“Through your support, you allow young people to achieve their dreams,” said Dean Vassilios Papadopoulos as he welcomed guests to the USC School of Pharmacy Annual Scholarship Luncheon on Thursday, March 30. The event enables students to meet and thank the benefactors who help make their paths to pharmacy careers possible.

Dean Papadopoulos reported that 130 donors funded scholarships in 2016-17. While not all could attend, the Health Sciences Campus Pappas Quad still brimmed with donors, alumni and appreciative students.

Along with her gratitude, Eliza Asherian explained how pharmacy — and USC — became so important to her life. “My grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and was prescribed some of the most expensive and complicated medications,” she recalled. “My family completely relied on our community pharmacist for all questions pertaining not only to her medications, but also her health.” That pharmacist, a graduate of USC, “was extremely knowledgeable, yet carried a caring approach,” she said.

Asherian, whose older brother also is a student at the school, said they both look forward to giving back in the future, providing “students with the same opportunities you have provided us, not only financially but also educationally as mentors.”

Godfred Marfo, who moved from Ghana to study at the school, described his love for the university and his passion for helping others. For Marfo, whose interest in pharmacy was sparked by having sickle cell anemia, “the journey here wasn’t easy, and sometimes financial difficulties coupled with health constrains made it seem impossible — but I was determined to make it.” He thanked the donors for easing that journey.

Sai Upadyadula spoke of the generosity of Board of Councilors Chair William Heeres, whom his father met while a student at the school. “Bill decided to take a chance on my dad and help him get his first pharmacy,” Upadyadula said. “He paid it forward the way a Trojan does.”

Upadyadula, who said the School of Pharmacy was the only one he applied to, added, “USC is the most supportive institution I’ve ever attended — and I’ve been to several.”

“The Ashanti tribe have a proverb that translates to: ‘He who climbs the good tree, deserves a push,’” Marfo said. “Thank you all for your push — for pushing us higher than we could ever thrust ourselves and for setting up this cascade of love that will affect future generations.”

— Michele Keller

Pharmacy students are seen at the USC School of Pharmacy Scholarship Luncheon, held March 30 on the Health Sciences Campus. (Photo/David Sprague)