2018 Scholarship Winner

Essay

Kira A.

South Carolina is involved in an epidemic. Many controlled substances and prescribed medications are being diverted not only on the streets, but also the workplace. Through my course of study I plan to learn how to make change on a larger scale. While I know I can make a significant impact once I complete my education, I am making a difference now through the help of my senior thesis research on the misuse of controlled substances. Along with my mentor who is a practicing pharmacist, I am working within South Carolina to have drug take-back programs available to citizens that allow them to safely dispose of unwanted medication. I am on a mission to decrease the death and hospitalization rate of people who unintentionally overdose on medications. Last year, I traveled to 4 rural counties in SC in an effort to persuade law enforcement officials to implement drug disposal sites. During my studies, I hope to network with other experienced personnel who can aid me in the continuation of the research that I have already started. This epidemic will take more than a simple vaccine to save those suffering from the effects. A large portion of the rising situation is a lack of education on how each person can contribute the reduction of diversion. For many years, people have put the responsibility of disposal and misuse on medical professionals when in reality the issue can be solved starting in our own homes. Already I spend about two hours per week finding more research on the implications of this problem. As I start my studies directly after high school at MUSC College of Pharmacy, I realize the course load will be rigorous, but as I continue to work on this thesis in addition to my schoolwork I hope to gain more knowledge on time management. There has never been research done in South Carolina regarding the impact of drug take-back programs on opioid misuse, so I wish use this information to reduce this epidemic in South Carolina. Receiving this scholarship would be an investment back into our state because through the course of my study I wish to learn skills of communication and leadership to head a project big enough to make a significant decrease in opioid overdose within South Carolina.