Four ACP Students Selected as Virginia AHEC Scholars

OAKWOOD, VA (JUNE 29, 2021) –  Four Appalachian College of Pharmacy students, Maggie Haynes, Kristin Thompson, Danielle Saylor and Kenna Fields have been selected as Virginia American Health Education Centers (AHEC) Scholars.

Haynes and Thompson were nominated by Caterina Hernandez, ACP assistant professor in the department of pharmaceutical sciences. Fields was nominated by Angie Mutter, ACP academic support and experiential coordinator; and Saylor was nominated by Donna K. Cox, associate professor/academic advisor at Southeast Community College.

“We are proud of Maggie, Kristin, Danielle and Kenna for their selection as AHEC Scholars,” said ACP Dean Susan Mayhew. “Their selection reflects well on them as individuals committed to community service and improving health care and makes the Appalachian College of Pharmacy proud to be a part of their journey in the field of pharmacy.”

The Virginia AHEC Scholars Program recruits, trains and supports a diverse group of students from across the state, creating a multidisciplinary team of health professionals committed to both community service and the transformation of health care in Virginia, according to its website.

The program seeks individuals who are committed to improving health and health care, devoted to community service and interested in improving their own skills and in working with other professionals in team-based care.

In her nomination letter for Thompson, Hernandez noted Thompson is an effective communicator.

“Although adept at both verbal and written, her verbal communication skills are noteworthy,” Hernandez wrote. “As such, she has been chosen by her peers to lead several student pharmacist organizations. She already demonstrates exceptional networking skills and will be an ideal AHEC scholar because she will take full advantage of all opportunities presented. She is professional and keen to commit to a role to better healthcare access within Southwest Virginia.”

Hernandez noted Thompson is “a responsible, dedicated and industrious pharmacy student who possesses the necessary personal and intellectual strengths to be an ideal candidate for the AHEC scholars program.”

She added Thompson is an ACP student ambassador and as a team member, is instrumental in coordinating several community outreach programs within Southwest Virginia, including the Samaritan’s Purse/Operation Christmas Child program.

Hernandez also wrote a letter of recommendation for Haynes, noting that Haynes is also adept at communicating and working with a team of other healthcare professional through her role as a paramedic and in her role as a student pharmacist.

“She is such an effective communicator with the public, she continues to serve as an instructor for paramedics in training and was recruited to be a tutor to first year students at the pharmacy school,” Hernandez noted, adding Haynes has worked with people from very diverse backgrounds, ages, interests, temperaments, etc. in Southwest Virginia. She continues to do so in a congenial, professional, and productive manner.”

Hernandez noted Haynes is an asset to any program she pursues.

“She is professional and dedicated to the health sciences,” Hernandez noted, adding, “if she was pursuing a career in the biomedical sciences as an academic scientist, she would be one of my top choices to recruit to my laboratory (from all the students I taught to date at the pharmacy school).”

Mutter, who nominated Fields, wrote that Fields “is determined and highly intelligent. She is confident and a good student.”

She noted Fields has passion for her studies and volunteer work and she added, “that shows a lot about her character.

“I have observed her in the classroom and during volunteer opportunities and she is engaged and confident in her abilities,” Mutter wrote, adding that Fields participates in more than just classroom activities.

“She is kind and a quick study,” Mutter said, adding, “she has compassion for humans and animals and it shows in her work. She is an outstanding young lady would benefit from such a program.”   

Cox, who nominated Saylor, noted Saylor “is naturally very astute and so she grasps concepts easily, but she also challenges herself to a higher level of understanding of those concepts. She does not want to marginally understand, or likewise participate. She wants to know that she knows something.”

Cox said she saw that on several occasions when Saylor served as a student representative Southeast Community College’s Board of Directors.

“The conceptual switch from college curriculum to a presence in the community was not an easy one,” Cox wrote. “Board meetings were long, but Danielle prepared herself by delving into concepts and outcomes unfamiliar to most college students, spending hours researching agenda information. Because she can think analytically and is not intimidated by new information, she performs on a higher level than most students.”

She noted Saylor served as student government president and was selected by the Southeast college administration to speak on behalf of the student body at Southeast’s first Presidential Inauguration and by her peers to address her 2019 graduating class.

The four ACP students join a class of Virginia AHEC Scholars representing a variety of health professions and institutions from every region of Virginia. Selected applicants participate in a two-year educational program and may receive a stipend (subject to academic or institutional approval).

As AHEC scholars, they will meet students and faculty from other schools and across the region and state. They will also have the chance to meet leaders in health care and make connections with other participants.

The Appalachian College of Pharmacy is the only three-year Doctor of Pharmacy program in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Founded in 2003, the college accepted its first students in 2005. It is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Its mission is to cultivate a learning community committed to education, community outreach and the professional development of pharmacists. Its graduate pharmacists are now practicing throughout the United States.

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