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Daniel Alexander
November 24, 2022

The Tar Heel Bus Tour stops off at McDowell’s Pharmacy on October 21, 2022, in Scotland Neck, North Carolina. The fourth-generation Tar Heel pharmacy was established in 1901. In this image, pharmacy owner Thomas McDowell (left) talks with Stefanie Ferreri, professor in the Eshelman School of Pharmacy, Leah Cox, vice provost for equity and inclusion, and Aimee Wall, senior associate dean of the School of Government.
(Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill)


The Tar Heel Bus Tour has a long and storied history of introducing faculty and senior administrators to North Carolina. It provides the opportunity to understand the interconnection of the University’s mission and the welfare of the state. In her first time on the 3-day, two-night expedition, Stefanie Ferreri, PharmD, BCACP, FAPhA, Chair of the Division of Practice Advancement and Clinical Education (PACE) traveled to twelve locations on the East tour. While she said the long days were worth it, Stefanie’s reflections on the experience reinforce the value of tour participation for the individual and its lasting impact.

Which tour stop sparked the most conversation?

Every stop sparked conversation for a variety of reasons. We learned about the racial history in NC. After living in NC for 23 years I have read and listened to the news about how communities are separated by race, however, it was a life changing experience to see this in person.

What is the one thing you were surprised to learn about North Carolina?

I learned about the establishment of Freedom Hill in 1865. The courage it took for the freed black men to change the name of the town to Princeville after visiting the state’s capitol was an inspiring story. They fought to name the town Princeville in honor of Turner Prince, an African American man who had been involved in building many of the community’s homes.

As you were introduced to people, ideas, and programs on the tour, did the experience help to inform your work or the School’s?

Definitely! Our visit to the independent pharmacy in Scotland Neck reinforced our commitment to our rural pharmacy health initiative. Many of the faculty who were on the bus with me did not realize the public health efforts that community pharmacies are engaged in. Thomas McDowell introduced them to the term “pharmacy desert” – and many participants had never heard this before. After that visit, many of the bus participants were excited about our work and ideas about collaborations were started.

A goal of the tour was to demonstrate UNC’s impact in the state and commitment to public service. Was the goal achieved?

Absolutely! Getting into our communities to see where our students work, live, pray and stay is extremely important for all faculty to understand. Everyone comes to Chapel Hill having an established community and it is our responsibility to learn about their communities as we develop students as independent and critical thinkers. We need to be curious about their background and encourage them to be curious about what they came to the university to learn.

What are your key takeaways from this experience?

This was a great way to get out of the walls of my office. Not only did I learn about the history of this great state, I interacted with faculty and administrators from so many units across campus. At the end of the day, we are state employees, and it was great to meet so many employees who serve this state in so many ways.

When you are on Tar Heel Bus Tour, it does not matter if you are new to the state, new to the university or have been living here or working here for a long time. You will get a behind the scenes tour of things you may not have realized were in your own backyard.

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