Student pharmacist Trent Gray Jr. strives to serve underrepresented, underserved communities

Campbell University graduates pharmacists who are now change agents in their communities. The Campbell free clinic gives students the opportunity to engage with, and give back to, real patients in the community, build a rapport with future colleagues from the PharmD, DO, PA, Nursing, PT, Social Work, and Public Health programs, and challenge their training using real-life scenarios.

Student Pharmacist: Trent Gray Jr.

Program: Dual Degree Doctor of Pharmacy & Master of Science in Public Health

Undergraduate Experience: Temple University

Personal & Professional Experience:

After graduating from Temple University (GO OWLS!) in 2014, I was blessed with the opportunity to participate in a research fellowship at the National Institutes of Health, specifically the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. While at the NIH, I had the pleasure of conducting research under the supervision of Dr. Michael Grigg PhD, one of the pioneers of protozoan parasitology. My goal was to take a reverse genetic approach to study the biological role of 182 Sag1 Related Sequences (SRS), a superfamily of developmentally regulated surface coat antigens, encoded by Toxoplasma gondii. During the two-year fellowship, I was granted a position in the NIH Academy. The NIH Academy is an intramural training research focus group designed to explore and create innovative ideas to combat health disparities within minority communities. The NIH academy, coupled with my inner-city upbringing, drove my decision to consider the positive impact of obtaining an MS Public Health.

Why Trent Chose a PharmD/MS Public Health Dual Degree:

I grew up in inner-city Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and then relocated to North Philadelphia to complete my undergraduate work. I spent most of my life surrounded by populations of people who were underserved and underrepresented in healthcare. Underrepresentation results in health disparities, lack of advocacy, and lack of trust in our healthcare system. I chose to pursue a dual PharmD/MS Public Health because pharmacists are readily available in communities. This allows pharmacists to gage the unmet needs of the community, and advocate for necessary change from within pharmacy-based organizations, such as the Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association. Campbell University has graduated pharmacists who are now change agents in their communities, such as the president of the North Carolina Board of Pharmacy and the President of North Carolina Association of Pharmacists. I will be gaining a network of alumni who possess great ideas for change, and I will be able to use these resources to serve underrepresented and underserved communities.

Accomplishments, strengths, and passions:

I am passionate about equity in healthcare. Minority populations are being disproportionately plagued by preventable, treatable, and manageable conditions. It’s our job, as champions of tomorrow, to make sure we have access to the same healthcare treatment as those with the means to afford it. This year I was very involved with the Student National Pharmacists Association’s (SNPhA) Operation Immunization, to administer free immunizations to students, faculty, and staff of Campbell University. I was also blessed with the opportunity to work at Hogan’s Pharmacy, where I am learning how to form positive relationships with community members, understand the importance of patient-specific barriers to treatment, and hone my communication skills to better serve patients. I also extend myself to Campbell’s free clinic. The free clinic gives me the opportunity to engage with, and give back to, real patients in the community, build a rapport with my future colleagues from the DO, PA, Nursing, PT, Social Work, and Public Health programs, and challenge my training using real-life scenarios. I think I bring an alternative, population-based, minority driven, and public health perspective to Campbell’s pharmacy community.

What do you love about Campbell Pharmacy?

I Love the family atmosphere at Campbell University. CPHS has initiated a Diversity and Inclusion committee to make sure our students’ multicultural backgrounds are being celebrated. This group also increases cultural competency and ensures students are being educated to the best of their abilities regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or religious beliefs.

Why should prospective students choose Campbell over other graduate and professional schools?

Every student should carefully evaluate each school based on what is important to their academic, social, and personal success. I chose Campbell because it’s a smaller school and I knew I would be able to connect with my professors on a more intimate level. I also felt like they WANTED me here. They called to make sure I made it home safe after the interviews, emailed a thank you for considering their program, and assigned me a student ambassador that I could reach out to during the decision-making process.

What does Black History Month mean to you?

Black History Month is one of many current reminders that we’ve come very far in the journey of reclaiming what it means to be black, how far we still have left to go, and to pay homage to our ancestors. The physical, psychological, and life altering sacrifices that our ancestors made were pivotal to the advancement of African American people. Black people must learn to love and embrace everything that we are and continue to promote the history and significance of our people, before it’s altered or forgotten. It wasn’t that long ago that people of color couldn’t receive education at the same institutions as white people because black people were seen as inferior. It wasn’t that long ago that young black men and women hung from trees for speaking out against the racially driven injustices of our nation. It wasn’t that long ago that Alton Sterling, Walter Scott, Sandra Bland, Samuel Dubose, Akai Gurley, Philando Castile, Terrence Crutcher, and many more lost their lives at hand of our law enforcement; and Colin Kaepernick was removed from the NFL for kneeling on their behalf. Black history month is a constant reminder that I can’t give up! God has blessed me with an opportunity to work towards a terminal degree at a prestigious institution, and it’s because of my Black History that I know I am capable, I belong here, and I deserve it.

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