Building an Unparalleled Pharmacy Scholarship Program

A strategic overhaul of the School’s scholarship program offers greater opportunity for pharmacy students

Story by Audrey Smith | Published March 28, 2023

Signature Scholarship students pose in front of a fireplace mantle

Angela Kashuba, dean of the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, is passionate about student financial aid. As a first-generation college student who commuted 1.5 hours each way as an undergraduate student, she knows the potential impact of scholarships.  

“Scholarships relieve stress and give students the financial freedom to explore their options and be fully immersed in what’s going on around them — on campus, within our school and within the profession,” said Kashuba. “When a student doesn’t have as much financial freedom, they are working all the time to support themselves, or feel the need to lock in on a career path as quickly as possible, and they miss out on the enriching experiences that can help them grow as people and professionals.”  

Historically, the pharmacy school has prioritized giving financial awards to as many students as possible, even if the awards were relatively small. But school leadership became concerned that the awards weren’t making enough of an impact, especially for students from the state’s rural and underserved areas.  

The school’s scholarship program is being revamped to offer a greater number of half-to-full scholarships. Each year eight full four-year scholarships will be awarded to in-state students, and another 25-30 half-to-full four-year scholarships will be awarded.  

Julian Garcia, Pharm.D. candidate, is part of the inaugural class of Signature Scholarship recipients at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. “Private funding has made my experience at Carolina much easier and has allowed me to focus on what matters most: learning from the brilliant professors and exercising the skills necessary to become a successful graduate,” said Garcia. 

In addition to the financial awards, scholarship recipients will benefit from a full scholarship program, modeled after the Morehead-Cain, that includes a global experience, a dedicated alumni mentor and time with school leadership, including the dean.  

This new scholarship program is possible thanks to the pharmacy school’s many generous and engaged donors.  

One such donor was alumna Linda Griffin. Griffin earned a pharmacy degree in 1973, and remained a committed supporter of the school throughout her career in retail pharmacy and then in the pharmaceutical industry. She passed away in April 2020, only nine weeks after receiving an advanced cancer diagnosis, and left an estate gift that included scholarship and unrestricted funds that have been vitally important in getting the Signature Scholarship off the ground.  

“We are the only public pharmacy school in North Carolina, and we’re committed to having a student population that reflects the state’s demographics,” said Kashuba. “Many students from rural and underserved areas would struggle financially without these scholarships, but with this assistance, they will become the best pharmacists for their communities.” 

Studies show that health care providers who share lived experiences with their patients provide better care and are more trusted by the community. And many students from rural communities have a strong desire to return home after completing pharmacy school and provide care in their own community. With this in mind, the school’s leadership team believes that improving accessibility for a wider group of in-state students can improve the health of countless North Carolinians in underserved areas. 

The financial aid portion of the Signature Scholarship program has already launched, with scholarships awarded to 26 students in fall 2022. The corresponding enrichment program is still being designed and will roll out in fall 2023.