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FAMU and NWFSC forge partnership bringing new opportunity to pharmacy students in Okaloosa

FAMU and NWFSC signed a 2+4 Articulation Agreement, allowing NWFSC students to seamlessly transition into FAMU's PharmD program at the Durell Peaden Jr. Rural Pharmacy Education Campus, addressing housing challenges and providing new opportunities.

The Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Institute of Public Health and Northwest Florida State College (NWFSC) have solidified their partnership through a 2+4 Articulation Agreement. 

  • The agreement, a result of Representative Patt Maney’s vision and efforts to increase FAMU’s impact in the northwestern part of the state, was officially signed during a ceremony at the Durell Peaden Jr. Rural Pharmacy Education Campus in Crestview on June 4.

The Durell Peaden Jr. Rural Pharmacy Education Campus, housed in a revitalized historical building, has a rich history. Built in the late 1930s, the two-story commercial vernacular structure initially served as the Smith-Johnson Garment Factory and later as the Alatex Textiles Garment Factory. It is the only example of historical industrial architecture in Okaloosa County. The plant produced various items, including military clothing, and provided significant support during World War II.

In 2010, the City of Crestview signed the building’s title to FAMU after the Florida Legislature budgeted for its restoration. The College of Pharmacy admitted its first Crestview students on August 27, 2012. The center was renamed the Durell Peaden Jr. Education Center in 2016 in honor of the late Senator Durell Peaden, Jr., who worked tirelessly to obtain the necessary resources for the center’s establishment and operation.

  • The Peaden Campus has established itself as competitive with other pharmacy schools in the nation. In 2021, its graduates achieved a 92.9% pass rate on the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination, exceeding both state and national averages.

The 2+4 Articulation Agreement allows NWFSC students to complete their general education and prerequisite courses at the state college before seamlessly transitioning into FAMU’s Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program at the Crestview campus. The agreement also addresses housing challenges faced by FAMU pharmacy students by providing accommodations on the NWFSC campus.

According to Dr. Devin Stephenson, President of NWFSC, the agreement represents a significant advancement in creating streamlined educational pathways for students. 

  • “Students enrolled in our AA program will receive the foundational education in general sciences, mathematics, and other prerequisite courses essential for a career in pharmacy,” he said. “We structured this curriculum so that it is meticulously aligned with the requirements needed to enter the PharmD program at FAMU.”
(left) Dr. Larry Robinson (FAMU President) and Dr. Devin Stephenson (NWFSC President) signing the agreement.

Stephenson also emphasized the benefits of the partnership, including a clear pathway, cost-effective education, academic wraparound services, and early exposure to pharmacy education. “This pathway allows them to engage with the college pharmacy very early in their academic career,” he said.

FAMU President Dr. Larry Robinson highlighted the importance of such partnerships in providing access to higher education. 

  • “Since 2018, we have implemented about twenty-one 2+2 programs to allow students access to FAMU who might not have a chance otherwise, and this is very important to us,” he said. Robinson also noted that the agreement solves a significant housing problem for FAMU students in Crestview, where affordable housing options were limited prior to the partnership.

Representative Patt Maney, who played a key role in bringing the institutions together, expressed his humility and gratitude for being part of the campus’s evolution. “I didn’t expect to speak because this program is not about me. I’m just so humbled to be here and be part of the evolution of the Peaden Campus of Florida A&M,” he said.

Maney shared his vision for the partnership, emphasizing the importance of having people who could make the vision a reality. “It’s important for leaders to have visions, but it’s more important to have people who could make the vision. That’s what Dr. Stephenson and Dr. Robinson did. They took my little vision and made a big project that’s going to serve our entire community,” he said.

During his speech, Rep Maney expressed his admiration for the Peaden Campus and the opportunities it provides, telling the story of a pharmacy student he had recently met.

  • “I met a pharmacy student here from Chicago because he heard about this campus. He saw affordable tuition. He saw a higher pass rate than the national rate,” Maney said. “And I thought, we’ve got to fix housing and we’ve got to fix the opportunity for more students.”

The representative also expressed hope that the partnership could include a pathway of progress for public school students. “I think that’s a promising sign that this partnership can also include a pathway of progress for our public school students. If we can get the Superintendent and the [Okaloosa] school board to work with Florida A&M and Northwest Florida State, we can really build a great opportunity for our students,” Maney said.

Dr. Johnnie L. Early II, Dean of the FAMU College of Pharmacy, and Dr. Allyson L. Watson, FAMU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, joined President Robinson, President Stephenson, and other officials in signing the historic agreement. 

The ceremony concluded with the unveiling of Emerald Bricks to acknowledge financial sponsors whose “scholarship and monetary support will never be forgotten,” according to Dr. Margareth Larose-Pierre, Founding Campus Dean.

Nancy Peaden, wife of the late Senator Durell Peaden, Jr., attended the ceremony and shared her thoughts on the momentous occasion. The event coincided with what would have been the couple’s 42nd wedding anniversary, making her presence all the more meaningful. 

“I think it’s just divine that it fell on the same day as that, so I could be here and be a part of this,” she said.

(left) Representative Patt Maney, Nancy Peaden, Dr. Larry Robinson (FAMU President), and Dr. Devin Stephenson (NWFSC President)

Peaden expressed her appreciation for the hard work put in by Representative Maney and the collaboration between the two colleges. “It’s just wonderful. Wonderful for the community, for the students and for them to be able to have housing nearby,” she remarked.

When asked what her late husband would have said if he could see the event, Peaden simply replied, “Praise God.”

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