Megan Williams, second from left, poses for a photo after accepting the John Dice Memorial Scholarship from the Pediatric Pharmacy Association. The other recipient of the scholarship is Jess Ogburn, a student at the University of Kentucky School of Pharmacy.
Megan Williams was about to begin pharmacy school when her 5-year-old nephew was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a cancerous brain tumor that starts in the lower back part of the brain.
Williams, a fourth-year student, already knew she wanted to become a pharmacist, but watching a team of professionals care for her nephew was inspiring.
“I saw him go through radiation and chemo and there was a lot of support from people at the pediatric hospital in Omaha, where he was being treated,” she said. “And I want to be able to give that back to other patients.”
Nearly four years later, Williams’ nephew, now 9, is in remission and healthy. In the spring, Williams was one of two students in the U.S. to be awarded the John Dice Memorial Student Scholarship by the Pediatric Pharmacy Association (PPAG). To qualify for the scholarship, Williams had to demonstrate a proven interest in pediatric pharmacy and show that she has a record of being involved in programs and volunteer efforts that focus on the well-being of children.
Williams is the fourth consecutive CU Pharmacy student to be awarded the scholarship.
Williams’ commitment to pediatric pharmacy started early, with an internship at Children’s Hospital Colorado. Just before she began at CU Pharmacy, when she still lived in her home state of Nebraska, she drove to Colorado for an interview at the hospital.
“If I could pick a dream job for an internship, it would be this,” she said. “And I was the only one who, No. 1, wasn’t in pharmacy school and didn’t live here. So I was terrified.”
It all worked out, though: “I ended up getting the job, and they worked with me when I was moving here,” Williams said.
In addition to her internship, Williams serves as president of the organization CU-PediatRx, a student chapter of the PPAG dedicated to improving medication therapy in children through promotion of safe and effective medication use.
For Williams, pediatric pharmacy has also led to friendships so strong that two other members of the CU-PediatRx, fourth-year CU Pharmacy students Laura Mullen and Jocelyn Amico, will be in her wedding in June 2020.
“When I first met Laura, actually, she approached me because she found out that I worked at Children’s Colorado and she was like, ‘Tell me about that. That sounds so cool,’” she said with a laugh, adding that now, “we’re always together.”
As she moves forward with her goal of becoming a pediatric pharmacist, Williams said she wanted to thank CU Pharmacy faculty member Dr. Allison Blackmer and Dr. Jennifer Hamner, the manager of professional development and the residency program director at Children’s Hospital Colorado, for their guidance in her career so far.
From her family’s perspective, pediatric pharmacy will make a big difference for other children.
“Everyone in our family was impacted by my nephew’s illness, so they think it’s really great I’ll be able to help out other children in similar situations or other chronic disease states,” she said.