Harper Wins Future Leaders in Health Care Award

Published on 11 June 2020

Naomi Harper, Pharm.D. ’20, MPH, was the recent recipient of a Future Leaders in Health Care Award from CORE Higher Education Group.

CORE Higher Education Group is an education technology company providing software applications that help colleges better prepare students for rotations and the workplace. The organization presents its Future Leaders in Health Care Awards to pharmacy students who have excelled in CORE’s online curriculum by displaying initiative, curiosity and a strong work ethic.

“Naomi is a great candidate for this award because she was able to use the CORE Experiential Learning Management Software to better navigate communication and evaluation with her preceptors,” Nicole Gattas, Pharm.D., BCPS, director of experiential education and associate professor of pharmacy practice, stated.

“I’m proud of being named a ‘future leader,’” Harper explained. “As a minority and the first in my family to pursue health care, this award gives me the validation and confidence I need to begin my career.”

Harper knew from a young age that she wanted a career in health care, but her path to studying pharmacy at St. Louis College of Pharmacy was not a traditional one. She began her academic career at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, where she achieved a Bachelor of Science in Food Science and Human Nutrition.

During her undergraduate years, she discovered a passion for public health and her adviser encouraged her to pursue a Master of Science in Public Health. Her graduate career then brought her to St. Louis University, where she completed her master’s degree while working as a graduate assistant at the College.

“While working for the College’s Office of Student Affairs, I got to know the College administration and started attending on-campus lunch and learn sessions and other informational events for students,” Harper explained. ”Through these experiences, I learned about the critical role of pharmacists in public health, and realized that pharmacy was the missing piece of the puzzle to pursue my career goals. Once I finished my master’s, I applied to the College.”

Harper became highly involved at the College as a student, even serving as president of the Student Government Association. During her time as a student, she was especially impressed with the College’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

“The College showed me that I belong here through its many programs and activities that not only encourage diversity but actively celebrate it,” Harper said. “I appreciate the College’s efforts to welcome and include students from diverse backgrounds.”  

This summer, Harper will begin her career as a staff pharmacist for CVS in San Jose, California. As she prepares to launch her pharmacy career, she notes that the personal attention she received from faculty and staff at the College has prepared her for success.

“I’m so grateful to have received this award from CORE Education Group, and I’m also very thankful for the support I’ve had from the College, which has served as the foundation for my success as a student,” Harper said. “The small size of the College makes it feel like a family, and my professors have been my mentors as they guided me through my studies. Although I didn’t initially expect to pursue a career in pharmacy, I’m glad I found such a supportive community to guide me.”

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