Meet the Crisafi Scholars Class of 2021

Andrew Asante

Andrew Asante

As a Crisafi Scholar, I would like to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation for your generosity and support of the pharmacy students at the University of Florida.

I am Andrew Asante from Ghana, West Africa. I am the first person in my family to attend professional school in the United States so this scholarship means a lot to me. I love the profession of pharmacy because I am passionate about understanding how medications work to improve the health of patients. I hope to be an oncology pharmacist to manage the therapy and treatments for cancer patients.

I am humbled and proud to be a Crisafi Scholar at the University of Florida. This scholarship will help ease my financial burden in pharmacy school and create an enabling environment for me to focus on my academic goals.

Thank you.
Andrew Asante

Crisafi Scholars 2021 - Tara Gilliland

Tara Gilliland

Dear Dr. Crisafi,

As a Crisafi Scholar, I would like to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation for your generosity and support of the pharmacy students at the University of Florida.

My name is Tara Gilliland and I am from Mandeville, Louisiana. I attended Louisiana State University and received a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry. Most of my family members are pharmacists and they all attended the University of Florida College of Pharmacy. I have always been passionate about pharmacy as a career because it is a family tradition and I love learning about how medications work in the body. My favorite courses that I took in my undergraduate career were Organic Chemistry and the biochemistry courses. This made me confident about choosing pharmacy as a career. I am mostly interested in being a clinical pharmacist but as I have done more research on the field, I am not sure on which path I will take after pharmacy school. I am very excited to have the opportunity to attend the University of Florida and learn all about the pharmacy profession from this great program!

Receiving the Crisafi Scholarship was great news and I am very honored that I was one of 8 chosen entering freshmen. This scholarship will greatly reduce the financial burden that the cost of pharmacy school will have on me. This will reduce some of the stress of entering pharmacy school and ease my transition. Thank you for this opportunity.

Respectfully,
Tara Gilliland

Crisafi Scholars 2021 - Elise Heiman

Elise Heiman

Dr. Crisafi,

As a Crisafi Scholar, I would like to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation for your generosity and support of the pharmacy students at the University of Florida.

From a young age, science has always fascinated me. When I entered college, my passion continued to grow and become more focused, as I began to pursue a degree in Biology at UF. This growing passion led me to aspire to pursue my degree as a Doctor of Pharmacy. While my love of science has not dwindled over the years, my compassion and desire to pursue a career that directly helps other people has grown. Through my experiences in college I found that pharmacy is a career that perfectly combines my two greatest passions in life: science and helping other people. As a person constantly looking for ways to improve myself and develop as a person, pharmacy with the potential for new developments, research, and career growth calls for exactly those qualities. Together these factors allowed me to decide that pharmacy was the best possible path I could follow to feel fulfilled in the workplace. In the future, I aspire to get a residency in order to pursue a career as an Intensive Care Unit pharmacist. I know that my education at the UF College of Pharmacy will allow me to accomplish my goals and ensure that my future plans will be come a reality.

Receiving this scholarship is a high honor because not only does it provide financial support that assists me in pursuing my ambitions, but it also distinguishes me from my peers as a Crisafi Scholar. This motivates me to continue to strive for academic excellence, so that I earn the title that I am so proud to hold. In addition to motivating me academically, this scholarship humbled me and showed me that hard work and dedication truly pay off. I am inspired by this to continue to work hard at my passions, not only academically but also personally and philanthropically. It motivated to constantly strive to be the best version of myself, and for that I am thankful. This scholarship has provided me with the opportunity to pursue an incredible education at one of the most prestigious institutions in the country and given me a confidence and motivation to reach all of my goals.

Once again, thank you for providing me with this scholarship and allowing me to accomplish my goals and become the best version of myself.

Respectfully,
Elise Heiman

Crisafi Scholars 2021 - Heba Khatib

Heba Khatib

Dear Dr. Bob Crisafi,

As a Crisafi Scholar, I would like to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation for your generosity and support of the pharmacy students at the University of Florida. I will make sure that your impact on this world will expand and reach further people as I graduate from the College of Pharmacy in 2021.

