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School of Pharmacy
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Alumni Profiles

Alumni Serve the Community of Smithton

School of Pharmacy alum Frances Schneider, PharmD ’13, demonstrates exemplary service to her patients at the Smithton Pharmacy, her independently owned pharmacy in Smithton, Ill. Utilizing the entrepreneurial interests of her husband, fellow alum Bryan Schneider, PharmD ’10, the pair have created a flourishing business.

Opened in December 2015, the Smithton Pharmacy provides prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, immunizations, nutrition supplements, general hygiene items and more. After thorough research, the Schneider’s selected Smithton as the ideal community.

“Smithton could support at least two pharmacies but didn’t have one yet,” Bryan said. “I purchased property and provided the business resources necessary to help Frances open her pharmacy.”

Still in its first year of operation, service to patients is what sets the Smithton Pharmacy apart from others.
“Frances is willing to do anything for anyone, and will go anywhere to get what the townspeople want,” Bryan said.

That caring and service-oriented nature is what drove Frances to establish an independent pharmacy.

“I worked in retail pharmacy previously,” Frances said. “Having my own business, I now feel I know my patients better, and I’m doing my job more thoroughly.”

The importance of these interactions was evidenced recently when Frances became concerned for one of her patients undergoing cancer treatment. While speaking to her by phone, Frances sensed confusion and knew something was not right. She contacted the patient’s husband to express her concerns, and as a result her patient was hospitalized later that day with an infection.

“The School of Pharmacy definitely emphasized the clinical nature of pharmacy,” said Frances. “I feel that I am putting that to good use and doing everything I can to provide the best care for my patients.”
More than a local business, the Smithton Pharmacy is establishing itself as a community friend

Casey Robinson

Casey Robinson, Class of 2012
Making a Difference

“I have always been raised to give back, and what better way than to do something that will not only help students financially, but also help motivate them.”

Casey Robinson, PharmD ‘12, felt inspired when she received the CVS Community Pharmacy Scholarship as a pharmacy student and wanted to pass on that inspiration to the future generation of pharmacists. “Receiving a scholarship meant so much to me, because it was awarded from not only my peers, but also the people in my profession who I was aspiring to be,” said Robinson. “Recognition from community pharmacists helped me realize that I was doing something right and kept me motivated.”

Robinson hopes to inspire and uplift pharmacy students in a similar way. She established the Geilhausen Scholarship, named in honor of her grandparents, who have always taught her to help others.

Choosing to stay connected to the School by serving as a preceptor and providing a scholarship remains important to Robinson. She offers words of wisdom for fellow alumni who wish to give back to the School through other means. “Give back in a way that feels good to you: a scholarship, attending an event or becoming a preceptor,” said Robinson, “And remember, the School will always be there to support you, while also continuing to be an excellent
resource for your pharmacy practice.”

Dawn M. Dankenbring, Class of 2011

 Dawn Dankenbring

Degree: PharmD, BCPS

Current Position: Clinical Pharmacy Specialist for the ICU and Telemetry Units at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Belleville, Ill.  Additionally, I serve as an assistant preceptor for the SIUE School of Pharmacy APPE Internal Medicine and Hospital rotations.

Career goals: In the short-term after graduation, my career goals were to complete a PGY-1 Residency at St. Luke's Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., and to become a board certified specialist.  In the future, I hope to eventually divide my time between academia and clinical practice, as I enjoy teaching and working with students and residents.

Favorite Memory at SOP: It is difficult to choose just one as my favorite memory, but I thoroughly enjoyed all of the various fundraisers that we participated in for the different organizations, including the Halloween Parades for APhA-ASP (I think the Jamaican Me Crazy float was probably our best) and the Holiday (Ugly?) Christmas Sweater Party for the Class of 2011.  I also loved to attend pharmacy conferences with students from every class and the amazing faculty, with my favorite probably being the 2009 NCPA Annual Convention in New Orleans.  Finally, volunteering for the Jamaica Dental/Pharmacy Mission was an experience I will never forget. 

Advice for Current/Future Pharmacists: Get involved and stay involved!  I am proud to say that I continue to serve as a member of the SIUE School of Pharmacy Alumni Council and still attend the APhA-ASP Trivia Night fundraiser every year. Pharmacy really is a small world and  it is important to build and maintain relationships because you never know where you will end up.  On that note, if you are at all considering a residency, do it, because the job market is only going to become more competitive. What you may lose in one year's salary or student loan repayment, you gain in invaluable experience.

Laura Gleason

Laura Gleason, Class of 2013

: Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD)

position: PGY1 pharmacy practice resident at Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Neb.

goals: I am planning on completing a PGY2 oncology residency upon completion of my PGY1 residency. After that, I hope to be a clinical oncology pharmacist at a nationally recognized cancer center. I aspire to have a direct role in patient care and be depended on by other health care providers to maximize patient care. I would also love to share my enthusiasm for my interests and profession with students through precepting and/or a faculty position.

Favorite memory at SOP: Do I have to pick just 1? I absolutely loved my four years at SIUE. The outpouring of support from the faculty, staff and fellow students was unbelievable. With that being said, one of my favorite experiences was attending APhA Midyear during the fall of my P1 year. This trip helped form friendships that carried on throughout pharmacy school and continue to this day. In addition, the meeting was filled with valuable information regarding leadership, advocacy and legislation regarding pharmacy. This really opened my eyes to how impactful pharmacy could be. 

Advice to current students: Get involved! There are numerous reasons to get involved, but I'll share three that I think are most important.

