UNION COUNTY — Four Union County High School seniors are among 21 students statewide to be awarded scholarships for a pharmacy technology program.
During Monday evening’s meeting of the Union County Board of School Trustees, district Director of Secondary Education Cindy Langley informed the board that PassAssured — a company which sells educational pharmacy materials — awarded 21 of 30 scholarships throughout the state of South Carolina to seniors interested in pursuing certification as pharmacy technicians.
Union County CATE (Career and Technology) Center Director Kevin Morrow announced that four students from the CATE Center (out of 21 across the state) won scholarships and will be enrolled in a new class — Pharmacy for Medical Careers. Those four students are Tamara Gilliam, Jazmine Smith, Shadara Young and Lori Ann Garrett.
The scholarships will pay for the students to enroll in the virtual class and prepare them to take a national certification exam. The class — which will be proctored by health occupations teacher Donna Pendleton — will include pharmacology, math and science standards while exposing students to pharmacy careers. Sections of the course will include orientation, federal law, medication review, aseptic techniques, calculations, pharmacy operations, study aids, a tutored exam and a final exam.
Pendleton said Wednesday that as seniors, Gilliam, Smith, Young, and Garrett, are on early release from school. When released from their other classes, Pendleton said they will come to her class where an office has been set aside for them to take the course.
Each student will have their own computer and will engage in independent study while taking the course. While she will not be teaching the class, Pendleton said she will be present as a resource for the students and to see to it they complete the work and complete each session on time.
Pendleton said the goal of the course is to give those taking it the skills they need to get jobs as pharmacy technicians and continue their education with the financial assistance of their employer.
“All of them have the intention of becoming pharmacy technicians and this teaches them how to be a pharmacy technician,” Pendleton said. “When they finish the class they will be able to take a pharmacy technician registry exam. If they pass the registry exam they can be employed by a national pharmacy that offers tuition reimbursement.”
Pendleton said that Presbyterian College offers a pharmacy program that the students, while working as pharmacists for a national company, could attend with their employer reimbursing them for their tuition. She said that she had a student last year who took the class and passed the registry exam and then got a scholarship and is now studying at PC to be a pharmacist.
To qualify for the scholarships they received from PassAssured, the students had to fill out an application form and write an essay. Pendleton said that in addition to that, Gilliam, Young, and Garrett last year shadowed the pharmacist at Wallace Thomson Hospital to learn more about the profession.
In addition to their working toward becoming pharmacy technicians, Pendleton said Gilliam and Garrett are also going for their CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) certification. She said that by doing so, Gilliam and Garrett have gained additional opportunities for employment and for financial assistance for continuing their education. Pendleton said she has several former students who have followed this route including one who went to work for Ellen Sagar Nursing Home, got a scholarship through being a CNA, and is now furthering her education at Spartanburg Community College while continuing to work.
Pendleton said that whether it is through the Pharmacy for Medical Careers program or the CNA program or any of the other courses her students take, her goal for them remains the same.
“My whole goal with the kids is to offer them the opportunity to get skills so they can be employable and get help to pay for their tuition,” Pendleton said.