On the twelfth of December of 2011, I came back to the United States after I left its culture and language all behind for ten years. I arrived in the second semester of my senior year in high school where I had no time to adapt to or learn the college application process. I thought I was going to fall behind. Thankfully, that was not the case. Along my journey, I met amazing people whom were able to help me and get me up to speed with what I needed to know to succeed. Those few people are the ones whom I owe what I accomplished today to.

I was introduced to the University of Connecticut by coincidence, through a friend. Then, I was informed of the FAFSA by a teacher. Most important were the individuals whom financially supported me through scholarships. As I will hold my bachelors as a chemistry graduate on the nineteenth of this month, I owe it to those people that paved the way for me to work hard and get here.

In the future, I want to be the one that paves the way for others and helps them become the best version of themselves. Through alleviating physical pain I am hoping to achieve my goal. I am planning on attending the College of Pharmacy at the University of Florida and learn how to become the best pharmacist I can be. I want to pursue a career in research and drug development. Most importantly, I want to care for others.

Dr. Bob Crisafi, you are one of the few people that had a major impact on my decision. As I was deciding which school to attend and thinking whether pharmacy is really what I want to do for the rest of my life, your scholarship was a caring hand that was by my side through this critical time in my career. Neither a Thank You letter, nor a Thank You book would enable to me to express my gratitude. I can only hope, one day, to be the caring hand for others as you were for me.

Your time and effort are very much appreciated.

Sincerely,
Heba Khatib

Crisafi Scholars 2021 - Justin Collins

Justin Collins

As a Crisafi Scholar, I would like to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation for your generosity and support of the pharmacy students at the University of Florida.

I am a student coming from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where I will be receiving my Bachelor of Science in Chemistry at the conclusion of this spring semester. I knew I wanted to attend pharmacy school when I realized that I had a natural aptitude towards the sciences of Biology and Chemistry along with a desire for a future in healthcare. Pharmacy school will be an excellent fit for me and will give me an incredible opportunity to find success. The University of Florida stood out to me as not only a prestigious and well-respected university, but also as a center for innovation and new ideas in the healthcare field. Upon receiving admission to this school, I did not hesitate to accept. In the future I hope to take my education into the field of pharmaceutical research and help discover new ways to treat patients.

This scholarship came as the most astonishing news after my admission. As a student coming from the other side of the country this scholarship will aid me personally. I will be moving to a new city and this scholarship will bring tremendous relief as I begin this new journey. The funds that this scholarship provides towards my tuition will help me achieve my goal of graduation from the University of Florida College of Pharmacy and using my education to make the world a better place. This scholarship also instills in me a sense of confidence knowing that you also believe in my dreams and in me.

Again I would like to thank you for your kind generosity in selecting me as a Crisafi Scholar.

Sincerely,
Justin Collins

Crisafi Scholars 2021 - Rebecca Soderholm

Rebecca Soderholm

Dr. Crisafi,

As a Crisafi Scholar, I would like to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation for your generosity and support of the pharmacy students at the University of Florida.

My name is Rebecca Soderholm and I am honored and humbled to have been chosen as a Crisafi Scholar. I graduated from the University of Central Florida in May 2016 with a B.S. in Biology and a B.S. in Psychology both with honors. My desire to pursue a pharmacy education stems from my interest in bettering the welfare of others and from the diversity of pharmacy as a profession . For me, pharmacy school is the first step towards achieving my long term personal and professional goals. I have always known that I wanted to work with and serve other people. Through my undergraduate education, I explored different options and found that pharmacy is  my professional calling. The many facets of the profession, from research to clinical to academic, guarantee that I will have the opportunity to pursue an area of pharmacy that best fits with my skills and aspirations while also working alongside people with diverse educational and training backgrounds. As of now, I hope to see myself completing a PGYl  and PGY2 residency in the future and would like to one day practice geriatric pharmacy. My personal experience as a caregiver for my grandmother really opened up my heart and mind to this particular area of practice. Her struggle with Alzheimer’s disease was what drove me to deeply consider a career in the healthcare field and what ultimately lead me to pharmacy as a profession. As such, I hope to one day find myself practicing in an area of pharmacy that enables me to serve and care for patients like my grandmother.

