Honorary College of Pharmacy Student for a Day


As class begins at the UT College of Pharmacy in Knoxville, chatter quiets down, and students turn toward the front of the classroom. Scanning the students, there are white coats and professional attire in every seat in the room, except the very first seat on the very front row. That is where you will find the pink, purple, and glitter attire today. “Pink and purple and glitter are my favorite colors,” 9-year-old Meghan McCarty said, which is exactly the colors of her outfit. Meghan wore her pinkest, most purple, most glittery dress for her visit to the College of Pharmacy on February 19. The Dogwood Elementary student, who has mild cerebral palsy and autism, won her school’s spelling bee, which earned her a spot in the Southern Appalachia Regional Spelling Bee in March. Word got back to the College of Pharmacy that Meghan wants to be a pharmacist and a lawyer when she grows up so she was invited for a visit.

“One of the professors sent me the story that was on the Knoxville News Sentinel website about Meghan’s accomplishment, and I just knew we needed to bring her here,” said David Bolton, administrative assistant at the College of Pharmacy. Working with Dr. Debbie Byrd, Associate Dean, David emailed Dogwood Elementary’ s principal to get in touch with Meghan’s parents. Tiffany McCarty, Meghan’s mother, said she was so grateful for the opportunity to visit. “If Meghan were approached by the Make-A-Wish Foundation, this would be her wish,” said Mrs. McCarty. “I’m pretty sure she’d choose the College of Pharmacy over Disneyworld.”

Meghan, her mom and her dad, Dan McCarty, started the day with a tour of the College of Pharmacy building at the University of Tennessee Medical Center. Then, they joined the Class of 2015 for a lecture in Medication Therapy Management about diabetes. “Uncle Steve is pre-diabetic. I’m going to give him some tips!” said Meghan after the lecture.

Meghan is certainly well on her way to being able to counsel patients about their medications. At lunch with some P2 student pharmacists, her mother said she has over a hundred drugs memorized already, and she loves looking up new drugs on her iPad. “She will have the diabetes lecture handouts memorized before she goes to bed tonight,” said Mrs. McCarty. Meghan said she wants to run 1-800-BAD-DRUGS one day, and she impressed the students with her knowledge of her two favorite drugs. “My favorites are Abilify because it makes you happy, and Intermezzo because it helps you fall asleep if I wake up in the middle of the night,” said Meghan.

Mrs. McCarty expressed to the students how proud she is of Meghan. “She has come so far,” said Mrs. McCarty. “Just a few years ago, she would not have been able to talk to a crowd like this because of her autism.” Meghan is certainly the life of the party now. Not only can she spell aloud flawlessly, she can tell a good joke and get the whole room laughing. “I love Meghan’s overall flair,” said P2 student pharmacist Camellia Davis. Before Meghan’s visit at the College of Pharmacy ended, she gave the students one piece of advice in the form of a joke. “Why should you never take a test at a zoo?” asked Meghan. “Because there are cheetahs there!”

– By Elly Baker, Student Pharmacist