UM Stamps Scholar Sets Sights on Cancer Research, Community Care

By BY SYDNEY SLOTKIN DUPRIEST,

Early Entry student pharmacist Brandon Ashmore wants to make a difference

OXFORD, Miss. – From the moment Brandon Ashmore's brother brought home study notes from his pharmacy classes at the University of Mississippi, Brandon, then 11 years old, knew that pharmacy was in his future.

Seven years later, Ashmore started his first day of school at Ole Miss as part of the pharmacy school's competitive Early Entry program, a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and as one of 13 Stamps Scholars in the Ole Miss class of 2023.

Ashmore, who is from Brandon, said being part of these programs will allow him to do more of what he feels called to do: give back to his community.

"Growing up, I wasn't always able to give back as much as I wanted to," he said. "As a pharmacist, people really trust you and pharmacists are very important for community health and safety.

"I want to help people as much as I can and make a difference in their lives. That's what motivates me the most to do well."

Ashmore hopes to spend a few years working in community pharmacy before returning to school to earn a master's degree in pharmacology so that he can pursue his biggest goal of conducting cancer research.

"My family used to say, 'Brandon's going to find a cure for cancer,'" he said. "If I could just help in finding or developing a cure, that would be the ultimate dream. I just feel like there's got to be something out there that can cure it."

During the summer before his senior year of high school, Ashmore participated in the Ole Miss MOST Conference, which is designed to guide African American students through the college application process. Ashmore's mentor throughout the conference, third-year Early Entry student pharmacist Victoria Green, from Canton, said that although Ashmore was quiet throughout the conference, his kind gestures conveyed his character.

"I could tell that Brandon was sincere and humble, and that he not only cared about his education, but also about others, whether it be me or people within our MOST conference group," Green said.

Ashmore already knew he loved the Ole Miss campus from his experience at MOST and had his heart set on Early Entry pharmacy, but when his high school counselor told him about the Stamps Scholar program, he began to see his future at the university more clearly.

His counselor and his family practiced interview questions with him to prepare for the interview process. After two rounds of video interviews and a visit to campus, which included dinner at the Chancellor's House hotel, Ashmore was chosen to be one of 218 Stamps Scholars in the nation from more than 254,000 applications overall, and one of two within the Early Entry pharmacy program.

Of those 218, the Stamps Scholars official press release highlighted Ashmore, along with two other recipients.

"Being a Stamps Scholar really connects you to a community of like-minded people," Ashmore said. "It just gives you so much freedom from having to worry about the financial side of it."

Lindsey Cooper, admissions counselor for the School of Pharmacy, has helped smooth Ashmore's transition into the Early Entry program.

"Brandon is a well-rounded, humble and motivated young man," Cooper said. "I have no doubt he will be a leader within the Early Entry pharmacy family and a fantastic representative of Ole Miss to the Stamps Scholars organization.

"Brandon will leave our program and university better than he found them."

Besides a challenging course load with honors and pre-pharmacy classes, Ashmore plays tenor drums in the Ole Miss Pride of the South marching band and will travel with the band to away football games. He also has expressed an interest in being part of minority engagement clubs on campus.

"I hope while I'm at Ole Miss that I don't just acquire knowledge, but that I really learn how to interact with people from all different walks of life and how to communicate my ideas and work with different groups of people to ultimately be successful," he said.