Ruth Adeyemi: A Dose of Determination

Ruth Adeyemi’s story is not just about personal success — it’s a narrative of a young entrepreneur turned aspiring pharmacist who is driven by a profound desire to give back to her community and elevate health care standards in her home country of Nigeria.

At 25 years old, Adeyemi owns her own business, studies pharmacy at the University of Florida and leads a nonprofit organization to promote good pharmacy practices in Nigeria. Alongside mentoring college students and engaging in various student organizations, she cherishes the time spent with her church community.

Ruth Adeyemi

Navigating through Adeyemi’s demanding schedule requires resilience, yet comprehending the underlying motivations illuminates the profound appreciation for her life’s journey.

From Nigeria with Love

Adeyemi’s pathway to pharmacy began in the rural village of Ayegbaju-Ekiti in southwest Nigeria. Home to about 40,000 residents, the community boasts only one hospital, a solitary gas station and a notable absence of fast-food restaurants. Adeyemi’s family has strong ties to the area and multiple generations made this area their home.

In rural areas of Nigeria, there is a scarcity of pharmacists equipped with the necessary training for counseling and patient care. Patient medicine stores, managed by chemists, serve as the primary source for acquiring over-the-counter medications. However, these chemists lack the conventional patient care training that a pharmacist in the United States would receive.

When Adeyemi developed short-sightedness at the age of 10, the local chemist prescribed an excessive amount of yeast pills as a remedy. Her eyes, face and hands swelled causing uncomfortable pain. This firsthand experience granted Adeyemi an early insight into the formidable obstacles many rural Nigerians confront in obtaining adequate health care.

Fortunately, Adeyemi had a trained pharmacist in the family who could advise her on appropriate medication use. Her uncle worked in Ado-Ekiti, the capital of Ekiti-state, Nigeria, and was revered for the compassion he showed his patients.

“He would dedicate time to counsel his patients, a practice not commonly observed in the rural pharmacies of Nigeria,” Adeyemi said. “He was highly respected by his patients and the medical community and became my inspiration for becoming a pharmacist.”

In 2015, at the age of 16, Adeyemi relocated to the U.S. to study biochemistry at Jacksonville University. The Nigerian Petroleum Technology Development Fund provided her with a scholarship and specifically endorsed the university for her academic pursuits. Despite being thousands of miles from home, she swiftly developed a deep appreciation for the Jacksonville community. When the moment arrived to enroll in a Pharm.D. program, there was a clear choice at the top of her list — the UF College of Pharmacy in Jacksonville.

From CEO to Pharm.D.

Before starting UF’s Doctor of Pharmacy program in 2021, Adeyemi returned to Nigeria to participate in the National Youth Service Corps, or NYSC, a mandatory one-year service program for Nigerian graduates under the age of 30 and foreign-trained graduates who desire to one day work in the country. The program exposes young Nigerians to the nation’s cultural and social diversity and instills a sense of patriotism and community service.

As a component of the NYSC program, Adeyemi participated in a three-month Google Data Skills Training course tailored for Africans. During this period, she learned about search engine optimization, or SEO, and its role in enhancing a website’s visibility. Equipped with this newfound expertise, she implemented numerous SEO strategies on her modest travel website, resulting in a significant surge in traffic.

“When I began sharing my website results on social media, people would ask me to teach them SEO,” Adeyemi said. “I saw a potential opportunity to establish my own business and offer guidance to business owners on effective blogging and improving their website traffic.”

Adeyemi founded SARMLife SEO Agency to help entrepreneurs implement effective digital growth strategies. Within three years, her company has supported more than 300 entrepreneurs and bloggers to expand their brands. To manage the growing demands of her business while pursuing her pharmacy education, Adeyemi enlisted the assistance of two part-time employees who work with clients and contribute to the overall management of the company.

Ruth Adeyemi presenting at the Minority Pharmacist Entrepreneur Conference in Orlando.

In October, Adeyemi was invited as the sole student pharmacist presenter at the Minority Pharmacist Entrepreneur Conference in Orlando. Alongside other pharmacy professionals, she shared an insightful perspective on venturing into entrepreneurial pathways beyond conventional roles in pharmacy.

“I felt the impact of mentorship at the conference, especially the support I received from Dr. Chardaé Whitner in the UF College of Pharmacy,” Adeyemi said. “It’s been a blessing to have a strong network of mentors pour into me, and I am motivated to give back in whatever capacity I can.”

The Compassionate Pharmacy Practice Project

Adeyemi has embraced the extracurricular opportunities that come with being a UF College of Pharmacy student. She is the current president of the Student National Pharmaceutical Association’s Jacksonville chapter, an active member of the Kappa Psi Pharmaceutical Fraternity and participates in the Student Society of Health-System Pharmacy and the Christian Pharmacists Fellowship International student organizations. These groups all provide an opportunity to work with underserved populations, which she identifies as a passion in her life. 

In 2022, she pioneered a new program called The Compassionate Pharmacy Practice Project. The nonprofit organization aims to develop a comprehensive pharmacy practice system that supports both urban and rural areas while elevating the role of pharmacists in health care practice throughout Nigeria.

“The Compassionate Pharmacy Practice Project marks the starting point of the work I aspire to undertake in Nigeria, centered around advocating for both pharmacists and patients,” Adeyemi said. “My goal is to establish pharmacists as respected health care providers and make sure that Nigerians in rural areas have access to quality care. Many people in my home country lack sufficient knowledge about medications, and very few of them have a pharmacist in their family to ensure the accuracy of their medicines.”

The Compassionate Pharmacy Practice Project includes 11 active officers and operates at two universities in Nigeria. Student leaders at the campuses host webinars and schedule events to educate future pharmacy leaders about good pharmacy practice before they become pharmacists. Adeyemi meets regularly with the officers and helps supervise the project from afar. While her long-term goal remains focused on returning to Nigeria, Adeyemi still has much to accomplish at UF. After completing the didactic portion of her pharmacy schooling this spring, she will begin a master’s program in public health. In the spring of 2025, she will begin her advanced pharmacy practice experience, or APPE, rotations — putting her on course to graduate with a Pharm.D. and master’s degree in the spring of 2026.