Applebaum Leadership Development Program supports the next generation of pharmacy leaders

When a family member had taken ill, Obioma Opara '22 saw how the leadership of a pharmacist can make a difference.

"My mother-in-law's pharmacist noticed a drug she had been prescribed could have had a dangerous interaction with another medication she was taking," Opara said. "This one guy caught that, but there are too many other people who do not have someone to notice interactions like that. I believe in trying to make a change, one patient at a time. So hopefully, when I am a pharmacist, I can be 'that one guy' and influence people's lives."

Opara is one of eight 2025 Pharm.D. candidates at Wayne State University's Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences chosen for the prestigious Applebaum Leadership Development Program (ALDP). Each student receives a $5,000 scholarship and will participate in a year-long series featuring seminars, networking opportunities, and leadership lessons from executives and entrepreneurs.

Applebaum Family Philanthropy created ALDP to continue the legacy of the late Eugene Applebaum '60, '98 LL.D., who established one of the largest drug store chains in the United States and became a renowned entrepreneur and leader in the Detroit community. A core aim of Applebaum Family Philanthropy is to inspire a generation of leaders, and ALDP is empowering a new generation of students to start building their own legacies.

Students selected to participate in the ALDP have a history of serving and leading and are passionate about giving back. The following students make up the cohort:

  • Nadeen Abdallah
  • Mohammed Alahmadi
  • Sonya Ali
  • Giang Nguyen
  • Obioma Opara
  • Wiam Ouahab
  • Eliseo Renteria
  • Bryce Vanhorn
  • Francine Salinitri '01, Pharm.D. '03, director of experiential education and clinical professor, coordinates the program along with Associate Dean Susan Davis. She said ALDP will help cultivate highly promising students into the next generation of leaders who embody integrity, innovation and community.

    "Thanks to Applebaum Family Philanthropy's support, these students will have the opportunity to learn together leadership styles, advocacy strategies and professional communication skills that will prepare them for the many career paths available in the profession of pharmacy," Salinitri said.

    Determined to lead

    ADLP helps create a pathway so each student is not on their own. In 2011, Giang Nguyen's college studies in Vietnam came to a halt when her family moved to the United States. She recently enrolled in pharmacy school at the age of 30, and being selected for ALDP has given her the encouragement she needed to continue.

    "When I first started, I was asking, should I even finish pharmacy school? I was so nervous about it," Nguyen said. "Because I received this scholarship, I can show people that I can do it and will finish strong."

    Sonya Ali said she chose to study at Wayne State to serve families like her own who call Detroit home.

    "During undergrad, I was a peer mentor for incoming students, and that really inspired me and made me realize I can make a change in my community: a change in Detroit, where I grew up," Ali said.

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