Support from School of Pharmacy alumni and friends promotes excellence and improves students’ experience
By Katie Ginder-Vogel
“We are the next generation of pharmacists, and your donations allow us to be engaged with this community,” says Mark Moua, third-year PharmD student at the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Pharmacy. As a recipient of three scholarships for the 2021–22 academic year, Moua addressed the attendees of the 2022 Scholarship Brunch Ceremony.
“Thank you for your investment in me and the investment for the pharmacy community,” he says.
Through the generous support of alumni and friends, the School of Pharmacy offers enough scholarships to affect nearly 40 percent of its PharmD students, helping to alleviate their financial burden so they can focus on their schoolwork and becoming leading pharmacists.
“Thank you for your investment in me and the investment for the pharmacy community.”
“Because of this funding, we can develop our interests and further our skills to be the pharmacists we want to be,” says Moua.
The ongoing impact of giving
Moua’s parents are refugees from Laos and Thailand, and he was the first person in his family to graduate from high school. He completed his undergraduate degree in biology and chemistry at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point. When he decided to go to pharmacy school, he felt nervous during orientation, worried that he wouldn’t fit in because he was older than his classmates.
“I was quickly proven wrong,” says Moua. “My peers — as different as they all are, as unique as they all are — really have made this school an amazing community. Pharmacy is a great community, and I’m deeply glad that I found this profession.”
Moua, who hopes to become an oncology pharmacist or a critical care pharmacist, has worked with Professor Eva Vivian on many community outreach projects during pharmacy school, including working to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates in underserved communities.
“I learned the importance of establishing trust within marginalized communities,” he says. “I hope to be able to continue to build and foster this trust because I strongly believe that every pharmacist can dismantle health inequities.”
Moua’s scholarships — the CVS Award, David (BS ’52, MS ’56) and Miriam Sanders Military Service Scholarship, and an Advanced Opportunity Program Award — meant he didn’t have to work full-time hours while in school, so he participated in the community initiatives important to him and spent time with his family and classmates.
“I can develop my leadership skills to address important topics to me, such as health disparities and ways to be a more inclusive pharmacist,” he says.
Pharmacy Alumni Association President Michael Nagy (PharmD ’16), an assistant professor in the Medical College of Wisconsin Pharmacy School, says he continues to feel the impact of the financial support he received from his scholarship at the School.
“The financial support I received can be linked to many incredible opportunities allotted to me for my professional and personal development,” says Nagy. “It allowed me to volunteer my time to facilitate study groups for the class below me and tutor my peers for my first forays into teaching.”
He says his scholarship decreased stress, which helped him perform well academically, and because he didn’t have to work many extra hours to cover his costs, he was able to serve as class president and student senate leader.
“These experiences helped me obtain a great internship, a wonderful longitudinal clinical experience at Gundersen Hospital, and be a highly competitive applicant for pharmacy residency programs,” Nagy says. “The incredible faculty allowed me to provide large group lectures and participate in large scale research projects. These experiences opened my eyes and the door to the career I have today, as assistant professor in a pharmacy school, teaching the next generation of pharmacy students.”
And now six years out from graduation, Nagy says the effects of his scholarships are still ever-present.
“By reducing student loan debt, my wife and I were able to afford a home during the pandemic and welcome our first child last September, both of which may not have been possible otherwise,” Nagy says. “The domino effect of receiving a scholarship can be felt for years and decades afterwards. My life and professional career could be incredibly different without the generosity of alumni.”
Paying it forward
Hundreds of Badger pharmacy alumni, in hundreds of different professional roles, have offered their support for student scholarships and success. One of them is Jolene Chapp (BS ‘98), who established the Ronald Goehring (BS ’98) Scholarship in honor of her late husband in 2006. Dan Kane, who served in the Navy with Goehring and reconnected with him at UW–Madison, also supports the fund, which provides scholarships for PharmD students who excel academically and are involved in their communities.
Chapp and Goehring met at the School of Pharmacy.
“Because of that, my time at the School of Pharmacy will always be very special to me,” says Chapp. “Both Ron and I came from modest upbringings. Higher education is expensive, and I wanted to help others have the same opportunities I had. I know Ron would have wanted this, as well.”
“It makes me feel good to know that this scholarship is helping students in a small way.”
Goehring began his career working for Walgreens and moved to independent pharmacy two years later.
“He enjoyed working hard and helping people,” says Chapp. “He was in the military prior to his schooling at UW–Madison. You might say that helping people was part of who he always was. He had a positive impact on people.”
“Each year, when I learn who has received the scholarship, I take a moment to pause and reflect on the student and my life with Ron,” says Chapp, a pharmacist at the Target CVS in Northfield, Minnesota. “It makes me feel good to know that this scholarship is helping students in a small way.”