Students receive more than $600,000 in scholarships

More than 150 professional student pharmacists received, on average, $4,000 each in scholarship money to help defray educational costs.

The Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy provides a number of scholarships that support its mission of providing health care training for students who serve the underserved areas of Texas.

“This award means more to me than words could express,” said Nicole Garza of Corpus Christi, Texas, third-year professional student pharmacists. “I am honored to have the privilege of receiving something that lightens the financial burden of achieving my goals and dreams.”

The college has received the funding each academic year since 2012 as part of a four-year, $2.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) under the Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students (SDS) Program. It is used to supplement the educational costs of qualified students attending the Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy and provide much-needed assistance to those qualified students pursuing their professional studies in the college.

This year, the HRSA grant funding was reduced after the federal sequester. Students were awarded $650,000 in the 2012-2013 academic year, and $609,635 in the 2013-2014 academic year. Approximately 100 first-, second- and third-year professional student pharmacists received more than $3,950. Fourth-year professional student pharmacists, 53 total, were awarded more than $4,100.

“These scholarships are significant to our deserving students to successfully complete their education and training, affording them to offset their expenses and to lessen their financial burden,” said Indra K. Reddy, Ph.D., professor and founding dean of the Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy.

These programs fit in well with the pharmacy college, which was created in 2006 by the Texas Legislature in response to the shortage of pharmacists in the border region. The scholarships do not have to be paid back and the cost of professional programs, such as the doctorate of pharmacy at the Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy, adds up for many students.

“All of my college education has been paid with loans, as I do not qualify for grants and my parents cannot afford to pay for my tuition and living expenses,” said second-year professional student pharmacist Ruth Gonzalez of Eagle Pass, Texas. “My debt will continue to increase until I graduate. This scholarship is greatly appreciated, as it will reduce my financial burden and help me further my education to achieve my professional goals.”

The HHS Health Resource and Services Administration health professions programs emphasize providing health care to the underserved. For instance, almost 40 percent of students trained by HRSA-funded programs complete some of their training in underserved areas, which has been shown to increase the likelihood that the individual will remain and practice in those areas.

Approximately 40 percent of graduates to date from the Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy have remained in South Texas to practice pharmacy.

Fourth-year professional student pharmacist Purvi Patel has received this scholarship each year for college. “The Scholarship for Disadvantaged Students in particular has definitely been a sizable award over the last four years and although I’ll still have a big financial burden to tackle when I graduate, every little bit helps,” said Patel, who is from Hamilton, Texas.

More than half of the students participating in HRSA-funded programs are from disadvantaged backgrounds. Studies have demonstrated that individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds also are more likely to practice in underserved areas.

Fourth-year professional student pharmacist Thongsamuth Bee Noymany appreciates the grant award.

“I plan on utilizing the scholarship towards my tuition and living expenses,” said Noymany, who is from Fort Worth, Texas. “It has been a big help in being able to focus on school and studies, while not worrying about having to work as much as I normally do.”

Two students received $5,000 from the 2013-2014 Hispanic Scholarship Fund/CVS Caremark Scholarship

“This will help me tremendously,” said second-year professional student pharmacist Monica Ayala of Sugar Land, Texas. “I am thankful that I was awarded the scholarship. The award will help me financially and allow me to pay for a part of my education. It will benefit me in the long run and help me pursue my dreams of becoming the first pharmacist in my family.”

Sasha Cruz, first-year professional student pharmacist, is thankful for the $5,000 scholarship because it allows her to continue her education at the Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy. Founded in 1975, the Hispanic scholarship fund is a leading organization to assist Hispanic’s in overcoming the barrier that sometimes prevents them from earning a degree. The Hispanic scholarship fund partnered with CVS Pharmacy to provide a scholarship of $5,000 to a student that met the criteria that was given. The scholarship is open to students that are pursuing a doctorate of pharmacy degree and that are in their first or second year of a professional pharmacy program.