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Mariava Phillips
March 8, 2023

Top: Emili Anderson with her mom, Susan Marchant, and step-dad, Jack Marchant. Bottom: Anderson receiving her white coat with the class of 2024.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” A question we’ve all been asked—some with a quick, confident answer and others who discover their passions as they grow. Emili Anderson, Pharm.D. candidate, class of 2024, and current student senate president, found her passion at Carolina. 

As a child, Anderson remembers being drawn to math more so than English or history in school. She shared that her mom, Susan G. Marchant, a double Tar Heel with a B.S. ‘86 and Pharm.D. ‘03, always wanted to talk about science with her. However, pharmacy didn’t become a strong career option until college. 

“Coming to UNC-Chapel Hill was my ultimate goal in high school and luckily I got in and was able to spend my undergrad here,” said Anderson. She found a love for biology at Carolina and her interest in pharmacy started to grow. “Since my mom was a pharmacist, I was able to see her career path and thought that it really aligned with what I wanted to do,” she said.  

In what Anderson calls a “serendipitous moment”, she applied to UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and was surprised to get in. The first semester was a struggle as she initially felt like she didn’t belong, but she credits the community she found for shifting her journey. 

“I feel really grateful for our School and our community because after my first semester I gained so much confidence,” she shared. “Now looking back, I can see how much I’ve grown and, even though I still have more to learn, I know I have the skills and ability to be the best provider I can be.”  

Anderson is now in her third year and on March 4, she received her white coat alongside her class of 124 Pharm.D. candidates. The white coat ceremony symbolizes a student’s transition from the classroom to the pharmacy profession. The School is unique in that students don’t receive their white coat until the end of their third year, whereas most pharmacy schools hand out white coats in the first year.  

“It’s meaningful and special to save the white coat ceremony to after the third year—it shows and celebrates the work we’ve accomplished thus far and sends our cohort out to our placements,” Anderson said.  

This year’s white coat ceremony was special for many reasons, but, specifically for Anderson, she was able to share the moment with her mom.  

“What’s been really special is seeing my mom giving back to the next generation of pharmacists,” she said. Her mom, Marchant, is currently the vice president of UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy Alumni Association. She was honored with the position to lead the class of 2024 in the Oath of Geneva during the ceremony.  

“My daughter entering my own chosen profession is beyond special to me. It validates that hopefully she’s been able to witness the fulfillment and sense of accomplishment that I have gotten from helping patients, which is exactly what the Oath is all about,” said Marchant. “She and her classmates are taking the profession in new and exciting ways that my generation hasn’t even thought of yet. So, in a way, it’s a passing of the torch.” 

Sharing that moment together was exciting for Anderson and has challenged her to think of how she will continue the legacy and give back to the generation of pharmacists after her. 

The white coat ceremony is a significant milestone for pharmacy students, and a chance for everyone to celebrate how far they’ve come. “I want my class to reflect on how much they’ve accomplished. This journey that we have all been on is very challenging –personally, financially, professionally – it’s taken a commitment to yourself and your goal to have a career in pharmacy,” said Anderson. 

For those students who received a white coat and will be serving the North Carolina community through their fourth-year placements, Anderson concludes, “You are now one step closer to accomplishing your dreams.” 

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