OXFORD, Miss. – What started out as a high school class assignment turned into a career path for Jackson native Tia Holloway. The University of Mississippi student’s journey to pharmacy school took a different route than she originally planned, but Holloway is excited to reach her destination.
As a freshman at McLaurin High School, Holloway took a career placement test that suggested she explore a career in pharmacy. She then began to research the field and developed a 10-year plan for entering the profession.
“I barely scratched the surface, since pharmacy has so many different aspects,” Holloway said. “I learned that pharmacy was more than just standing behind a counter and passing along medication. It is the threshold to the entire art of healing.”
Holloway had initially planned to start her pre-pharmacy studies at Ole Miss. However, an opportunity to stay close to her family and her church’s choir and youth development ministries in Jackson changed her plans, and she enrolled at Jackson State University.
Holloway finished her pre-pharmacy degree at JSU in May 2018, after just three years. This fall, she entered her first professional year at the UM School of Pharmacy.
“I wouldn’t have been content going to any other pharmacy school except Ole Miss,” Holloway said. “The school selects students who are the best in several areas, and it offers a variety of services specific to the advancement of each individual student.
“I love that I have the opportunity to learn, develop and network, as well as practice in my home state. Logistically and holistically speaking, Ole Miss was the perfect decision for me.”
The School of Pharmacy and Jackson State are partnering to help other JSU students who want to pursue pharmacy with the Preferred Admissions Program. This program offers pre-admission to pharmacy school for JSU freshmen who excel in pre-pharmacy classes and demonstrate a passion for service activities.
“The Preferred Admissions Program, which partners with Jackson State, Alcorn State University and Touglaoo College, is essential to expanding pharmacy education across the state,” said Chelsea Bennett, UM assistant dean for student services. “Bright, engaging and motivated students like Tia will enhance each of the institutions and the future of the profession.”
Holloway is helping fellow JSU Tigers interested in pharmacy by participating in a mentoring program that assists them with their applications to Ole Miss.
“My commitment to Ole Miss pharmacy began way before the Preferred Admissions Program, so hearing about this program upon my last year at Jackson State felt almost kismet,” Holloway said.
“I feel that this is a monumental opportunity for Jackson State University – a historical university dedicated to the advancement of minorities – and for inclusive diversity at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy.”
Soon Holloway will be able to share her firsthand experience in everything Ole Miss offers. She said she’s excited to apply the knowledge and skills she learns in class to her Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience and in her internship with Kroger Pharmacy.
“The world of pharmacy is so diverse in that it ranges from law to pediatrics,” Holloway said. “After my matriculation from this program, I hope to direct my passions into a pharmacy specialty and serve those who are underprivileged or less fortunate than me.”