‘It takes a village.’ Scholarships support MUSC’s youngest ever Doctor of Pharmacy student in pursuit of passion to serve

Melissa Varner
April 12, 2022
Kira Adkins

Kira Adkins discovered her passion for helping people at 13. As the youngest on a mission trip to Honduras, she was given simple tasks like handing out eyeglasses or care packages to the villagers. Although a language barrier kept them from fully understanding each other, Kira said their gratitude was palpable.

She remembers thinking, “I could chase this feeling my whole life.”

It drove her to complete a dozen college courses by the time she was a senior at Academic Magnet High School in North Charleston. At 16, she became the youngest ever Doctor of Pharmacy student to be accepted to the Medical University of South Carolina. Most students earn a four-year degree before even applying to the MUSC College of Pharmacy.

Now 21, Kira will graduate from the college in May. She put in the hard work to get here but knows she couldn’t have done it alone.

“I don't credit anything just to myself. It takes a village,” Kira said. “My village started out as just family but has grown to include the people who have helped me along the way.”

That includes the donors who have made her pharmacy education possible. Kira received scholarships from the state, her church and from the community. She is also the recipient of a Provost Scholarship and a Graduate Incentive Scholarship through MUSC. Both are for deserving students who are Black/African American, Native American and/or Hispanic. Out of 69 students in the Class of 2022, Kira is one of eight Black students.

“I'm from Charleston. There's a lot of people that I grew up with or even people in my church who would be considered minorities and underserved,” Kira said. “I've heard from them that it means a lot to see a young Black female working in the field.” She said some patients have even felt more comfortable sharing information with her than with her instructor, who was a white male.

The opportunity to work with underserved communities was also a big factor for Kira when choosing where to do her residency training. She’s grateful that scholarship support allowed her to explore her options.

“I feel like nobody really talks about it, but residency applications really put a lot of financial strain on you in your fourth year,” Kira said. On top of fees, students often must pay for transportation, hotels and food during residency interviews. It adds up, usually to a few thousand dollars.

In March, Kira learned she matched to Prisma Health Upstate, which serves Greenville, South Carolina, and surrounding communities.

Kira can’t help but look back at how far she’s come because of her village. “On that mission trip I felt like what I was doing was so minimal,” she said. “Now I have the capacity to actually help people and literally save lives. That's what keeps me going and gives me that motivation – that fire – to be a pharmacist.”