Advocate of program inducted into Phi Lambda Sigma

Phi Lambda Sigma Ron Garza

Eight students selected to join leadership society

One of the founding fathers of the Texas A&M Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy wants to spur student leaders on to continue to initiate change through leadership opportunities.

“I want to stare the students in the eye and see if I can find words to express how important their lives are,” said Ron Garza, R.Ph, president of the Coastal Bend Pharmacy Association. “This generation of kids really impresses me. They seem to be well-grounded. I think the profession will be OK with them at the helm.”

Selected students at the Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy were inducted into the Pharmacy Leadership Society, Phi Lambda Sigma, on April 15, 2013, at the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Center, 1730 W. Corral Ave., Kingsville, Texas.

“Phi Lambda Sigma is such an honor,” said Amber Bacak, president of the organization.  “Because it recognizes that you have already accomplished amazing things as a leader. Our organization is not for those who only have leadership potential. Being a member means you are already a leader and it speaks volumes coming from your colleagues.”

Eight leaders were inducted and adorned with green and gold cords, green symbolizes strength and gold symbolizes fineness of character.

“Being chosen for membership into Phi Lambda Sigma is a tremendous honor,” said Christine Carney, Phi Lambda Sigma treasurer and president of the Pharmacy Student Council. “Membership selection is by peer recognition and there is no greater honor than being chosen by your peers as a leader in pharmacy. The eight people that were chosen to be inducted this year are the best of the best. I have no doubt in my mind that they will be the future leaders in our field.”

Garza, who is the owner of DeLeon’s Pharmacy in Corpus Christi, addressed the members and guests on ways for future leaders to affect change through pharmacy practice and community engagement.

Garza, who was born and raised in Corpus Christi, said he reluctantly became involved in politics when he was part of sharing the story of the legendary Hector P. Garcia, M.D., who inspired Mexican Americans to educate themselves in democratic principles, and he worked to apply those principles to all people through his organization, The American GI Forum. Garza portrayed Garcia in reenactment scenes of the documentary, “Justice for My People: The Hector P. Garcia Story” that aired in September 2007 on PBS.

Through his experiences, he learned that politics is everything and everything is politics. “There are only a handful of people who are in politics for the right reasons,” Garza said. “Students need to get involved in politics.”

Garza’s childhood prepared him for patient care and independent pharmacy practice.

Garza suffered upper respiratory infections and colic as a child and he needed medication often to treat his illness. He remembers his grandmother on the phone with a local pharmacist discussing his problems. The pharmacist would calm his grandmother and even deliver the medication to their home.

Garza remembers how Carlos A. Oliveira would help him feel better and during his teenage years, Garza decided to follow in Oliveira’s footsteps to become a pharmacist. Oliveira was mentor to many pharmacists, including Joe R. DeLeon, the man who would become Garza’s longtime friend and business partner.

In a twist of fate, Garza’s two mentors were friends and forever changed his legacy.

Garza graduated in 1985 from Texas Southern University, Summa Cum Laude and is a member of the Rho Chi Society.

He became part owner of DeLeon Pharmacy about 15 years ago and became a tireless fighter for independent pharmacy for South Texas.

“I encourage [students] to go out there to see what it’s like to work for a chain,” Garza said. “If they’re going to work hard, they might as well do it themselves. You can call your own shots. There will always be work for them in independent pharmacies.”