Spotlight: Lori Watkins

loriLori Watkins of Corpus Christi, Texas

Students sometimes lead in quiet ways, encouraging those around them. Lori Watkins, who graduated on May 23 from the Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy, is one of those quiet leaders who makes a huge impact on those around her.

She was awarded the Natural Medicines Graduation Award on May 20 at the College Awards from faculty members who noticed her interest in natural medicines.

Recognizing her academic and extracurricular accomplishments with overarching goals of educating patients on specific diseases and promoting interdisciplinary education and public health, Watkins received the U.S. Public Health Service Excellence in Public Health Pharmacy Practice Award last year.

Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy professors said she exemplified public service and her calling to help others. Watkins contributed to the well-being of others in a myriad of settings, but her commitment to medication safety and substance abuse prevention garnered most of her attention since starting pharmacy school. Prior to her tenure as a student pharmacist at the Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy, Watkins already demonstrated selfless community service.

As an undergraduate student at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, Watkins participated in multiple community outreach activities. She was president of the pre-pharmacy association where she led efforts to beautify the surrounding community with many hours of landscaping and volunteer clean-up.

During her summers as an undergraduate, Watkins participated in CampCAMP, Children’s Association for Maximizing Potential, which provides guidance to chronically disabled children. Each week, she was responsible with providing care for children, including feeding, bathing, clothing, administering medications, and supervising social interactions and physical activities.

“I was transformed when I cared for a deaf-blind child,” Watkins recalled. “I reflected on my ethical transformation after working with this child where traditional communication was entirely ineffective.”

Her experiences at CampCAMP ignited her passion in community service and she recognized the need to treat everyone fairly, regardless of circumstances. She continued her involvement with CampCAMP and other service opportunities when she began her pharmacy education.

Watkins actively participated in several student organizations, including the Student Society of Health-System Pharmacists, the Student National Pharmaceutical Association, the National Community Pharmacists Association, Kappa-Psi pharmaceutical fraternity and the American Pharmacist’s Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP).

Watkins served in two leadership roles with APhA-ASP as the co-chair for Generation RX and the assistant vice president of patient care projects. Generation RX is a program that delivers medication safety and poison control information to local school-aged children. Watkins was involved in the planning, presentation development and participation of Generation RX activities which reached 163 school-aged children at six different events in the South Texas community.

As an extension of Generation RX, Watkins volunteered during the DEA drug take-back day. She worked with DEA officers and local law enforcement to educate community members about potential abuse and misuse of unused or expired medications. Her coordinated efforts reached 548 community members in collecting unused medications and educating patients about substance abuse.

As vice president of patient care projects for APhA-ASP, Watkins helped coordinate and participate in Project SHINE, or Service & Help through Interprofessional Networking Experience.

“Lori was a major contributor to the organization of Project SHINE,” said Class of 2015 member Melissa A. Hinojosa of Mission, Texas. “She brought ideas to the table, such as making care packages for the patients who are being screened and she gathered information for presenting poison control awareness.”

Watkins has demonstrated empathy and true compassionate caring for community members in underserved areas in South Texas. She received a postgraduate year one residency wiith Methodist Hospital-San Antonio, where she plans to continue to cultivate her passion and active mission in public health to make an impact on those around her.