A Family Legacy of Service

Building relationships and making a difference inspires a student to become a third-generation pharmacist

Story by Mariava Philips | Published July 3, 2023

Side-by-side of Mary Drusilla Cox and Cassidy Cox

Generational and community impact is what inspired Cassidy Cox, Pharm.D. candidate ’25, to pursue her pharmacy education at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy.  

Her grandparents, Hugh Cox, RPh, and Mary Drusilla Cox, RPh, were both community pharmacists in Abington, Massachusetts. They owned and operated Bemis Drug for 40 years before passing it on to Cassidy’s father and uncle. Bemis Drug eventually closed its doors in 2021.  

“My grandparents were able to serve the community as a team, and they were able to serve their patients at the level they needed,” said Cassidy Cox. Her grandmother’s journey was particularly special since there weren’t many women in the field when she graduated from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy in 1950. Cassidy Cox admired the initiative she took to attend pharmacy school and operate a business during her time. “When my grandfather was busy, she was running the whole show,” she said. 

When her grandparents passed, Hugh in 2014 and Mary Drusilla in 2017, Cassidy heard firsthand how their roles as pharmacists affected people’s lives in Abington. 

“I was able to hear stories at both of their funerals about how they served throughout their careers, which was really impactful,” shared Cassidy. 

However, the family business of pharmacy doesn’t end there. Cassidy Cox’s father, Richard Cox, RPh, is also a pharmacist and, while growing up in Raleigh, she witnessed him serving their community through the local free clinic.  

That community service is also one of the reasons why she chose the Asheville campus after her first year at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. 

“I saw the same thing through his experience of being a leader in the community and helping the underserved in the Raleigh area,” Cassidy Cox said. Seeing how a pharmacist is a staple in the community led her to pursue ambulatory care in Asheville. 

She just completed her second year at the School and her first year on the Asheville campus, where she is in the Ambulatory Care Certificate Program. This program is unique to the School’s Asheville campus.  

“I see a lot of the aspects [of my grandparents’ careers] of building relationships, being in the community, and functioning as a community member with the skill set of a pharmacist in the ambulatory care setting,” Cassidy said. 

Through the Ambulatory Care Certificate Program, students develop practice management skills for establishing team-based pharmacy services in outpatient environments, advocate for legislative changes and receive professional mentoring with an ambulatory care resident.  

A highlight so far for Cassidy is learning more about how an ambulatory care pharmacist engages with the specific population they serve. She notes that both her grandparents and her father were able to make a difference in two different communities—Abington, Massachusetts and Raleigh, North Carolina. 

“You can find a community anywhere to serve. All communities look different, but they all need a pharmacist,” she said.

Story reprinted from pharmacy.unc.edu