Alumna, Ashton Pearce, takes part in a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Clinical Research and Drug Development with UNC and PPD

Name: Ashton Pearce

Program: PharmD/MSCR Dual Degree

Undergraduate: BS Clinical Research, Campbell University

Graduation year: 2023

Where are you currently employed: UNC/PPD

Title: Clinical Research and Drug Development Postdoctoral Fellow

Tell us a little bit about how amazing your current position is and what you do. How are you are making a positive impact? I am working in a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Clinical Research and Drug Development with UNC and PPD. During the first year of my fellowship, I will be conducting research under a UNC mentor and faculty member. I will spend my second year at PPD learning more about drug development and different functional areas within the company.

After my fellowship, I hope to establish a career in clinical development where I will have the opportunity to add value to the world of medicine and improve the lives of patients by delivering life-changing therapies. CPHS has provided me with some of the best mentors who have taught me so much and have helped me throughout this journey, and I couldn’t have done it without them. CPHS has also given me the knowledge, skills, experience, and support I needed to be successful.

Why did you apply for this fellowship, what are you most looking forward to, and what advice would you give to students who want to pursue fellowships? I applied for this fellowship because it melds everything that I am passionate about: clinical science, clinical research, and my expertise from my pharmacy curriculum (pharmacology, pharmacokinetics, therapeutics). It also will allow me to see both the academic and the pharmaceutical industry perspectives of drug development and research. I am most looking forward to learning and gaining hands on industry experience to better prepare myself for a career in clinical development. My advice for students who want to pursue fellowships is to get involved with IPhO and to look for a mentor who knows the industry.

Why did you choose CPHS and what benefits do you believe you gained/are gaining from attending Campbell? Did you connect with the “Campbell family?” I chose CPHS because I loved the family environment and its smaller size. After completing my BSCR at Campbell, I could not imagine choosing anywhere else to continue my education. I have gained lifelong mentors and friends during my time here. Campbell, its faculty, and the friends I have met have helped shape me into who I am today.

Please summarize your personal, business, and academic journey: I started my undergraduate studies at Campbell in 2013 as a pre-pharmacy student and then went on to complete my BSCR in August of 2017. Just a month later I was accepted into the PharmD/MSCR dual degree program and accepted a position as a Clinical Trials Assistant (CTA) with IQVIA. While doing my first year of MSCR classes online, I continued my position as a CTA at IQVIA, which ended when I started pharmacy school class in the fall of 2019.

During my time in pharmacy school, I was involved in several organizations such as APhA, Phi Delta Chi Pharmaceutical Fraternity, and IPhO. Last year I was inducted into the Rho Chi Pharmacy Honor Society-I am so proud of this! I also served as a tutor for many PharmD classes. Outside of school, I volunteer as a North Carolina Guardian ad Litem (“a child’s advocate in court”), which I am very passionate about and have been doing for close to seven years now. I investigate and determine the needs of abused and neglected children petitioned into the court system by the Department of Social Services. Being a voice for children has taught me how to be a leader for others and most importantly contribute to the betterment of children’s lives.

At Campbell we believe in purposeful lives and meaningful service. What legacy are you leaving? I hope to leave a legacy for the person who is shy, scared, and unsure. When I first came to Campbell, I was terrified. I had no confidence or self-esteem. I had also experienced family issues throughout my life and they escalated during this time.

I did not do well, academically, during my first year and even had to retake chemistry, but I pushed through. It was never even an option to give up in my mind. I knew that I wanted to pursue pharmacy since middle school, and I was not changing my mind. I told myself constantly, “this is what you said you were going to do, now do it.” And I did. I hope to leave a legacy of perseverance, strength, and inspiration for anyone who may need it. As the quote says, “I hope to be who I needed when I was younger.”

Reasons why prospective students should choose Campbell over other Graduate and Professional Schools: There are so many reasons to choose Campbell. The family environment, the faculty, the education, and CPHS as a whole provides an amazing environment to learn and grow personally as well as professionally.

Additional items you would like to include in your story: My advice for incoming first year CPHS professional students is to not be afraid to ask for help and be willing to step outside of your comfort zone. Seek out mentorship – that is part of what CPHS faculty are there for.

I would also like to give a special shoutout to Dr. Holland, Dr. J, Dr. Moore, Dr. Drew, and Dr. Bell – even though I have already told each of you, I hope you know how much you are appreciated.