This scholarship has touched me deeply. I have put a great deal of time and effort into my education and receiving this honor has really helped me to take a step back and appreciate how  far I have come towards achieving my goals. The scholarship represents a milestone in both my academic and personal journeys.  Beyond being a great honor and reminder of what it took for me to get to this point, it also serves to further motivate me as I prepare to begin the next chapter of my educational journey.  Attending professional  school requires a great financial burden and having this opportunity for some relief makes me all the more thankful to you.It is hard to find the right words to express the depths of my gratitude. The monetary aspects of this honor will allow me to focus more on my academics and help to remove some of the stress from my pharmacy school journey. As I prepare to transition into my new role as a pharmacy student I cannot help but be grateful and humbled for this welcoming into the UF family. I look forward to the future and the work that lies ahead of me as a pharmacy  student and Crisafi Scholar.

With sincere thanks and appreciation,
Rebecca Soderholm

Crisafi Scholars 2021 - Hunter Thomas

Hunter Thomas

Dear Dr. Bob Crisafi,

As a Crisafi Scholar, I would like to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation for your generosity and support of the pharmacy students at the University of Florida.

I grew up in a small town in Northern Kentucky. Throughout some of middle school and all of high school, I was a Special Olympics Cheerleading coach to many athletes with a variety of disabilities. The disabilities varied from athlete to athlete, therefore the medication regimen varied as well. It was very fascinating to see how each unique medication regimen worked with each athlete. This is what initially sparked my interest in pursuing a career in the field of pharmacy.

I moved away from home and got a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology at Florida State University in August 2016. Throughout the summer leading up to graduation and throughout this past year, I have worked as a Pharmacy Technician at Publix. I have learned an incredible amount about the field and it has only made my love for pharmacy grow deeper. I hope to get experience in a few different fields of pharmacy during the next four years, such as hospital work as well as research. I would love to specialize in pediatrics.

I am so honored to receive this scholarship. I am also very thankful because it will help me tremendously with my pharmacy school expenses. It is helping to bring me one step closer to achieving my dream of becoming a pharmacist.

Thank you,
Hunter Thomas

Crisafi Scholars 2021 - Jin Cheng

Jin Cheng

My name is Jin Cheng and I am one of the recipients of the Crisafi Scholarship for the class of 2021. I wish I could meet you all in person and express my gratitude for your kindness because I believe it will make a tremendous impact in my first year of Pharmacy school. I wanted to go into the Pharmacy profession because of my desire to help people and to bring positive changes in our current healthcare. Never did I imagine that I would be receiving help from others during my journey there. I feel extremely indebted to all of those who donated. With this scholarship, I was able to reduce my financial burden and attend one of the top ten pharmacy schools as an out-of-state student. I feel less pressure to secure a part-time job during my P1 year and look forward to focusing my energy on my studies, student activities, and participation in research.

The existence of the Crisafi Scholarship and the number of people who helped raise the funds for it show the abundant amount of support that UF has for its students. I am constantly reassured of my decision to attend UF because I know that I will have the guidance to succeed and to find my niche in the Pharmacy profession. In return, I also want to reassure all of those who contributed to the scholarship by agreeing to always strive to become the best pharmacy student/pharmacist that I can be. I guarantee you that I will always remember your kindness and pay it forward in the future years.

Thank you all for your help!

Best regards,
Jin Cheng

Meet the Crisafi Scholars Class of 2020

Gustavo Alvira-Arill

Dear Dr. Bob Crisafi,

My name is Gustavo Rey Alvira-Arill and I was recently accepted into the University of Florida’s College of Pharmacy for the Fall 2016 semester.  Shortly after being accepted by the university, I received a letter informing me that I received a scholarship in response to your scholarship challenge.  If it were not for you, alumni, and friends of the College of Pharmacy, I would not have been graced with the financial opportunity to further my education.

