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Pharmacy student wins national public-health award

By Luanne Williams

Wingate graduate student Jocelyn Davenport is one of 90 pharmacy students from across the nation to be awarded the Excellence in Public Health Pharmacy Award from the Pharmacist Professional Advisory Committee of the United States Public Health Service.

The award recognizes pharmacy students who have made significant contributions to public health by promoting wellness and healthy communities. Nominees are evaluated on the work they have done to address an emerging public health issue, to advance the surgeon general’s priorities, or to support national initiatives such as Healthy People 2030.

“Jocelyn has a very effervescent personality; she’s a real go-getter who loves interacting with people,” says pharmacy professor Carolyn Ford, the University’s director of community healthcare outreach, who nominated Davenport for the award. “It’s also important to note that Jocelyn is a single mom of two children who, in addition to attending pharmacy school full time and working a part-time job, makes time to participate in various community-outreach projects.”

Davenport, who is from Atlanta, was among a handful of students chosen for Wingate’s Covid-19 Education Taskforce, which also involves faculty, staff and local health department officials. Last fall, the group targeted areas of the county with high social-vulnerability-index ratings and low vaccination rates. To incentivize residents to talk with them about the vaccine, taskforce members offered Covid goody bags containing a reusable mask, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, a healthy snack bar, a canned food item, and informative handouts about the virus, vaccines, testing locations and vaccination sites.

Dr. Ford says Davenport was instrumental in assembling a large percentage of the hundreds of bags the task force put together each week. Davenport motivated other students to help prepare the goody bags and modeled volunteerism to her children, recruiting them to prepare more than 100 bags at home.

“She single-handedly educated the largest percentage of residents at a busy Walmart Supercenter during one encounter,” Dr. Ford wrote in her nomination letter. “She also distributed 20 percent of the goody bags to canvassed neighborhoods.”

“During one event, she was a whirlwind of activity setting the tone on how to approach clients and how to do it quickly in a meaningful way,” the professor added. “She also took the initiative to share her techniques with other students to help them overcome their inhibitions so they could have positive interactions with clients as well.”

Davenport has no qualms about approaching strangers. 

“I’m a real people person,” she says. “I want to help the community and make sure everyone has a chance at living a long and healthy life.”

Davenport is in her third year of pharmacy school at Wingate. She was recently tapped for the Scholars Program, a training track for P-4 students who plan to pursue postgraduate residencies.

Her interest in healthcare, which began as a general desire to help people, narrowed to pharmacy when she began working as a pharmacy technician. At her part-time job, she is responsible for community wellness events.

“I enjoy doing community events and screenings with my company on wellness days, as this gives our local community access to immunizations, free blood-pressure and glucose screenings, and different education materials,” Davenport told Dr. Ford. “In addition to getting a residency, another goal is to continue working with public health, as I really enjoyed our community-outreach events and being accessible to talk and answer questions within the community.”

The work of Wingate's Covid-19 Education Task Force was funded by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina and the Food Lion Feeds Charitable Foundation.

Learn more about studying pharmacy or public health (bachelors or masters) at Wingate.

April 20, 2022