud to be a part of.”