My desire to become a pharmacist stems back to when I was diagnosed with type one diabetes when I was twelve years old.  Dealing with my diagnosis was stressful both physically and emotionally; however, with the care of physicians and pharmacists, I have been able to overcome and make the best out of my disease.  However, there are others who deal with other physiological disorders, where unlike with diabetes and insulin, who do not have readily available treatment plans.  Hence, I have  decided to become an investigational pharmacist to ensure that the production and trialing of new drugs for patients with the aforementioned diseases yields fruitful results to give patients better clinical outcomes.

With the University of Florida’s College of Pharmacy being one of the top ten pharmacy schools in the nation, it is with little surprise that it did not take very long for me to accept their offer of admission.  In addition, thanks to your efforts along with the rest of the participating alumni, your challenge has raised scholarships funds for me and other aspiring pharmacists.  I will make the very best of my time at UF’s College of Pharmacy and dedicate myself to improving patients’ clinical outcomes.

Sincerely,
Gustavo Rey Alvira-Arill

Hanna Harper

Dear Dr. Crisafi,

My name is Hanna Harper and I am currently living in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to finish my last semester of pre requisites.  I have always known that I wanted to do something in the medical field, but the thought of bllod and surgeries did not appeal to me.  I began to research pharmacy, and I have known that I wanted to be a pharmacist since I was fourteen years old.  Though I have known for a while that I wanted to be a pharmacist, it was not until recently that I figured out what kind.  Last semester I took a genetics class, and both my professor and TA left a lasting impression on me.  I was inspired to look for a way to incorporate both pharmacy and genetics, and that is how I first stumbled upon the University of Florida and Pharmacogenomics.  Since visiting the campus and seeing the research center in March, I knew that the University of Florida was the place I needed to be.  I know that I will be challenged, supported, and will grow with the best students and staff in the field.  If it were not for you and the generous scholarship I probably would not be able to attend the University of Florida.  I absolutely cannot wait to be a Gator!

In order to get myself ready for pharmacy school I have attempted to immerse myself in different aspects of pharmacy.  I remember being a freshman in college walking around the first few days and looking at all the different tables for things you could participate in, and I was fortunate enough to run into the Pre-Pharmacy table.  I have been an active member now for two years and have been the secretary for one.  Through being involved with this amazing organization I have been exposed to amazing speakers, opportunities, and community service events all with a focus on pharmaceutic advancement.  I also worked with the New Mexico Public Research Group on their campaign to end the overuse on antibiotics on factory farms, where I was able to meet local farmers, small business owners, and healthcare professionals and see the true impact that the pharmaceutical field has on all aspects of life.  Most recently, I have become a Pharmacy Technician at CVS Pharmacy, and have been learning what being a retail pharmacist entails.  I love to see how my Pharmacists act with our customers and to see what medications are commonly prescribed as well as what they are used for.  Though I have greatly benefited and grown from these experiences my heart still lies with research.  I had the amazing experience of being the New Mexico representative for the Stockholm Junior Water Prize science competition.  The idea that I can ask my own questions and find answers to them is extremely rewarding and something I want to do with the rest of my life.  Florida’s innovative labs are the main reason I applied to the school in the first place.  Now that I have the chance to work in them, I never want to look back.  Thank you so much for your financial support.  It means the absolute world to me.

Sincerely,
Hanna Harper

John Wang-Hu

Dear Dr. Crisafi,

Thank you for putting forth the Crisafi Challenge in raising money to help support the recruitment of eager future pharmacists such as myself.  I will try my best in representing the likes of a Crisafi Scholar.  I will use the scholarship money wisely to help further my greatest endeavor to becoming an illumanitive pharmacist in this ever expanding health field.

Sincerely,
John Wang-Hu

Joanna Longueira

Dear Dr. Crisafi,

I was recently informed of my selection to be a proud recipient of the Bob Crisafi Challenge Scholarship.  I am writing to you today to express my immense gratitude and appreciation for your efforts and consideration.

