One day, Lauren Willis hopes to be more than a student at UGA. Working towards her doctorate in pharmacy with plans to graduate in spring, 2014, Lauren says, “If I could design my perfect job, it would entail working as a clinical pharmacist in a hospital setting, participating in research projects and teaching pharmacy students here at UGA.”
Strom Thurmond High School
I have a B.A. in multidisciplinary studies, combining chemistry, biology and psychology from Bard College in Annandale, N.Y. I earned my Ph.D. in neuroscience from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, S.C. My dissertation was on dietary blueberry supplementation in aged rats to improve the survival of transplanted tissue.
University highlights, achievements and awards:
When I first started pharmacy school, I was worried that I would be so different from the other students—especially considering my previous degree, etc. I did meet other students in my situation, so my classmate, Tara Fogleman, and I founded the College of Pharmacy Association of Non-Traditional Students, or COPANTS, of which I am currently the president. We have been able to bring together students from diverse backgrounds and experiences: students who are parents, have spouses, a prior degree or are starting a new career in pharmacy after being out of school for some time. COPANTS recently sponsored the first College of Pharmacy Chili Cook-Off, which was a huge success. I was recently elected class president and received the Lead Dawg Award for my leadership role at the college. I have served as the programming coordinator of the Academy of Student Pharmacists for the past two years, recruiting speakers in the healthcare field for our weekly organizational hour. I also am the vice chair of the Dean’s Student Advisory Council.
I am working part time as a pharmacy technician at Athens Regional Medical Center. I love the job—I have learned so much about medications and have really enjoyed interacting with the nursing and pharmacy staff at ARMC.
Family Ties to UGA:
I am the first of my family to attend UGA.
I chose to attend UGA because...
I was impressed with the research and scholarship being done by the faculty at the College of Pharmacy. I was looking for a Pharm.D. program that would allow me to incorporate my interest in research, and the faculty members here are very encouraging of that career path. Pharmacy offers such a variety of career options, and the faculty of the College of Pharmacy are always willing to discuss their clinical practice and scholarship activities.
My favorite things to do on campus are...
walk through the botanical garden adjacent to the pharmacy building and watch all of the excitement on Milledge Avenue during Greek Week.
When I have free time, I like...
watching historical documentaries (I know, I’m a nerd), sampling the strawberry lambic on tap at Trappeeze and spending the afternoon walking through the shops downtown.
The craziest thing I've done is...
Edgefield has a pretty little town square with the courthouse, shops and a big fountain right in the middle. When I was in high school, two friends and I thought it would be fun to pour a bottle of dish detergent into the fountain. So we poured a small bottle in late one night and watched a few bubbles float into the air and thought that was the extent of the excitement. The next morning, a giant mound of bubbles and foam covered the entire fountain and half of the square—this was a massive mess! There was a big story in the local newspaper, some people thought it was funny and some were upset. I never confessed, until now.
My favorite place to study is...
home in my pajamas.
My favorite professor is...
Dr. Henry Cobb, the patriarch of the College of Pharmacy. He always has a positive outlook, a friendly word and a wealth of information to share. I also admire Dr. Michael Neville, the course coordinator for our labs. In our Pharmacy Care Labs, we learn practical skills such as physical assessments, drug interactions and patient counseling. Finally, Dr. Alan Wolfgang, the dean of students, is a fantastic resource. He teaches a class in Academic Pharmacy and was a great help in getting COPANTS started. He also has a dish in his office that is always filled with little chocolates. In the middle of all of the stress of school, a little chocolate and a kind word from Dr. Wolfgang go far.
If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with...
I would share it with my nephew, Hudson Graham Willis. He is under the age of one and lives in Katy, Texas. I miss him, but I will finally have time to see him this summer.
If I knew I could not fail, I would...
If money was not a consideration, I would love to...
I honestly think that the job I’m working toward is going to be great—so interesting and fulfilling. If I could design my perfect job, it would entail working as a clinical pharmacist in a hospital setting, participating in research projects and teaching pharmacy students here at UGA.
After graduation, I plan to...
pursue residency programs in clinical pharmacy.
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be...
mistakenly getting on the orbit bus—I had no idea where I was going. And I had lost one contact lens, so I couldn’t see very well. The orbit bus still confuses me—places that seem far from each other are suddenly right next to each other on the orbit route. I finally got off the bus at the Arch. I still have no idea where the orbit bus goes, and I won’t be riding it again any time soon.