The UF College of Pharmacy celebrates Black History Month to recognize the sacrifices, contributions, and achievements of African-Americans to the United States and the world. This month presents us all with the opportunity to reflect on where we are as an organization, a school, health care providers and individuals. Black History Month is not just a time to celebrate Black Americans who have paved the way for some of us to thrive. It is also a time to consider how we can create more justice in our daily lives and institutions.
We asked some of our Black faculty, staff and alumni to share what motivates them to excel as members of the UF College of Pharmacy community.
“My motivation to excel started with my dad. He emphasized ‘Do your best and be a standout. I also embraced the saying by championship coach Vince Lombardi, ‘the quality of a person’s life is directly proportional to their commitment to excellence, regardless of field of endeavor. I also give credit to many people at UF who helped shape my pursuit of excellence, including Dean Michael Schwartz, Professor Paul Doering, Professor Michael McKenzie and my fellow pharmacy school classmate, Charles ‘Mick’ Tully, M.D.”
ACHIEVEMENTS: I’m excited about the opportunity to speak and engage Cardinal Health pharmacists in January about Emotional Intelligence and it’s impact on productivity. More engagements at the coaching level are to come. I’m encouraged to do more work with pharmacists – teaching, coaching and speaking in the areas of leadership and emotional intelligence and patient satisfaction.
Here are some achievements in my previous positions that are noteworthy.
At Merck, I created and led national recruiting initiative for minority student recruitment. In addition, I managed Merck’s Health Education Department for physicians and pharmacists nationwide. I also managed Merck’s Pharmacy Affairs Department on a national level
At Watson, I recruited to help build Watson Pharma’s (now Activas) Sales and Marketing Division.
Finally, as an entrepreneur, I created Level 10 Consulting (Healthcare care focus firm) to help clients with business impact. My clients include: Merck, Watson, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Cardinal Health, United Healthcare and McKesson. My focus now is Wilkerson Leadership Coaching, where I provide leadership development to C-suite Level (CEO, COO, SVP, etc) and providers (physicians, pharmacists and dentist) and emotional intelligence development/patient satisfaction.
“When I entered the schoolhouse, I was labeled as one with a learning disability because my sister had a learning disability as the result of a fever as a child. When I decided to attend pharmacy school, I was paid to leave the Commonwealth of Virginia rather than attend what is now the VCU School of Pharmacy. My father shared when that option was offered to me, that when he was licensed as a pharmacist in Virginia, the news release labeled him as “Colored.”
My motivation has and continues be a quest to show that pharmacists of color are just as good if not better than other pharmacists. My degree at the University of Florida allowed me to speak the language that many health care providers speak. My professor in the non-traditional program held me up as an example for other students in making presentations. That ability resulted in my making presentations for numerous community and professional groups.”
ACHIEVEMENTS: My newly acquired clinical and presentation skills resulted in me serving as Chairman of the Board of the former Mid-Atlantic Affiliate of the American Heart Association and the first pharmacist to serve as chairman of the Quality, Safety, Risk and Credentials Committee of the Virginia Commonwealth University Health System Authority.
I have always strived to improve the health of patients in underserved communities. I am proud to continue pursue that goal by serving on the APhA Task Force on Addressing Systemic Racism in Pharmacy and serving as chair of the VPhA Task Force for Racial Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
“I come from a long line of educators who have instilled in me the value of an education. I am motivated by the pursuit of knowledge and understand that education does not end on graduation day. My education has opened doors and provided me with opportunities that were previously not available. I am motivated to do my best every day to advance science and bring important therapies to patients. The University of Florida has provided me with a toolbox to continue my pursuit for knowledge.”
ACHIEVEMENTS: I worked as pharmaceutical professional for nearly 14 years, I am wife and mother of two young boys. I recently lead the Merck CMC regulatory team on the approval of VERQUVO® by the US FDA. I am planning to complete a graduate degree of Masters in Science in Regulatory Affairs and Quality Assurance at Temple University in May 2021.
“My motivation [for excellence] is two-fold. I think about everyone that has given their time, effort and sacrificed for me from parents, family, mentors, preceptors and colleagues, I feel extremely fortunate and want to make sure I make the most of the opportunities I am given and continue to push to higher levels. I also think about those that may come after me and want to serve as an example of what is possible if your willing to put in the time and effort. As you learn to the history, alumni and lineage of UF specifically the College of Pharmacy, and engage the tremendous network of professionals and faculty you have access to, you quickly realize there is so much you can learn and absorb. The history and tradition of excellence encouraged me to journey down my own pursuit of excellence in hopes of being able to live up to what it means to be a graduate of UF College of Pharmacy.”
ACHIEVEMENTS: Dr. Tucker is extremely involved in professional organizations. He currently serves as the chair of the communications council for Florida Society of Health-System Pharmacist, of FSHP. He also served on various within FSHP such as professional affairs council, education council, membership affairs council and board of directors. In addition Tucker a past chair of the communications committee within the clinical pharmacy and pharmacology section of the Society of Critical Care Medicine. Tucker has given several presentations and published articles in the areas of clinical pharmacy, critical care and infectious diseases. He received the FSHP Forerunner Award in 2018 and was inducted as a Fellow of the American College of Critical Care Medicine in 2019.