In preparation for y future as a Gator pharmacist, I obtained a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Florida with a double major in Biology and Psychology. It was throughout my time and involvement as an undergraduate at UF that I came to discover a passion for pharmacy.  To further develop this passion, I became a medical researcher at Shands Hospital, a supplemental instructor for biochemistry, and a pharmacy technician at a CVS pharmacy by campus. Together, these extracurricular activities along with my rigorous undergraduate coursework have molded me into a competent leader, scientist and caregiver. I am confident that these roles I play will allow me to excel in my future as a Gator Pharmacist.

In August, I will be begin my pharmacy education in the Orlando campus at the University of Florida. Currently, I am most interested in pursuing a career in clinical pharmacy due to my many years of hospital-based volunteering, research and shadowing. However, I am open to other areas of pharmacy and I am confident that my time at the University of Florida will prepare me for whichever path I choose.

As I embark on my journey to become a pharmacist,  I am especially grateful to benefactors like yourself who make high-quality education possible for capable applicants who are less able to afford it. I believe that the Crisafi Challenge is an exceptional method for raising funds by the combined effort of alumni and friends and I would like to thank you personally for your added generosity of matching all donations in order to double the scholarship funds. It really is people like you who make the pharmacy profession a prestigious and exciting career. Receiving these funds from the Crisafi Challenge Scholarship will undoubtedly allow me to make the most of my time at UF and explore all possible pharmacy professions and for these opportunities, I am extremely grateful. Your donation has made me all the more excited to start realizing my dreams of becoming a pharmacist!

Sincerely,
Joanna Longueira

Madeleine Morin

Dear Dr. Crisafi,

Thank you so much for the generous scholarship to the University of Florida College of Pharmacy.  I am excited to continue being a part of the Gator Nation, as I attend UF for my Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry.  I loved volunteering at the pharmacy at Shands in preparation for my path as a pharmacist and look forward to my upcoming endeavors at the Orlando campus.  My goal is to become a pediatric pharmacist, and your financial support will help me to achieve this dream.  Thank you for helping me pursue a path where my passion lies; I am excited to see what the future holds.

Sincerely,
Madeleine Morin

Lia Argevani

Dear Dr. Crisafi,

I have recently been notified that I have been awarded the Bob Crisafi Challenge Scholarship and I would like to sincerely thank you for providing me with this opportunity to facilitate my pharmacy education.  I am truly honored that I have been chosen for this scholarship.  I currently attend the University of Florida as a second year undergraduate student but I have no declared major because I opted to apply for pharmacy school without a Bachelor’s degree.  I had been working industriously the last several years in order to make my goal of getting accepted into pharmacy school a reality, and a few months ago, I was notified that I had been admitted into my first choice school, the University College of Pharmacy.

I have known that I wanted to pursue a career in pharmacy for the last 3 or 4 years because I always viewed pharmacists as cornerstones in the healthcare industry, working alongside doctors to ensure safe and effective patient care. When I started school at the University of Florida, I began exploring different fields in pharmacy to see what I specifically wanted to pursue.  I worked at the University of Florida Veterinary Hospital pharmacy where I was able to observe both inpatient and outpatient pharmacy procedures.  Over one summer, I also worked as a Clinical Research Intern at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL.   While there, I conducted research on recurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma following liver transplant, where I was able to investigate various immunosupressive drugs and gained insight about pharmacy in the hospital setting.  However, the experience that impacted me the most was shadowing pharmacists involved in the antimicrobial stewardship program at the UF Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Florida.  This experience provided me with insight on the importance of making sure drugs are used responsibly to minimize resistance and ensure future patients may benefit as well.  I currently plan to focus my career in this area after obtaining my PharmD degree but I am also looking forward to exploring different options in pharmacy school.

Once again, I would like to thank you for your generosity and support of the students of the UF College of Pharmacy.  I am very much looking forward to studying pharmacy at this very prestigious college.  Go Gators!

