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March 28, 2006

ULM Pharmacy Student Nationally Recognized for Volunteer Efforts

A University of Louisiana at Monroe third-year pharmacy student recently received national recognition for her volunteer efforts during the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Candace Thibodeaux of Lake Arthur received the Wal-Mart Pharmacy/Pharmacy Times RESPy (Respect, Excellence, and Service in Pharmacy) Award at the American Pharmacist Association National Meeting held March 17-21 in San Francisco, Calif.

Thibodeaux credits the entire ULM pharmacy department for her recent recognition. “Many ULM pharmacy students and faculty members helped, which was wonderful.  It took all of us to accomplish what we did.”

Shortly after Hurricane Katrina hit in late August, Thibodeaux began tirelessly working alongside fellow ULM Pharmacy students in the Monroe Civic Center at a make-shift pharmacy, which served a majority of the 2,000 hurricane survivors.

One particular experience stands out in her mind. An elderly man approached Thibodeaux with an eyeglass prescription. “He was practically blind, very febrile and listless, and I knew from the tone of his voice, he was in a lot of distress,” Thibodeaux remembered.

Thibodeaux drove the man to a Monroe eye shop and stayed with him until he received his glasses. “There was no way I was going to let this man continue on without being able to see.  His glasses had fallen off him as he was being rescued from his rooftop; he had nothing with him,” she recalled. “I spent the afternoon with this man, and talked to him and tried to console him as best as I could.  It was an emotional experience I will never forget.”

Thibodeaux, along with other ULM Pharmacy students, continued to volunteer after September’s Hurricane Rita hit. Thibodeaux, who also hosted a displaced family in her home following the hurricanes, said her experiences inspired her.

“It was very difficult, to say the least, but the entire experience has made me realize how much I am truly blessed to have been given what I have, and the drive to keep going when things are at their breaking point,” she said.

“The entire experience has confirmed why I want to be a pharmacist.  I am ready to commit to the service of others who need my help and who may be less fortunate than me.  One person can truly make a difference, whether small or large; it only matters to the person receiving assistance.”

Thibodeaux, along with the ULM College of Pharmacy, is featured in the April edition of Pharmacy Times. Thibodeaux’s award includes a $1,000 scholarship.

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