WSU Pharmacy Students Andrea Fernandez and Yedesdes Shiferaw Named Bill Gaskins Pharmacy Scholarship Recipients

Sep 30, 2014

The Bill Gaskins Pharmacy Scholarship, established in 2013, honors Bill Gaskins, Washington State University alumnus, instructor, mentor, WSU Athletic Hall of Fame inductee and Director of Pullman Regional Hospital Pharmacy of 43 years.

“Bill’s leadership, willingness to embrace technology and his connections to the WSU College of Pharmacy helped the Pullman Regional Hospital pharmacy become a critical piece of our healthcare team,” said Pullman Regional Hospital CEO, Scott Adams.

Upon his retirement from Pullman Regional Hospital after 43 years of service, money was raised through the Pullman Regional Hospital Foundation to establish the Gaskins Scholarships to honor Bill and assist Pharmacy student interns and residents training in rural pharmacy. The Bill Gaskins Pharmacy Scholarship builds upon a long-standing legacy of Pullman Regional Hospital serving as a site for WSU Pharmacy students to complete clinical rotations. Scholarships in the amount of $2,500 are awarded to eligible applicants each semester to assist with tuition, fees, books, travel and living expenses.

The scholarship is supported by hospital employees and the community. “Bill Gaskins has rightfully been honored by the Pullman community with the establishment of the Bill Gaskins Scholarships.  Bill is a caring, positive, professional and patient-focused pharmacist; a long time mentor to WSU College of Pharmacy students; a city leader; a Cougar track and football athlete; a great friend to many; and, most importantly, a loving husband and father,” said  Keith Campbell, a long-time colleague of Gaskins and Distinguished Professor in Diabetes Care & Pharmacotherapy at WSU.

To be eligible for the Gaskins Scholarship, applicants must be accepted to, or enrolled in, a WSU program leading to a degree or certificate in Pharmacy or allied health, be in good academic standing with the Washington State University, have completed a minimum 30 volunteer hours with the Pullman Regional Hospital Pharmacy department, and show evidence of intent to practice pharmacy in a rural environment or provide services to underserved populations.

Washington State University College of Pharmacy students, Andrea Fernandez and Yedesdes Shiferaw are the first recipients of the $2,500 scholarship for the fall 2014 semester.

Born and raised in the Philippines, Fernandez seeks to fulfill a lifetime goal by earning a leadership role as a hospital pharmacist so she can give back by serving the underprivileged in her place of birth. “I grew up in a country where good healthcare was only for the people who could afford it. The hardships that I experienced in the Philippines inspire me to work harder for my dreams. My perseverance and motivation guide me as I find my way towards a successful career in a pharmacy,” Andrea wrote in her statement of intent.

Upon graduating, Fernandez plans to further her education through a postgraduate program in a hospital pharmacy. She looks forward to a two-year residency program to gain knowledge and experience in hospital pharmacy in the specialty areas of oncology and infectious disease. Fernandez believes an international rotation in Vietnam will also provide her opportunities to help those in need.

For Shiferaw, a natural curiosity sparked a deep interest in the inner workings of the human body and love of science. She was born in a small village in Ethiopia and would accompany her mother to the hospital where she worked as an office assistant. Upon moving to the United States and pursuing a college degree, Shiferaw said an article about a U.K. Pharmacist working with Red Cross who traveled to different countries to supply medications and ensure people received optimal drug treatment inspired her to pursue pharmacy. “My long-term goal is to give back to the community as a health care provider and work with underserved populations. I plan to work with either Red Cross or Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) and provide the best health care for people that are less fortunate like people in third world countries,” said Shiferaw in her application.

Volunteering and employment in both retail and hospital pharmacy settings, has given Shiferaw appreciation and respect for the fields of clinical and retail pharmacies. “As a pharmacist I would like to work in a clinical setting where I can challenge myself with different patient cases, have a close interaction with patients and expand my knowledge by being involved in clinical research,” said Shiferaw.

Andrea Howell, Director of Pullman Regional Hospital Pharmacy, said both women are deserving of this scholarship. Thoughtful and observant, both students expressed a strong desire to learn during their time volunteering in the hospital pharmacy. Howell emphasizes the importance of recruiting and retaining high quality providers in rural and underserved areas. “Pharmacists commonly serve a gatekeeper role as a healthcare expert that is accessible. Few other fields in healthcare provide immediate access to an expert with just one phone call,” said Howell.

Howell said scholarship assistance can play a significant role in supporting students to help relieve the financial burden of travel and living expenses accrued through the valuable experience of rotations. “This is a commitment Pullman Regional Hospital and our community proudly fulfill. As a former student of Bill’s, I believe it’s a perfect way to honor his legacy of fostering an environment of learning and share his heart for the underserved.”

Applications for the 2015 spring semester are due by October 15, 2014. For more information, please contact Pullman Regional Hospital Foundation (509) 332-2046.


Date Posted: October 3, 2014
Contact: Alison Weigley, Assistant Director of Development, External Relations & Marketing
Pullman Regional Hospital Foundation

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