Dual degree student, Nakesha Spellman, promotes diversity and importance of networking throughout her educational and professional journey

Name: Nakesha Spellman

Program: Dual Doctor of Pharmacy & Master of Science in Clinical Research

Anticipated graduation: 2023

Undergrad: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Where are you currently employed? Starting July 1, 2023, I will begin a fellowship with AbbVie in conjunction with the University of Southern California

Title: Medical Affairs Fellow with the Oncology Team

Tell us a little bit about how amazing your current position is and what you do. How are you are making a positive impact? After receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from the University of North Carolina, I had the opportunity to begin my professional experience in the Contract Research Organization (CRO). Over the years, I have had the opportunity to assist in the clinical research and drug development in various therapeutic areas such as Neurological, Oncology, Cardiovascular, and Immunology. During those years, my interest in the pharmaceutical industry expanded tremendously.

Why did you choose CPHS and what benefits do you believe you have gained from attending Campbell? Did you connect with the “Campbell family?” When it was time for me to choose my graduate studies, I wanted to attend a university that had a strong focus on the Clinical Research field. I am blessed to say that Campbell University has an amazing dual degree program that allowed me to obtain a Master of Science in Clinical Research along with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree, which I have a very strong interest in. I also wanted to attend a university that would allow me the opportunity to make an impact through diversity, equity, and inclusion – and I have done just that!

Please summarize your personal, business, and academic journey: Throughout pharmacy school, I have had the opportunity to work in several positions and obtain various internships within the pharmacy profession. I knew it was vital for me to be proactive in gaining more exposure in the pharmaceutical industry. My optimism, strong networking skills, and perseverance have allowed me to gain a total of six internships during my time at Campbell University.

-Wake Forest Baptist Health Pharmacy Intern

-The Janssen Companies of Johnson and Johnson Medical Information and Knowledge Integration Intern

-Raleigh Neurology Associated Pharmacy Intern

-FHI Clinical Business Development Intern

-The Janssen Companies of Johnson & Johnson Medical Affairs Intern

-The Janssen Companies of Johnson & Johnson PDO Intern

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 must say, applying for a fellowship was not originally on my agenda when beginning pharmacy school; however, after obtaining various internships and networking within the pharmaceutical industry, I knew that it was essential for me to obtain a fellowship that could help set me apart from my peers. It will provide me with more knowledge and understanding of the medical affairs functional area, and professional development, network expansion, and experiential learning. I am looking forward to attending various conferences and congresses, informing healthcare providers of updated information on various oncology drugs and devices, and gaining exposure in the medical science liaison role. For any student who is interested in obtaining a fellowship, I advise them to “network, network, network!” Networking is key in the pharmaceutical industry! I would also advise them to conduct research in the functional area that they feel aligns with their passion and goals. Lastly, I believe that all pharmacy students should try to obtain an internship within the pharmaceutical industry. This will help expand connections, but will also help gain insight into the vast number of roles that are available.

Please summarize any additional accomplishments. What are you passionate about? While at Campbell, I have had the opportunity to expand my leadership roles in various awards. As previously stated, one of my main goals while obtaining my professional degree was to attend a university that would allow me to make an impact through diversity. I was able to transform Dedication to Representation (D2R), originally a community within CPHS, into a recognized organization. D2R is an organization that promotes the importance of diversity within the healthcare field, but also aims to increase the knowledge of students within CPHS on the importance of different ethnicities, backgrounds, genders, and sexualities, and encourages awareness, understanding, and openness. Under my leadership, the organization received the 2022 Impact Group Award (CPHS Excellence Award). I am very passionate about diversity and I hope to continue to make an impact within the pharmaceutical industry. Other leadership roles that I obtained and worked diligently in include: President of Student Ambassadors, Vice President of Student National Pharmaceutical Association, Dual Member Liaison for the Graduate Clinical Research Organization.

Ross T. Tsuyuki and colleagues wrote an article in 2019 that highlighted the lack of leadership within the pharmacy profession. Leadership is essential within the pharmacy profession for without it, the possibility to achieve goals and visions becomes slim. Over the years, through experiences, I have become eager to model great leadership and because of this, I was inducted into the Phi Lambda Sigma Pharmacy Leadership Society.

My hard work and dedication have been recognized by Campbell through various awards such as the Emerging Student Leader Award (CPHS Excellence Award), Commitment to Diversity (CPHS Excellence Award) Phi Lambda Sigma Student of the Month (Aug 2020), Outstanding Co-Chair Award (SNPhA), and Phi Lambda Sigma Service Leader Award.

At Campbell we believe in purposeful lives and meaningful service. What legacy are you leaving/do you hope to leave? I will continue to set an example for young black boys and girls, especially those with the “big names” to let them know that the sky is the limit. I truly believe nothing is impossible to achieve as long as you have God, a goal, and grit. Additionally, I plan to continue to provide mentorship to all who have an interest in the pharmaceutical industry. I plan to remain an advocate for diversity in clinical trials, and in the future, I would like to open my own clinic in Eastern, NC.

Reasons why prospective students should choose Campbell over other Graduate and Professional Schools: While at Campbell University I have come across some great professors who are advocates for their students. I am very grateful for the leadership that Dr. Catherine Wente has provided for me these last four years. Dr. Wente has been a call away during my time at Campbell. She was my advisor for Dedication to Representation (D2R) and remains an advocate for the organization! Even as a P4, she checks in with me and that really means a lot. It is always good to know someone is rooting for you!

I am very grateful for the guidance that was given to me over the years by Dr. Antoine Al-Achi and Dr. Melissa Holland. My first year of pharmacy school was very difficult due to the loss of an immediate family member. Dr. Al-Achi provided me with guidance on many levels. Not just education, but most importantly spiritually. Not only did he express that he believed in me, but he truly inspired me. He is a true gem!

Lastly, I would like to credit Dr. Melissa Holland for pushing me to obtain a fellowship. Initially, I was not going to pursue a fellowship; however, Dr. Holland provided me with a lot of knowledge on the pros and cons of completing one – the pharmaceutical industry is expanding tremendously. Obtaining a fellowship was the best way to help set me apart from my peers, and I am truly thankful to Dr. Holland for pushing me to go for it.

Additional items you would like to include in your story: I commend many of my teachers during my K-12 journey for their guidance through my education upbringing, along with my great-grandmother, Ruth Bogues, for starting my “learning” process. My educational journey began at Elizabeth City State University Laboratory School and then I continued the remainder of my learning in the Elizabeth City Pasquotank County Public School System: starting with Sheep Harney Elementary School, followed by River Road Middle School, and then finishing at Northeastern High School.

I enjoy spending spare time with my family and friends, traveling, attending music festivals, playing with my six German Rottweilers, and watching the Dallas Cowboys (disappointing at times). I am the youngest daughter of Rose and Tyronne Spellman, the sister of Dr. Connie Reliford (Len), and the wonderful auntie to Jaylen, Kennedy, and Jordan.