Program Director, BirminghamSondra


“I am from Birmingham, I am a pharmacist. I’ve been licensed in the state of Alabama for over 20 years, nearly 25 now and I’ve practiced for the majority of that time. The past couple of years I’ve been instructing here as a full time instructor for the Pharmacy Technician program, which is something I never in a million years thought I’d be doing, as a pharmacist.

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My daughter is 28 and I have a granddaughter who is 5 and I love to spend time with her. But as a pharmacist, I missed a lot of my daughter growing up. So I am trying to compensate for that. My family supports me. I was picking up life and enjoying more of it. And these are rewards that are priceless.

“Our purpose in life never stays the same. When you’ve reached certain goals and you achieve those goals, what do you do next?”

The difference in salary is phenomenal but the reward is also phenomenal. There is a bigger reward with me being here. This is the most fulfilling part of being a pharmacist that I’ve encountered. It’s something that I actually took on as my life journey and I embraced it, I didn’t really understand it at first, I didn’t really question it a lot either. But I knew there was a need and once I got here, I saw the need. That’s when I realized, our purpose in life never stays the same. When you’ve reached certain goals and you achieve those goals, what do you do next?

Right now my purpose is to provide my colleagues with good competent, qualified, certified, pharmacy technicians, and I know that there’s a need for the pharmacists, as well. I have to invest in my students by letting them know what their value is. And that’s the good part about being here because we can have those intimate relationships with the students and because of the student-teacher ratio.

I can get to know my students, I know what they’re weaknesses are, I know pretty much how they feel about themselves. That’s when I get them to buy into themselves. Whether it’s in this program or another program, it’s a matter of them completing something.

“I keep it real, because I’ve been there and they trust that.”

Being a pharmacist was just something that prepared me to do this. I know pharmacy, I know what it takes to have a good technician and I know the need to have a good staff. With me having that background, I can come in here and tell them what they need and what the pharmacy world and community needs. I keep it real, because I’ve been there and they trust that.

My aunt, bless her heart, she’s not here any longer, but she was a great school teacher. When she was pursuing a career, you know, back in those days, becoming a pharmacist was not an option for her to do, but it was a desire that she had. When I first started school, I went to Xavier University in New Orleans and I finished from there, my pre-pharmacy and pharmacy school. First year I was like, ‘Oh my god, I don’t know if I want to do this.’ I started as pre-med biology going to med school. I discussed it with my aunt, and she talked about her dreams about becoming a pharmacist… And she said, 'Why don’t you check into it?'

I became a pharmacist, and she was a school teacher. There are times I really want to share with her, ‘Hey, now I’m teaching! I really am teaching!’ I fulfilled her goal and she fulfilled mine.”

Watching the rebellious students grow, mature and appreciate the work is a huge accomplishment. I motivate those students by telling them, ‘Welcome to life.’

I tell every class, ‘We’re staying in the boat, we’re starting together and we’re gonna go across the river to get to the other side. This means, don’t give up, don’t abandon, you gotta show up. If you show up, we’re gonna make it happen.’”

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Are you a Virginia College student, graduate or staff member?We’d love to hear your story!

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Jamar, Savannah Graduate

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Allison, Columbus Student

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Sable, Columbus Graduate

“I have completed eight years with two deployments in service to my country.”

Eric, Jackson Student

“I am 53 and decided to start over in my career.”

Tammy, Augusta Student

“I am scared to death to leave my classmates and teachers when I graduate because I love them and have become attached.”

Kelsey, Baton Rouge Student

“As a single mother, I wanted to show my son it wasn’t too late to get my degree! I finished knowing I could start a career and provide for him and give him the life I never had.”

Chelsea, Birmingham Graduate

“I kept telling myself I was going to do this but never did it. Last year, I put my foot down and told myself that I am going to finish school.”

Kerpernia, Mobile Student

“My husband passed away in February 2017. I chose the medical assistant field because of taking care of him and my elderly parents.”

Janet, Knoxville Student

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Jessica, Knoxville Student

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Meshandra, Macon Instructor

“I’m a 37-year-old proud mother of three children and three stepchildren, a full-time student with a 4.0 GPA, and working full-time.”

Virginia, Lubbock Student

“I’m not a person that gives up easily on myself or others.”

Christine, Savannah Student

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Caitlin, Montgomery Student

“I was 34, a single mother of three. I worked full-time and was a full-time student. My life was nonstop for two years. As time went on it became a lot easier and a lot more fun.”

LaTasha, Augusta Graduate

“Before enrolling in school, I never really felt like I was doing what I should be doing.”

Bonnie, Florence Student

“I am motivated by the students. I am constantly reminded that everyone is reaching for something.”

Kelly, Pensacola Instructor

“I am the oldest of five kids. At a young age my mother got sick, and I had to step up to the plate.”

Lauren, Austin Student

“My motivation is my six-year-old daughter. To know that this little person is depending on me for everything makes me want to work that much harder and strive that much more for success.”

Lakesha, Savannah Student

“I wanted better for my children and to show them there’s always something to learn.”

Laura, Jacksonville Student

“I gave up partying late at night to study late at night. And all the hard work paid off.”

Yesica, ChattanoogaGraduate

“I chose Business Administration because I wanted to fully understand owning and operating a business. I am very independent and very curious.”

Cronyn, Charleston Student

“It’s never too late to go back and finish your degree!”

Almarina, Shreveport Graduate

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Fred, Richmond Student

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Kennesha, Huntsville Graduate

“I wanted to do something with my life that would make both my children and my mother proud.”

Jasmine, Spartanburg Student

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Kumesia, Jacksonville Graduate

“The proudest moment in my life is that after I had my son, I returned to finish my schooling.”

Ryan, Charleston Student