“My pediatric patients spending any part of their childhood in the hospital motivates me to do everything in my power to help get them discharged as safely and quickly as possible. I am also motivated by others whose mission it is to advance patient care and act as a patient advocate. UF placed emphasis on the importance of evidence-based medicine and inter-professional relationships, which is what shaped how I practice as a new Clinical Pharmacy Specialist. My goal is always to do my job to the best of my ability, acting as the medication expert. The UF College of Pharmacy gave me the confidence needed to be that kind of pharmacist.”
ACHIEVEMENTS: Assisted in the creation of a new sedation and analgesia orderset for neonates at my hospital. Board certification in pediatric pharmacy coming soon!
“As a Black woman, failure is not an option for me. This is not just because I want to excel, it is because it is important to me to show Black Excellence 24/7 every day regardless of any adversity that I face. I have a global network of hundreds of Black female scientists. l wake up every day with a mindset to show them that they can excel.”
ACHIEVEMENTS: I am proud of my consortium’s work in addressing prostate cancer in Black men globally. Our global effort resulted in successfully obtaining the National Cancer Institute’s Clinical Proteomic Tumor Analysis Consortium, which allows us to contribute to accelerating the understanding of the molecular basis of cancer. Also, as the Chair of the African Organization for Research and Training in Cancer (AORTIC), our committee is hosting the inaugural AORTIC Cancer Genomics Conference (African Genomic Diversity: A Roadmap to Global Equity in Cancer Control), Feb 18-19, 2021. For me, there is no better way to celebrate Black History month than launching a purposeful program focused on understanding the genomics of cancer disparities in people of African ancestry. This will move us from discovery science to personalized care in populations of African ancestry.
“What motivates me to excel is the opportunity to serve patients, my community and my generation through the research that I do and the interactions we share together. One of my favorite quotes comes from the Bible and says, ‘Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant.’ Contributing to my community and the world through servant-based leadership is a passion and a principal motivator for me. As I reflect on the sacrifices and efforts made by those who came before me, particularly those of color and our allies, I am inspired to utilize the platforms and opportunities they fought to make available to me to positively impact the world around me.”
Faculty and Staff
“Knowing that the College of Pharmacy and UF is a diverse and inclusive workplace, I see there are many options to grow, and it motivates me to want to advance my career within this institution and college.”
“I read a quote by Colin Powel, that became my mantra; ‘Excellence is not an exception; It is a prevailing attitude.’ In my everyday work, I am motivated to deliver excellence, show excellence, and BE EXCELLENCE. It is my desire to continue in the footsteps of all the professional black women before me, and be the example for all of the young ladies coming behind me. It is clear that excellence from a woman of color is the standard, not the exception. Additionally, I have the privilege of planning events for students, faculty and staff, our alumni and friends. And when they attends an educational seminar, virtual meeting, scientific conference, or holiday party, I am very intentional (down to the smallest detail) about creating meaningful experiences that are inclusive of all. I continue to educate myself on various cultures and disciplines, and constantly seek to perfect my craft so that I am producing events at the highest level.”
ACHIEVEMENTS: Certified Government Meeting Professional; Serve as the President – Central Florida Chapter of Society of Government Meeting Professionals; Annual Guest Lecturer for the Hospitality and Tourism Program at UF College of Health and Human Performance
“As an educator and a researcher, I would like inspire the students and early stage investigators we train in the College of Pharmacy, especially those from minority backgrounds. Excelling in what I do not only contributes to the celebration of Black/Minority Excellence, but also demonstrates that success in academia and higher education is within the reach of women and underrepresented minorities.”
ACHIEVEMENTS: I am humbled by the fact that my collaborators/team members (Drs. Askal Ali – FAMU, Aram Babcock-UF, Joe Fuhr-UF, Dejana Braithwaite-UF) and I were invited to submit our work on the incorporation of disparities into value assessment frameworks for health technologies to PhRMA Foundation as part of their Value Assessment Challenge Award.
“I excel because my ancestors fought for me to be here. Thus, I strive to make them proud by working hard every day. I am forever humbled by the opportunities given to me as a result of their struggle and perseverance. Therefore, I repay them by supporting other marginalized individuals – door open, ladder down.”
ACHIEVEMENTS: I am a proud wife of 18 years, a mother of 2 and a business owner.
“From a diversity and inclusion lens, what motivates me the most to excel at the College of Pharmacy is knowing that I represent the small 5% of black pharmacists in our profession. I believe representation is a key component for minority student success because often times these students can get lost in a system they are unable to identify with. I hope my presence at the university allows my students to see themselves through me and feel included in the classroom. Many black and brown pharmacists have paved the way for me and my hope is to do the same for my students.”