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Makeda Lovelace’s Nontraditional Journey to Pharmacy School: A Tale of Perseverance and Passion

Embarking on the journey to pharmacy school is often fraught with challenges, unexpected turns, and a fair share of resilience. Makeda Lovelace’s path was no different, and her story serves as an inspiration to others considering a similar path. 

Why Pharmacy? 

Makeda’s journey into pharmacy began long before she applied to pharmacy school. Shortly after high school, she joined the Air Force Reserves and trained as an EMT. Thanks to her ROTC experience, she advanced quickly through the ranks. By the time she made E-6 (Technical Sergeant), she needed to retrain to continue advancing. The options were initially lab or admin, but when pharmacy became available, Makeda knew this was the best path for her, allowing her to remain connected with patient care. She followed her passion and instincts, with her family’s unwavering support as a constant source of encouragement. 

Interested in pursuing pharmacy as part of the military? The main requirements for becoming a military pharmacist are similar for all military branches. You can get started in the career by following these steps: 

  • Earn a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) 
  • Obtain your pharmacy license 
  • Meet the minimum entry requirements for the branch of your choice. You can join the military as an officer, depending on experience and age, or as an enlisted member. The age requirement for U.S. officers is from 17 to 35 years. Although pharmacists don’t need overly athletic bodies, physical ability ensures they can handle military training. 
  • Complete an officer training course 
  • Speak to a recruiter for more information and check out:

 Check out this video by the U.S. Air Force to learn more about what it can look like to serve as a military pharmacist:

The Road to Choosing Her School 

After completing her pre-requisites at Mercer University, Makeda set her sights on their College of Pharmacy. Unfortunately, her application was denied. This was a hard pill to swallow, especially since she had been told that completing her pre-requisites there would guarantee at least an interview. Determined to understand why and far from giving up on her desire to become a pharmacist, Makeda reached out to the admissions director. Through their prior conversations, the director explained that while Makeda’s Mercer GPA was solid at 3.3, her overall GPA from all courses she had ever taken did not meet their standards. 

However, the director didn’t leave Makeda without options. She suggested Makeda apply to a few other programs such as the PCOM School of Pharmacy in Suwanee, Georgia and Florida A&M University College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. With renewed determination, Makeda applied to and was accepted by both! Faced with a choice between Suwanee and Gainesville, FL, Makeda chose PCOM to stay closer to home so she could still be there for her middle son who was about to start high school. 

The Highlights and Challenges of Pharmacy School 

Pharmacy school has been an incredible journey for Makeda, tying together everything she has learned over the years. Being one of the few non-traditional students in her class, she brings a diverse and insightful set of experiences to the classroom which Makeda loves sharing with her classmates, “I tell people all the time that I am like the Farmer’s Insurance commercial: ‘I know a thing or 2 because I’ve seen a thing or 2!’”. 

The most challenging aspect of pharmacy school for Makeda is the immense volume of information she needs to absorb. With a daily commute of over an hour, she has had to master time management, often listening to lectures and textbooks in her car. Makeda notes that the ability to review recorded lectures has been a lifesaver, “I love that our lectures are recorded because as I’m taking notes in class, sometimes I miss something, and I can go back and fill in the gaps.” 

Words of Wisdom for Future Pharmacy Students 

To those considering pharmacy school, Makeda’s advice is simple: “Don’t let anyone, especially yourself, tell you that you don’t belong here!! It’s hard, but it’s TOTALLY worth it!!”. Makeda acknowledges that this is a challenging path but emphasizes that the rewards are immense. Pharmacists play a crucial role in patient health and wellbeing, making the hard work worthwhile. 

Reflections and Financial Realities 

One thing Makeda wishes she had known before applying to pharmacy school is the importance of credit history. Financing pharmacy school as an adult is no easy feat. She spent countless hours in the financial aid office to secure her Grad Plus loan. While many of her classmates received support from their parents, Makeda had to navigate this alone. If you are in a similar boat, check out our financial literacy resources and scholarship opportunities.

As she approaches 50, Makeda recognizes that her career as a pharmacist might not span 30 years, but she is committed to making the most of it for as long as possible, saying, “I fully understand that I will not be a Pharmacist for 30 years (I will turn 50 in September), but I will certainly put my Pharm.D. to good use once I get it, for as long as God allows!” 


Makeda’s journey to pharmacy school has been anything but straightforward. It’s been a test of perseverance, adaptability, and sheer willpower. For anyone out there considering this path, remember that every step, no matter how challenging, is a step towards making a significant impact in the field of healthcare. Stay determined, stay passionate, and most importantly, believe in yourself. 

We thank Makeda for sharing her story. For those interested in a similarly fulfilling career in pharmacy, check out the Pharm4Me website for valuable information on becoming a pharmacist, and read more inspirational stories on the Pharm4Me Blog.

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