College of Pharmacy selects first Dean’s Achievement Award recipients

August 24, 2020 • Uncategorized

By Arnessa Blanks

The Class of 2024 kicked off their first year of the PharmD program last week. New this year is the 2020 Dean’s Achievement Award, granted to students with at least a 3.5 math and science grade point average and a PCAT score of 70 or above.

“The Dean’s Achievement Award recognizes some of our top applicants, students who have not only met the highest of academic standards, but have also shown great dedication to the profession,” said Rebeca Perfecto, Director of Admissions. “These students will receive guidance from our Dean throughout their four years of pharmacy school. This is truly a unique opportunity for the students who received this award.”

Dean S. Suresh Madhavan is thrilled with the full complement of 104 students admitted to the program and said, “Our admissions team and our faculty and staff have admitted a terrific class of 2024, and the talented students who have received the highly competitive Dean’s Achievement Award are a great testimony to the caliber of students who are attracted to our outstanding PharmD degree program.”

2020 Dean’s Achievement Award Recipients

The following six students were selected for the Dean’s Achievement Award, each receiving a $15,000 scholarship. These students come from diverse backgrounds and have many new opportunities and activities to look forward to as they begin their journey in pharmacy school


“The Dean’s Achievement Award means so much to me,” said Abdullah Abu Altemen. “When I saw the email saying that I was part of the Dean’s Achievement Award group I jumped and yelled from excitement!”

Alteman says he is grateful to be recognized and looks forward to starting this new journey with faculty and friends.

Lauren Cagle Photo

“Receiving the Dean’s achievement award is a tremendous honor,” said Lauren Cagle. “My goals for my first year in pharmacy school are to excel in my classes, support and help my classmates where I can, and find the perfect family-school balance.”

Cagle says this award has allowed her to appreciate the leadership and support of the SCP staff and their commitment to education.


Ranjana Danegulu, along with her peers, was ecstatic to have been selected for this prestigious award.

“It is a matter of great honor and somehow it gave me more confidence in beginning this journey,” she said. “I have a deep respect for the award and I am proud that I am one of the award recipients.”

Danegulu says she selected UNTHSC because it is close to home and has heard good reviews from friends, co-workers and alumni. She looks forward to interacting with her classmates, meeting the faculty and hopefully getting involved with student organizations.


“I want to start pharmacy school strong academically, learn as much as I can, make friends with like-minded people, join organizations and have fun,” said Dylan McNutt.

McNutt has lived in the DFW area since 2016 and chose UNTHSC because it is close to home and offers great programs and scholarships.

Sydney Thompson

“This award shows that UNTHSC has recognized my potential and is investing in my future,” said Sydney Thompson. “That kind of support is amazing and I appreciate it greatly. It’s comforting to feel your school and faculty in your corner rooting for you to succeed.”

Thompson says her goal for her first year in pharmacy school is to start strong and create a good foundation for the years to come. She is also looking forward to growing closer to her peers so they can grow together and be successful.


“I strive to gain exposure to different angles of the pharmacy profession through internships, volunteering, and research,” said Elise Vo. “I aim to diversify myself with the transferable skills and knowledge that would aid in the evolving roles of pharmacists.”

Vo says this achievement motivates and empowers her to put forth her best effort every day. She is excited to learn more about pharmaceutical drugs and pharmacy practice in a few weeks when the semester begins.

Beginning Pharmacy School During a Pandemic

Amidst a pandemic, students can expect their coursework to be quite different than usual with most coursework completed virtually. The Class of 2024 will only be on campus for in-person lab and skills activities about a dozen times this fall.

“I’m honestly feeling a lot better about starting pharmacy school virtually,” said Sydney Thompson. “I was definitely nervous at first because of the overall course load, but after being in communication with the cohort through group chat and being able to see that there are others that feel the same as me, I feel like, we as a group, can bring each other up and help each other out during this crazy time.”

Sydney says her peers have participated in social media exchanges so they can communicate that way, as well.

“New students will experience differences in the way in which the curriculum will be delivered – mostly online and individually rather than live and in a classroom with their peers,” said Dr. Killam-Worrall, Associate Professor of Pharmacotherapy and Associate Dean for Pharmacy Curriculum. “However, their learning and skills development will in no way be different from previous classes with the faculty and staff of the College of Pharmacy being there to help students every step of the way.”

This fall will definitely be different, but these new students are eager and excited to join the HSC College of Pharmacy.