MU | Features
From Alumna to Faculty Member , Andrea Mekonnen ’ 16 reflects on her experience
n 2016 , 50 students finished their pioneering journey to become the first to graduate from the Manchester University Pharmacy Program . Over the past five years , those students-turned-pharmacists have spread across the country to fill a wide variety of roles in the world of pharmacy .
Now , Manchester University is hosting the inaugural class ’ s five-year reunion and taking time to reflect on the trailblazing and entrepreneurial spirit of that first class .
Andrea Mekonnen , Pharm . D . remembers her time as a student well . Mekonnen , who also earned her undergraduate degree at Manchester University , was impressed with the camaraderie and close-knit community the institution fostered among students and faculty alike . And when she learned that Manchester would be launching its first-ever pharmacy program , Mekonnen felt confident in applying – expecting a similar camaraderie in her post-graduate studies , she said .
And she wasn ’ t wrong .
“ It was definitely a unique experience ,” said Mekonnen . “ We got to have a really close relationship with a lot of the faculty here , because it was just our one class and the faculty . So , we had a unique perspective .”
Mekonnen recalls a lot of great discussions with faculty members about the curriculum and the future of the Pharmacy Program .
“ I feel like we had a good balance of education , but we also had a say in where we thought things should go in the future ,” said Mekonnen .
Left : Manchester ’ s first pharmacy class , Commencement weekend 2016 Above : Andrea Mekonnen , Pharm . D ., assistant professor of pharmacy practice
“ That ’ s not something you can get with a lot of already established programs .”
In fact , Mekonnen still has a say in the curriculum – as a member of the Manchester Pharmacy faculty .
After earning her Pharm . D ., Mekonnen completed her first year of residency at the University Health System in San Antonio , Texas . She returned to Manchester in 2017 as the first PGY2 in ambulatory care practice / instructor of pharmacy practice . Today , Mekonnen is an assistant professor of pharmacy practice .
Manchester Pharmacy Dean Tommy Smith echoed Mekonnen , saying the tight-knit relationships students formed with each other and with faculty members created a unique and enriching experience for everybody involved .
“ These students were absolutely pioneers , they were entrepreneurs , they were blazing a trail ,” said Smith . “ And they saw that as a badge of honor – that they were coming in to really set the stage and set the tone for the program and its future .”
He was also pleased to learn that Mekonnen had decided to return to Manchester , noting a sense of pride when an institution welcomed one of its graduates onto the faculty .
“ Andrea has done an amazing job as a faculty member who chairs our co-curricular committee . She understands what it means to be a Manchester Pharmacy student ,” said Smith . “ It ’ s more than just sitting in the classroom and absorbing information . It ’ s also about focusing on service and professional identity development , which is part and parcel with our co-curriculum .”
With the five-year reunion slated for this fall , Mekonnen reflected on the lasting friendships and professional connections she established as a pharmacy student .
“ It ’ s been a unique experience to have such good relationships with your classmates and to see where they go ,” said Mekonnen . “ And you end up with colleagues throughout the United States . Within my Manchester friends , we have people in North Carolina , Louisiana , California and Texas . It really gives you a far-reaching network of people to connect with .”
Manchester University | ManchesterRx 15