From small town to prestigious pharmacy program: Alcorn State senior Kalisha Durr admitted to the University of Tennessee Health Science Center

Alcorn State University senior Kalisha Durr is on her way to pursuing her dreams in the field of pharmacy. Recently admitted to the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) pharmacy program, Durr is set to join the ranks of one of the top pharmacy schools in the country. But her accomplishments don’t stop there – she’s also been offered a position as a student assistant for the Pre-Health Scholars Program at UTHSC this upcoming summer.

As a student assistant, Durr will provide hands-on experience to undergraduate students interested in applying to professional schools. Her passion for pharmacy and her natural ability to teach make her the perfect fit for this program.

With a strong foundation from her time at Alcorn, the Brookhaven, Mississippi native is confident and well-equipped as she sets out on her new educational journey, knowing that the experiences and education she gained at her alma mater have prepared her well for future endeavors in her career.

“Once I made it to Alcorn, I took rigorous courses such as organic chemistry and biochemistry; although they were difficult, I was able to challenge myself to work harder. My hard work led me to become a chemistry tutor for the department under the direction of Dr. Thomas Ondera. Because of Dr. Ondera’s belief in me, I have assisted my peers and made their experience with chemistry less strenuous,” said Durr.

“During my sophomore year at Alcorn, I applied to become a pharmacy technician at my local Walmart to gain more hands-on experience in the world of pharmacy. I became fascinated with the profoundness of pharmacy and received guidance while applying for pharmacy school.”

The pharmacy school’s rigorous curriculum makes it one of the top schools in the United States.

“The University of Tennessee Health Science Center has gathered many accolades since its inception and has produced many successful pharmacists, some of who I have had the pleasure to meet. UTHSC also provides a dual degree option where I can obtain a master’s in instruction in curriculum and a Doctorate of Pharmacy.”

Throughout her life, Durr’s drive has been the key motivator in reaching her goals.

“I am excited; this has been a dream of mine for six years now, so finally saying that I have arrived is overwhelming. I sometimes catch myself sinking into imposter syndrome, and I must remind myself that my steps were ordered to get me to where I am today. When I came to Alcorn, transitioning from living at home to being on a college campus without my family and friends was hard on me mentally and emotionally. Because of my struggles, I want to share my story with others and ensure them that seeking help regarding their mental health is okay. Pharmacy is a way to inform others of what they can do to live healthier lives physically and mentally. Another goal of mine is to become bilingual. I want to become fluent in Spanish, so I may communicate effectively and continue to develop my skills as a traveler and a health professional.”

Durr intends to embark on a lifelong adventure, striving to accomplish her goals while expressing her appreciation to her family and friends for their support throughout her journey.

“My family, friends, and Alcorn family have instilled in me the confidence to be brave and go further,” said Durr. “Alcorn was the stepping stool I needed to show the world how excellent I could be. Because of this, I am forever grateful for Alcorn and all the lessons it has taught me. They also taught me that dedication would take me places my knowledge cannot. They have guided me through some of the highest and lowest points of my life, and because of that, I am extremely grateful and blessed.”