"Once I chose pharmacy, I knew I was going to follow in the footsteps of my mom..."
University of South Carolina alumna Christi Epps' (1997 Pharm.D.) trailblazing spirit comes from her mother, who was one of the first women to graduate from the UofSC College of Pharmacy. She's continuing that legacy and inspiring future generations as a leader in the business of pharmacy.
Tell us about what you do:
After retiring as the CEO of Longs Drugs, I started a consulting business, ACE Partners. Currently, I advise private equity firms and other businesses who are considering health care investments with a focus on pharmacy.
How did you originally get interested in your field?
I grew up “working” at Rileys Drugs with my mom (Sylvia Cupstid Nicholson, 1956 B.S. pharmacy). “Working” was limited to Sundays - organizing shelves, eating candy, drinking sodas, and interrupting her while she was taking care of patients. Throughout high school my strengths were science and math; when deciding on a career path it came down to pharmacy or civil engineering. The deciding factor for me was the ability to care for patients.
Why did you choose the University of South Carolina?
Once I chose pharmacy, I knew I was going to follow in the footsteps of my mom and attend the UofSC College of Pharmacy. (However, I grew up a Clemson fan so I attended Clemson to complete my pre-pharmacy requirements. For those of you wondering, I am now a Gamecock fan!)
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Life is a journey. It is a marathon, not a sprint, filled with ups and downs, twists and turns, and lots of faith that repeats until you land right where you are supposed to be.
Who has been a mentor to you?
My mom has been and will always be my mentor. She helped pave the way for women to enter the pharmacy profession in South Carolina. Graduating in 1956 with only a small number of women in her class. My mom raised three children while working full-time as an independent pharmacist. She is a loving, honest, kind and humble individual that I continue to rely on for advice and strength.
What is your favorite memory from Pharmacy School at the University of South Carolina?
I have so many wonderful memories from pharmacy school that it is difficult to choose just one. The faculty, the friends I made, and clinical rotations, especially ambulatory care at the VA, all make the list.
What is your advice for current students / future pharmacy professionals?
Always do the right thing for all people. Treat people fairly and like your family. Navigating the health care system is difficult for patients. As their advocates, we must be problem solvers and remember that it is our responsibility to serve them.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Mother Teresa! This quote has always resonated with me; and it embodies how I strive to live my life:
“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”
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