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Mariava Phillips
May 13, 2024

The Class of 2024.

The UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy celebrated the Class of 2024 on May 10 at Memorial Hall during commencement. The School honored 118 Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.), 27 Master of Science (M.S.), and 12 Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) students.  

For one student, Taysir Chamem, Pharm.D., it marked the end of an unexpected journey. 

“I would have never guessed that I would end up pursuing pharmacy, but that shows how you never know where you’re going to end up and that everything works out how it’s supposed to,” Chamem said.  

Originally from Indiana, she grew up with a high value on education. Her mom immigrated from Morocco and her dad from Tunisa—both encouraged their kids to take advantage of all the educational opportunities the U.S. has to offer. 

Chamem studied biochemistry and nutrition sciences at Indiana University thinking she would end up at medical school. However, her dad became ill, and she decided to move back home after graduation to support her family. During that time, she says she “lucked” into an industry job for a contract research organization as an associate scientist, focused specifically on drug development.  

“I loved everything about it and trained amongst all the groups on the site,” she said. “I wanted to learn as much as possible, and eventually I hit the ceiling of what I could learn.” 

She transitioned to being a clinical research associate at the same company where she managed clinical trials, but she felt it was time to continue her education. A career in industry was her end goal, so Chamem chose to pursue her master’s in pharmacology at Drexel University in Philadelphia. This experience cemented her love for learning about drugs, and pharmacy became her obvious next step. 

Before pharmacy was even on her radar, she always dreamed of working in the Research Triangle, and once she was accepted into the School, that dream was slowly becoming a reality.  

Pharm.D. graduate Taysir Chamem with her family after commencement.

With a specific career in mind, she was excited to explore all industry role options during her Pharm.D. “I found myself going back to clinical development over and over again,” she said. 

Her pharmacy experience drastically changed once she had her son and became a first-time mom between her first and second year. Chamem shared that it was a highlight over the last four years, but it also came with more planning.  

“He is such a great kid and having him helped me focus on what really matters,” she said.  

With her husband’s support and encouragement, she was able to excel throughout her Pharm.D. and is now moving on to pursue her dream with a fellowship in clinical development in the Research Triangle. 

As a student, looking back on what my parents instilled in me while growing up, commencement symbolizes how much they gave up for me to have this opportunity,” she said. “And for me, life happens, you get off course sometimes and you don’t know how you’ll be able to reach your goals. It means a lot to me that I’m finally here, and I’m proud to have done this alongside my family and son—you really can do anything you set your mind to.” 

This year’s commencement keynote speaker was alumnus Neal Fowler, B.S. Pharm ‘84, M.B.A. ‘88. He shared career-learned lessons like being open and adaptable to change and always keeping the patient first when faced with important decisions. He also emphasized that although a career is important, it’s not who a person is—understanding what is most important in one’s life is key in giving purpose. 

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