Honors student gains health care experience in South Africa


The NDSU University Honors Program helped a pharmacy student gain experiential learning and leadership development in Cape Town, South Africa. Taylor Fern, pre-pharmacy student, participated in a two-week global mentorship program last summer where she mentored students and helped patients. 

Each weekday morning was spent with cultural immersion activities. Often, volunteers would visit patients that spoke a variety of the nation’s 11 official languages. Fern gained experience working with patients and learning about how to treat diseases. Tuberculosis and HIV were prevalent. 

Fern also learned about the pharmacy system in South Africa. She said each prescription refill required a doctor visit. The lines were often five-to-six hours long at the pharmacy. 

In the afternoon, Fern would mentor middle school students in a two-hour after-school program. She taught about HIV, biology and microbiology. The topics typically aligned with the students they were teaching that day. 

“The perspective of teaching a sassy seventh-grader named Tamicka reminded me of what I need to do to work with patients,” Fern said. “I need to be able to break things down for them.” 

Fern worked in a pharmacy for more than three years in high school. She chose NDSU in part because of the pharmacy program’s strength and after a campus visit. 

“NDSU felt like home,” said Fern, who is from Baldwin, Wisconsin. “It felt welcoming in what can be an intimidating program.” 

Fern works part-time at the NDSU Germans from Russia Heritage Collection. She also is a member of Kappa Psi, a professional fraternal organization that fosters high ideals, scholarship and pharmaceutical research. 

Fern was a member of the National Honor Society in high school. She said she finds the University Honors Program “to be a great way to meet other students who have the same amount of ambition and dedication with school as I do,” she said. 

“The honors program will give me the skills I need to succeed in pharmacy,” Fern said. 

Funded by the NDSU Development Foundation, the University Honors Program supports students pursuing experiential learning opportunities outside the university.

 “Taylor’s experience showcases the drive of NDSU students, and it highlights the student-centered approach of programs such as the honors program,” said Matthew Salafia, University Honors Program coordinator. 

“We provide students with a wide variety of learning and life opportunities,” said Charles Peterson, dean of the NDSU School of Pharmacy and College of Health Professions. NDSU’s program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE).


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