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At 18, Susan Kane worked in a pharmacy in her hometown of Griffin, Georgia. She grew fascinated by the profession, marveling at the benefits the right prescriptions brought to her community. How, she wondered, does a little pill know where to go in the body to make a person healthier?
"I really wanted to know how it worked," Susan said. "I had contact through my early jobs with all these smart pharmacists who went to UGA, so I applied to UGA's College of Pharmacy."
Within a month of admission, Susan got involved in student organizations and accepted leadership roles. She eventually held positions as president of Academy of Students of Pharmacy; vice president and serving president of Lambda Kappa Sigma (the pharmacy sorority); and Dean's Student Advisory Council.
"I kind of said yes when other people didn't," she explained.
Fast-forward 25 years. Susan now manages the busy pharmacy at a Publix Super Market in Jacksonville, Florida. On white seashore sands a few blocks from her home, she walks a beloved rescue greyhound named Sugar. ("You can't spell Sugar without UGA," she says.) She demonstrates a lifelong love for UGA by playing an energetic role as an alumna and by finding innovative ways to personally give back to pharma-track students now and generations from now.
Her Susan McMillan Kane Endowment Fund helps pharmacy students attend national and local professional meetings. Susan knows from her own experience that student involvement outside classes and the normal curriculum makes a world of difference in a career.
"It's my first reason for donating back," Susan said. "At UGA, I became involved in leadership roles in which I had to represent the college at different professional events. I met people who became mentors and inspirations. I realized, oh my gosh, these people care! They're not just professionals in pharmaceuticals, but care-givers in the best sense of the word. They made me care too."
"I'm giving back because I saw so many other people giving to me."
After graduating in 1993, Susan worked for 14 years in the Atlanta area. She spent time on the front lines of pharmacy customer service and also behind-the-scenes in the corporate world, managing teams in a division of Publix. She moved to Jacksonville Beach 11 years ago.
Susan first got involved with UGA as alumni council president for the College of Pharmacy, and as a liaison for Publix with UGA students. She became a board member of a fund drive in the early 2000s to build a new-state-of-the-art pharmacy building to replace the aging 1960s-era facility in which she'd taken classes.
The campaign put her in contact with board members, alumni, and donors. Through these relationships, Susan learned about UGA's planned giving program. "This provided an entirely new way for me to give back," as she put it.
Susan made a commitment to support her beloved alma mater by pledging to establish a new endowment. She envisioned it as another way to create a legacy benefiting students.
"I have personally assigned part of my estate from my profit plan and 401(k) to the University of Georgia Foundation," she said. "It's a deferred gift through the Office of Gift & Estate Planning, and it makes me a member of UGA's Heritage Society. Through my deferred gift, an endowed professorship will be created to benefit the College of Pharmacy. I had not thought much before about the future, but through this commitment I'll be leaving a legacy long after I'm gone. It will be helping the college and profession that I hold so dear."
Of her immediate family, Susan was "the first official Bulldog" at UGA. The Bulldog reference is important - she holds a lifelong affinity for dogs. "As a young child, all I wanted to do was draw and paint pictures of dogs. I thought bulldogs were the coolest mascot," she said. "And I couldn't get enough of looking for Uga."
Susan remembers how Athens injected a dose of magic into her life.
"My eyes were opened to a whole world outside my hometown, even though Griffin is only a short distance away," she said. "I wouldn't trade that experience for anything. In Athens and at UGA, I developed an appreciation for diversity, tolerance and mutual respect for people who were different. It gave me exposure to music, art and a whole different level of knowledge. It was a great part of my growing-up years."
One thing's for sure: Susan's generosity to UGA and the College of Pharmacy is a healthy prescription for pharma students who follow in her footsteps today and in years to come.
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