"This degree gives you so many options and opportunities... Reach for the stars!"
Alumna Uche Anadu Ndefo (2004 Pharm.D.) remembers the moment in school it clicked for her that pharmacy touches the lives of real people. That realization has guided her through an accomplished career in academia and outcomes sciences. Uche served on the pharmacy faculty at Texas Southern University prior to her current role as a medical outcomes liaison for UCB, Inc.
Tell us about what you do:
Upon graduation, I completed a Managed Care Pharmacy Practice Residency at Kaiser Permanente in Georgia and stayed on for a couple of years before becoming a professor of Pharmacy Practice at Texas Southern University. During my tenure as a professor, I published over 30 peer-reviewed journal articles and received over $13 million in federal, state, and private funding as principal investigator, program director, co-PI and co-PD.
This summer, I accepted a position in Medical Outcomes with UCB, Inc. where I get the opportunity to work with my colleagues in managed care and focus on outcomes research.
How did you originally get interested in your field?
My aunt is a pharmacist and my sister was in pharmacy school – they influenced my decision to become a pharmacist. I chose the University of South Carolina because I wanted to be a Gamecock!
What activities were you involved with in school?
I was my class president throughout my tenure in pharmacy school. I participated in APhA, SSHP, and I was a Kappa Psi Little Sister. Those activities really helped me engage in the profession and allowed me to travel for conferences to truly understand how big the world of pharmacy is.
What class or professor was most memorable to you?
My favorite classes were all the classes taught by the Outcomes Sciences faculty (Dr. Reeder, Dr. Schultz, etc.) However, Dr. Jessica Webb Kerr influenced my decision to pursue academia. She taught the content in such a relatable manner. I remember one lecture – I think it was Women’s Health – she included a picture of her mom and grandmother. It really helped it click that what we were learning in school mattered and had a real impact on real people.
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
It really is all about your attitude. Attitude is just as important, if not more important than ability.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My students – teaching for 15 years gave me the privilege to teach over 1000 pharmacists. It is very rewarding to watch them grow and blossom in the field of pharmacy.
Who has been a mentor to you?
My first boss at Kaiser Permanente, Adrian Washington. He has been instrumental as a sounding board, an advisor, and a friend. Although my career did not mirror his, he has still been able to guide and mentor me and keep me grounded.
How do you spend your time outside of work?
I spend most of my time outside work as a chauffeur for my three sons (ages 12, 12, and 10). They all play sports and participate in a lot of school activities. I enjoy the time I get to spend with them because I am aware that it will all be over in a few years when they start driving so I am soaking up the time I have with them now.
What are you currently reading, watching, or listening to?
My TV stays on HGTV whenever I remember to turn it on. I am reading 25 books with my 5th grader that he has to read for a Name that Book competition so young adult fiction.
What skill would you love to master?
I would love to learn how to keep plants alive. I have the opposite of a green thumb, but I love plants and flowers. I also want to learn how to play an instrument – which will require learning how to read music.
What is your advice for current students / future pharmacy professionals?
Dream big! This degree gives you so many options and opportunities – do not restrict yourself. Take those out-of-state rotation opportunities. Apply to that residency that seems out of your reach. You never know what God has in store for you. Reach for the stars!
Looking back, is there anything you wish you had done differently?
Maybe not in school, but after… I wish I had worked harder at staying in touch with everyone!
What song always puts you in a good mood?
Any song by Flavour. (He is a Nigerian musician, and his music has that effect on anyone who hears it.)