Memphis, TN — Rosie Ann Riley is one of the 698 health care professionals graduating from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) this month. On Friday, May 15, Riley received a Doctor of Pharmacy degree that paves the way for her third career. She has been a Marine, a professional wallpaper hanger, and now plans to practice as an oncology pharmacist.
In the same month Dr. Riley received her diploma at UTHSC, her daughter graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from Jackson State University.
Marie Chisholm-Burns, PharmD, MPH, MBA, FCCP, FASHP, dean of the UTHSC College of Pharmacy, calls this accomplishment by mother and daughter “a true testament to their love, strength and intellect.”
Dr. Riley is proud of her previous careers, which paid for her education and supported her family, but she sees being a pharmacist as a higher calling. “I have always felt we were put on this earth to serve others, and there is nothing better than teaching others how to take better care of themselves.”
A native of Madison, Mississippi, Dr. Riley attended the University of Southern Mississippi, but had to drop out for financial reasons. She joined the Marines, served in the Persian Gulf War, and left the service in 1992. The military stint helped finance her return to the University of Southern Mississippi, where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice in 1995.
By then a single mom, she briefly considered joining the FBI, but decided that career choice would take her away from her daughter, Ivy Lace Riley, born in 1992. With connections made through an acquaintance who was a general contractor, she began working as a professional wallpaper hanger. The job paid well and left her time to parent her daughter.
As her daughter grew older and required less care, Riley began thinking about getting an MBA. “The average salary of graduates was less than what I made hanging wallpaper,” she says. “I decided to look into other fields, and pharmacy was one.” She investigated several pharmacy schools, took the prerequisite courses, and began classes at UTHSC in 2010.
“I chose pharmacy because it allows independence and there is constant learning, so you never get bored like I did with hanging wallpaper,” Dr. Riley says. “I love pharmacy, and I love UT.”
Dr. Riley was one of 15 African-American students, 12 women and three men, who graduated from the UTHSC College of Pharmacy this year, which represents 8.5 percent of this year’s 175 Pharmacy graduates. The student body of the UTHSC College of Pharmacy has one of the largest percentages of African-American students enrolled of any college of pharmacy in the United States, with the exception of the historically black schools of pharmacy. The entering class in the fall of 2014 included 30.9 percent minority students, 16.6 percent of them African-American.
With annual instate tuition at $21,020 for this academic year, the UT College of Pharmacy is the lowest cost of the six colleges and schools of pharmacy in Tennessee. And graduates achieve pass rates and scores on national pharmacy licensure examinations above the national average. Annual out-of-state tuition for the UT College of Pharmacy is currently $40,600.
Founded in 1898, the UTHSC College of Pharmacy, now with campuses in Memphis, Knoxville, and Nashville, was the first pharmacy school established in Tennessee. It is ranked 17th among the nation’s Doctor of Pharmacy programs in U.S. News and World Report magazine’s America’s Best Graduate Schools.
As Tennessee’s only public, statewide, academic health system, the mission of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) is to bring the benefits of the health sciences to the achievement and maintenance of human health, with a focus on the citizens of Tennessee and the region, by pursuing an integrated program of education, research, clinical care, and public service. Offering a broad range of postgraduate and selected baccalaureate training opportunities, the main UTHSC campus is located in Memphis and includes six colleges: Dentistry, Graduate Health Sciences, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. UTHSC also educates and trains cohorts of medicine, pharmacy and/or health professions students — in addition to medical residents and fellows — at its major sites in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Nashville. Founded in 1911, during its more than 100 years, UT Health Science Center has educated and trained more than 57,000 health care professionals in academic settings and health care facilities across the state. For more information, visit www.uthsc.edu. Follow us on Facebook: facebook.com/uthsc, on Twitter: twitter.com/uthsc and on Instagram: instagram.com/uthsc.
The UT Health Science Cntr