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Working in a retail pharmacy in his hometown of Perryville, Mo., Mark Hotop enjoyed interacting with customers to help them understand how to safely and effectively take their medications. But it was the pharmacy's manager who had Mark's prescription for success - he encouraged Mark to pursue his doctoral studies through SIUE's School of Pharmacy.

For Mark, SIUE offered him the perfect combination of education, opportunity and service-all aspects he's been able to explore at greater length thanks to the Charles Dragovich Scholarship, which offsets the cost of Mark's graduate studies.

"Scholarships give students more drive to do well in school and to contribute to their community," Mark said. "The Charles Dragovich Scholarship encouraged me to work hard to become a competent pharmacist. It feels good to be recognized for my hard work."

Gifts that endow scholarships in the School of Pharmacy help students like Mark focus their energy on their studies, allowing them to use their education to better the Edwardsville community.

In addition to his doctoral work, Mark is active in community outreach through the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) and the Student Society of Health System Pharmacists. He's volunteered in local grocery stores helping customers learn how to manage and avoid heartburn, and through the APhA's Operation Immunization, he's helped educate the public about the benefits and safety of vaccinations. Mark also has spoken to groups of young students about the dangers of abusing prescription medications.

Mark's scholarship also allowed him to explore the variety of specialties in his field. Although he's planning to pursue a career in a clinical setting, he's also learned more about academia, retail and research. He said his SIUE education helped him become well rounded and better prepared for wherever his future in pharmacy takes him.

"Now that pharmacy has moved away from the traditional role of dispensing drugs to patient-centered therapeutic careers, it's important to be extremely competent and prepared to help patients," Mark said. "Donors to the School of Pharmacy should know their money is not going to waste. Professors at SIUE really care about helping their students succeed and preparing them to make an impact in their communities."

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