Posted on: April 10, 2020
University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy Pharm.D. candidate Alexa Swingle has been named a recipient of the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Excellence in Public Health Pharmacy Award. The USPHS evaluates students based on their contributions towards voluntary health related services, an emerging public health issue, or contributions that advance the goals of Healthy People 2030 or the National Prevention Strategy.
As a second-year pharmacy student, Swingle, along with fellow pharmacy student Nicolette Portela, received a $2,500 grant from the Student National Pharmaceutical Association, (SNPhA) and Walmart, Prescription for Service competition. With the grant money, she helped develop an initiative entitled “Carolina Cares for Kids,” a program designed to bring health education to low-income and disadvantaged children from ages 6-10 years old.
The six-week program encompasses an array of health-oriented topics including nutrition and healthy eating, hygiene and hand-washing techniques, medication safety, mental health, and the importance of physical activity.
“We incorporated activities into each lesson like using glow lotion so the kids could see how well they were actually washing their hands,” Swingle says. “We made stress balls out of play-dough and even introduced pharmacy as a possible career option, letting them play with stethoscopes and counting trays.” Plans are for the program, now in its second year, to continue as a student-organized and conducted event.
Swingle has been active in SNPhA since joining the college’s local chapter during her freshman year of college. She has served in a variety of leadership roles including chapter president. She currently serves on the national board for SNPhA where she is the chair for Operation Immunization, which works to increase the public's knowledge of immunizations while increasing the number of adults and children receiving immunizations.
Swingle challenged local SNPhA chapters to promote vaccinations within their communities. “We held competitions for chapters to see who could give the most flu shots,” she says, “with more than 6000 recorded nationally.”
She has volunteered at multiple World Aids Day events, teaching HIV prevention. She also helped organize health fairs for students and the public, providing education and prevention about diabetes, heart health, stroke, smoking cessation, and prevention strategies in HIV and suicide.
Alexa is focused on providing individuals with knowledge so that they can better help themselves.
Amy Grant, Pharm.D. Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Diversity
Amy Grant, Pharm.D., associate dean for Student Affairs and Diversity, along with Doug Pittman, Ph.D. and director of graduate studies, nominated Swingle for the award, citing the time and energy she committed to events and projects. “Alexa is focused on providing individuals with knowledge so that they can better help themselves,” Grant says. “This is the key to improving the sustainable future of a healthy broad population.”
Swingle is the second student from the UofSC College of Pharmacy to receive the award recently. She is grateful for the recognition and hopes it will help encourage others to support the programs and become active in the public health arena. “I think I will always be involved in helping underserved communities,” she says, “wherever that may be.”