A mentor said the odds were against him, yet Justin Redding, Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy Class of 2013, is about to embark on life with a doctorate in pharmacy.
Redding was born in Chicago and grew up in Sugar Land, Texas, with a single mom.
“The first time I met Justin was in 1998,” said Hubert Osei, Pharm.D., a San Antonio pharmacist who was a college student a year away from entering pharmacy school.
Osei babysat him and his sister on Saturdays while his mother worked. He said Redding, who was 11 at the time, exhibited leadership qualities surpassing any child his age.
“At that young age, he was self-sufficient and motivated, had good work ethic and was independent,” Osei said. “He knew how to cook, take care of his younger sister and set the example for her to follow.
“Adversity in life can be good or bad; it all depends on support structure around you,” Osei said. “He had his incredible mother Jeanette and, later on, his stepfather Joe. Justin took a leadership role, becoming the man of the house at an early age.”
In addition, Redding’s good demeanor, self-discipline, listening skills and ability to logically resolve problems prepared him to be a leader.
“I knew he was going to succeed academically and also in any leadership position that he has the opportunity to assume,” Osei said.
Some of his peers and professors viewed Redding as a natural born leader.
“His peers just naturally follow him,” said Juan Bustamante, Ph.D., assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences. “He enjoys being a leader and to get his hands dirty.”
Redding’s colleagues honored him with multiple leadership awards on May 10. For his exceptional service and commitment through involvement at the regional, state and national levels and in other extracurricular learning opportunities while excelling academically, he received the Academy of Student Pharmacists Mortar & Pestle Professionalism Award.
“Whether it is the president of the university or an indigent patient, Justin could communicate well,” said Michael Veronin, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences.
Redding also received the Kappa Psi Legacy Award on behalf of the Epsilon Epsilon chapter of Kappa Psi Pharmaceutical Fraternity Inc. as the graduating brother who has shown great leadership and vision as an active member of the chapter while upholding the four pillars of fellowship, industry, sobriety and high ideals.
Serving as Kappa Psi vice regent of membership, he also received a Kappa Psi Foundation Scholarship in 2012 that recognizes students who excel in the areas of academics, chapter leadership and campus involvement.
The Phi Lambda Sigma Graduate Leadership Award also went to Redding for possessing the characteristics of a leader, along with a record of outstanding accomplishments in promoting and advancing the profession of pharmacy. He was the secretary of Phi Lambda Sigma his third year of pharmacy school.
Because of his service as the 2011-2012 president of American Pharmacists Association–Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP), he received the APhA-ASP Senior Recognition Award.
“Justin is a great leader in APhA-ASP, and he has personally been an inspiration to me,” said Aivee Tabangcora, current APhA-ASP chapter president. “As chapter president, he inspired members to serve their community and advocate for their profession.”
Redding was passionate about providing health care services to South Texas colonias, gathering contacts and creating plans to set up a free clinic. Because of his hard work, APhA-ASP operated the first mini-clinic in April 2013.
While attending APhA regional and national meetings, his outgoing personality allowed him to make lasting friendships with other student pharmacists who were as passionate about pharmacy as he was. During his third year, he ran for national member-at-large of APhA.
“Student pharmacists from all over the nation saw his potential as a great leader and loved his inspirational speech,” said Tabangcora, a third-year doctoral student. “It was an exciting moment for our chapter to hear his name being called out as the next national member-at-large. Justin would be representing our school on the national level.”
As national member-at-large, Redding traveled nationwide motivating members to serve, advocate and advance the future of the profession. He left a lasting impression on the APhA-ASP chapter and the TAMHSC-Rangel College of Pharmacy.
After graduation, Redding will enter a community pharmacy residency at the University of Texas at Austin, teaching and precepting students along with practicing pharmacy. This opportunity will match both his passions: pharmacy and food.
“Whatever people put in their body, it will make them feel good or bad,” he said. “Medication is the same way. I look forward to helping patients understand how drugs work and foods. I want people to enjoy the foods they eat that are good for them.”
Redding hopes to return to the TAMHSC-Rangel College of Pharmacy in the future to continue teaching, precepting and practicing pharmacy.