Pharmacy students bring cultures together with diversity fair
By Diane Smith
Samantha Watson and Judith Ihezie are usually studying to become pharmacists, but a recent class assignment allowed them to tap their ambassador skills.
During a diversity fair hosted by students from the UNT System College of Pharmacy, Watson and Ihezie displayed facts about Nigeria – where they share family roots. Their booth was among 10 cultural displays featured.
“It’s amazing to see the different countries,” Ihezie said as she pointed toward the booths. “This is Nigeria. Over there is Cameroon. We have Zambia. We have the Caribbean Islands. It is different cultures represented.”
A festive mood filled the second floor lobby of the Interdisciplinary Research and Education Building as students shared culture, food, music and history from countries where they have family ties. India, Iran, Nepal, Vietnam and Uganda also were represented at the fair.
The event evolved from a semester-long project in a pharmacy management class taught by Emanuel George, PharmD and Associate Dean of Student Engagement and Alumni Affairs at the UNT System College of Pharmacy.
Dr. George said the project let students build a product or event based on theories discussed in class. The result was an active learning experience that also touched on the cultural nuances involved in serving communities as pharmacists.
Students were given a blank slate to create an event.
“We came together as a class to propose ideas,” said Sanjida Hoque, a third-year pharmacy student. “We spent about a week or two gathering those ideas and weighing the positives and negatives of each idea. We held a vote and the majority vote was for the diversity fair.”
Hoque said the experience will help students be better pharmacists.
Hoque said they drafted a plan and formed committees and leadership roles to see the project through fruition.
Pharmacists are health professionals embedded in communities who need strong business skills, students said.
“We must be proficient in managing business operations and the way in which we serve our patients,” Hoque said. “That includes knowing who they are beyond their name and their conditions.”
Suresh Madhavan, PhD and Dean of the UNT System College of Pharmacy, said the fair showcased the very diversity that drew him to the Fort Worth campus.
“In an area like North Texas, where there are so many cultures, it is very important, when the pharmacist talks to a patient, that they recognize, appreciate and respect that individual’s background and culture,” Dr. Madhavan said.
The project also allowed students to know each other better.
“Events like this, activities like this, allow us to literally appreciate those who are around us,” Dr. George said. “It’s very easy to just see them based on a name or our day-to-day interactions, but not really understand the cultural impact of their upbringing – where they come from, their families.”
Students said the pharmacy school’s diverse demographics is an asset.
“Our campus is very diverse,” Hoque said. “That’s one of the things that is very unique to this school. We all have various talents and backgrounds that helped make this event very successful. I’m really proud of my classmates.”