Ashley Godwin pivots from Pharm.D. to Ph.D. and a career in market research
Ashley Godwin always thought she wanted to attend college up north, even though her father was a Gamecock alumnus. All it took was a walking tour around campus to convince her that University of South Carolina was indeed where she should further her education.
Godwin, a Lexington, South Carolina, native who attended White Knoll High School, completed her undergraduate studies in biology, with a minor in chemistry, in 2016. A required class in art also led to a minor in art history.
“Having all science classes isn’t necessarily good,” she says. “I’ve always loved art – it makes you think outside the box a little bit.”
For the next step in her education, Godwin always had an interest in medicine, but because of a hand disability, she knew rotations such as surgery would not be an option for her. Godwin has focal dystonia, which affects her fine motor skills so that simple tasks such as fastening buttons can be difficult.
Godwin chose to pursue pharmacy and completed her first year, but again, her disability became an issue for some of the physical requirements, such as administering a vaccine or even putting on a sterile glove. That’s when she had a conversation with Gene Reeder, Ph.D., director of Outcomes Research and Distinguished Professor Emeritus.
I love medicine, but knew I couldn’t do it clinically ... and Dr. Reeder encouraged me to consider the Ph.D. program in Pharmacy Administration.
“I love medicine, but knew I couldn’t do it clinically,” Godwin says, “and Dr. Reeder encouraged me to consider the Ph.D. program in Pharmacy Administration."
She had already spent time working with Charles Bennett, M.D., Ph.D., Clinical Pharmacy and Outcomes Sciences professor, as a research assistant. The Ph.D. curriculum allowed her to discover she had a passion for market research.
“What is great about this program is the ability to take classes throughout campus – public health, business, market research, I love the ability to collaborate with other students.” she says. “It’s an opportunity to interview people, conduct surveys, and learn what people think.”
Working with Tessa Hastings, Ph.D., assistant professor in CPOS, Godwin’s dissertation focused on the rates of the human papillomavirus vaccine within the 18–26-year-old population, which represents a ‘catch-up’ period for those who did not receive the vaccination at a younger age.
“The vaccination rates are particularly low for this age group,” Godwin says, “so I conducted a market segmentation study to find out why they were not getting the vaccine and how we can encourage them to get vaccinated as well as finding ways that health care providers can target their conversations to encourage vaccination.”
My training through the College of Pharmacy’s Ph.D. program has prepared me with a background that I can now apply to pharmaceutical problems ...
Godwin is grateful to all her committee members, including Reeder, Hastings, and Kealy Carter, Ph.D., clinical professor of marketing for the Darla Moore School of Business; Cynthia Phillips, Pharm.D, CPOS associate professor, Interim Provost Stephen Cutler; and Dr. Brian Chen, J.D., Ph.D., associate professor with the Arnold School of Public Health
“I am so thankful for my mentors,” she says. “Each of them encouraged me to figure out each problem, to be as creative as I wanted to be.”
Godwin, who graduates this month with her Ph.D., has already moved on to her next role as a senior market research associate for Putnam Associates, a pharmaceutical consulting firm in Boston, Massachusetts.
“My training through the College of Pharmacy’s Ph.D. program has prepared me with a background that I can now apply to pharmaceutical problems,” she says, “and that’s something I am very much looking forward to.”