  1. Pharmacy is a small world. Going to meetings allows you to network and form relationships that could help you with a reference, recommendation or connection to a future job/residency.
  2. It builds your CV. Along with gaining experience, knowledge and leadership skills, it makes you more marketable for your future career aspirations.
  3. Make friends. In order to survive pharmacy school (and be happy), you need to take a break every once in a while and have fun with your friends. And who knows, maybe they'll be able to help you out in the future, too. 


Ryan Birk

Ryan Birk, Class of 2013

Degree: Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD)

Current position: University of Kansas Health-System Pharmacy Administration/MS Resident

Career goals: My career goal is to be a pharmacy manager and eventually a director of pharmacy.

Favorite memory at SOP: My favorite memories of pharmacy school are of the dedicated professors/mentors and the time I spent with classmates at pharmacy related events. One of my favorite events was shaving my head, with many others (including Dean Gupchup), to raise funds for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.

Advice for current/future pharmacists: My advice would be to get involved with at least one pharmacy organization during pharmacy school and throughout your career. You will be surprised about the amount of energetic people supporting the direction of pharmacy.


Simone Hunziker

Simone Hunziker, Class of 2010

Degree: Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD)

Current position: I am currently employed at Express Scripts as a Pilot Pharmacist where I oversee the front-end operations.

Career goals: I am planning on getting my MBA through Express Scripts and become a Director of Operations. In this role, I will be responsible for the daily operations and program planning for the pharmacy. I will manage, support and oversee team performance on a day-to-day basis.

Favorite memory at SOP: From the late night study sessions with a pot of coffee to the HIV/AIDS fair where we set up a booth to educate the younger generations, there was never a dull moment. I think my most favorite memory and biggest accomplishment was starting SNPhA with 4 other colleagues. It puts a smile on my face when I see the organization is doing so well now.

Advice to current students: My biggest advice is to never give up and keep striving to succeed. Pharmacy school is challenging. There were times where I questioned myself if this was the right profession for me. I promise, though, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It took me a few years to realize that I did not want to be a clinical pharmacist and did not want to go through a 2-year residency. I started to seek other avenues and realized going down the business path was more appealing. There are so many directions you can take in the pharmacy world. With a little bit of faith and the drive to succeed, you will find your path, too.

Matt Hammer

Matt Hammer, Class of 2010

Degree: Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD)

Current position: Clinical Pharmacist at Freeport Memorial Hospital in Freeport, Ill.

Career goals: I am planning on earning a MBA and later become the Director of Pharmacy.

Favorite memory at SOP: The best thing about SIUE was gaining lifelong friends from both fellow classmates and faculty members. It was also fun playing in the annual SOP golf tournament every year.

Advice for current/future pharmacists: Continue to strive to grow professionally and set yourself apart. This, in turn, will make you a better pharmacist for patient care.

Alumni as Faculty Members

Diana Isaacs

Diana (Jason) Isaacs, Class of 2009

Degree: Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD)

Current position: Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice at Chicago State University and Clinical Pharmacy Specialist in Ambulatory Care at the Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital

Residency location: Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center

Why academia?
I was always interested in teaching even before I began pharmacy school. During my time at SIUE, I was really inspired by the faculty in the School of Pharmacy and had the opportunity to take course electives with a teaching concentration. Everyone was so supportive. They encouraged me to get involved in professional organizations, which opened the doors for networking opportunities and eventually led me to my current faculty position.

What do you love about your job?
I love serving students in the role of preceptor. I feel a responsibility to the next generation of pharmacists to help move the profession forward through guiding and mentoring students.

Do you have any advice for current pharmacy students considering academia?
Stay open minded. Take advantage of the chance to get involved in organizations and professional events. Staying active in the field will lead you to new and exciting opportunities no matter the direction you choose.

Goldie Peters

Goldie Peters, Class of 2009

Degree: Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD)

Current position:  Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice at St. Louis College of Pharmacy
Residency location: St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Belleville, Ill.

Why academia?
Although my mother is a teacher and I had considered going into teaching early on, I wasn’t positive about where I wanted to end up until I began my residency. Once I started working with the pharmacy students, I knew it was the right direction for me. I let the residency experience lead me, and I couldn’t be happier with my decision.

What do you love about your job?
I truly enjoy working with students on rotation and helping them understand what it means to be a pharmacist. I also get a lot of fulfillment out of the clinical service we are able to provide to the veterans at the John Cochran Division of the VA St. Louis Health Care System.

What is your teaching style?
I try to be very approachable. My philosophy is that the classroom should be an open, comfortable environment. I want my students to know that it’s ok to not know everything and to feel comfortable asking questions. My instructors at SIUE cultivated a very comfortable classroom environment, so I try to model my teaching after them. 


Shelley Otsuka

Shelley Otsuka, Class of 2010

Degree: Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD)

Current position: Assistant Professor of Clinical Pharmacy at Philadelphia College of Pharmacy

Residency location: The Ohio State University

Why academia?
I first became interested in academia when I took three elective courses focused on teaching at SIUE. Those courses really developed my interest in the field and gave me an idea of how dynamic a career in academia could be. I was attracted to the fact that faculty positions give you the opportunity to experience teaching, patient care, scholarly activities and more.

What do you love about your job?
As a preceptor, I am able to see students through their academic career. It’s very rewarding. I also enjoy the flexibility my position allows. I’m able to work with patients, teach and mentor students, work on a variety of projects and get to travel to a variety of conferences, which makes every day interesting

What are your research interests?
I am focused on chronic disease state management, health information technology and transition of care.

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