Sincerely,
Lia Argevani
Doctor of Pharmacy Candidate 2020

Emma Lodl

Dr. Crisafi,

I want to begin by sincerely thanking you for your generosity.  I am honored that you have chosen to help financially support my pharmacy education and I plan to use this scholarship to its full potential by immersing myself in my journey to become a pharmacist.  I greatly look forward to the next four years and am eager to accept the challenging curriculum at such an elite school.  So that you can know me on a more personal level, I would like to tell you about myself and why I chose pharmacy as my future career.

When I first started college at the University of Minnesota, I planned on becoming a veterinarian due to my interest in animals.  I shadowed a few vets and came to realize that the reality of the career wasn’t what I was expecting.  My mother is the Pharmacy Director at Aurora Grafton hospital in Wisconsin, and she encouraged me to shadow a staff pharmacist.  I was surprised at my experience with that pharmacist. I learned about his daily routine which included warfarin dosing, attending rounds with other healthcare providers, verifying IV bags and orders electronically, adjusting doses for renal functions and monitoring drug interactions.  After that experience my idea of pharmacy and the role of the pharmacist completely changed and I was incredibly intrigued by the prospect of a career in pharmacy.  After doing some research and talking to my mom, I dove head-first into pursing a career in pharmacy and have had no hesitation about whether it was the right choice.

Currently, I have over 2 years of experience as a pharmacy technician in a retail pharmacy in a low income area in Minneapolis.  I feel like this experience has been the most beneficial to my future career because I have learned so much from the pharmacists and have had the opportunity to interact with patients on a daily basis.  The patient to staff ratio at our pharmacy is not something we can boast about (we are seemingly constantly understaffed) but I believe this environment has challenged me to solve problems, multitask efficiently, and be a leader for less experienced technicians.  I have grown a lot from working at that retail pharmacy and have been able to compare the experience there with my limited experience of shadowing pharmacists in an inpatient setting.

While at the University of Minnesota, I was able to schedule several days of shadowing with different pharmacists at Fairview Hospital on campus.  Of the specialties I shadowed(ICU, NICU, infectious disease, general medicine) I found infectious disease to be the most interesting.  Although I do not yet know exactly what environment or specialty I would like to work in as a pharmacist, I am currently very interested in microbiology and infectious disease.  I am already interested in the research that the University of Florida is conducting on the disruption of biofilms on medical equipment and surgical sights.

During my time at the University of Florida Gainesville campus I plan on engaging in microbiological research and taking advantage of the many resources I will have available to me.  As I stated before, I am so grateful for your investment in my education and will do everything I can to use the money to its fully potential.  Thank you so much for your generosity.  I can say with confidence that I greatly look forward to beginning the next four years of my education and am ready to transition from a Gopher to a Gator!

Sincerely,
Emma Lodl

Briana Ballister

Dear Dr. Crisafi,

I am writing to thank you for creating and sponsoring the Crisafi Challenge scholarships.  As a recipient, I am extraordinarily grateful for your generosity and the initiative you took to create the fund.  Your determination to give back to our school and to promote its excellence is truly admirable.

Though I enthusiastically look forward to beginning my career in pharmacy, my path up to this point has been very non-linear.  I began my undergraduate studies at the United States Naval Academy where I studied English, Japanese, and systems Engineering.  A spinal fracture cut short may navel career and interrupted my studies, leaving me to find a new plan.  After several moves with a husband in the Navy, birth of twin daughters, and a divorce, I found enough stability to refocus.  It was with great joy that, as I completed prerequisites and gained experience, I discovered working toward a career in pharmacy feels like pursuing passion rather than pursuing a degree as I had in the past.  After balancing single-parenthood, maintaining a full-time academic schedule, and working to support the three of us, I am thrilled to be attending the Gainesville campus of the University of Florida College of Pharmacy this fall.

In my time in hospital pharmacy at the University of Virginia Medical Center, I have focused my efforts on transitions of care and improving patient outcomes through the discharge process.  I will be honored to carry on your legacy of commitment to patient care and safety.  I am forever grateful for your support as I begin to build a career you can be proud to have contributed to.

Respectfully and with sincere thanks,
Briana Ballister
UFCOP Class of 2020