Scholarship Award Makes a Difference Toward Student’s Educational Pursuits

By Jenna Pizzi

Published on May 22, 2018

Evangelina Olivera PhSci’19
Evangelina Olivera PhSci’19

In the small town of Pendleton in northeastern Oregon, where Evangelina Olivera PhSci’19 grew up, the nearest large hospital is about three hours away. The town of 17,000 is better known for its local rodeo, The Pendleton Round Up, than the pharmaceutical industry.

But, for Olivera, watching her best friend from childhood take on, and ultimately lose, a four-year battle with Ewing sarcoma cancer in her femur propelled her to look beyond the borders of Oregon to pursue a career in medicine.

“Hailey and her family continue to motivate me daily to reach the goal that I set for myself when I was only 13 years old—to assist in the research and development of a cure for cancer,” said Olivera.

As she approached the end of high school, Olivera, who is just the second in her family to pursue higher education, was recruited to play softball. When the coach from USciences, a small institution on the other side of the country, approached her, Olivera took her chance.

“When I came here I really fell in love with the atmosphere,” said Olivera. “It is like a small town, in the middle of a big city.”

Moving to the East Coast and living in a big city come with some financial realities. “Philadelphia, in general, is an expensive city to live in, and then in this neighborhood on top of it, it isn’t cheap,” she said.

Although her athletic scholarship helped to defer some of the cost, Olivera sought other scholarship opportunities, too. She was awarded the Martin Buchalter Endowed Scholarship, which was established by Carol and Martin Buchalter P’55, HonDSc’15 to support students who are studying pharmaceutical manufacturing or who have expressed an interest in pursuing a career in pharmaceutical manufacturing.

Buchalter, who posthumously received an honorary doctor of science degree from USciences in 2015, made his name as a medical ultrasound pioneer when he was president and CEO of Parker Laboratories. He advanced the medical application of ultrasound by developing a gel that is applied to the patient’s skin, thus providing the medium that the ultrasound waves need to enter the body tissue.

“I could not be more thankful and constantly grateful for having been awarded this additional scholarship.”

-- Evangelina Olivera PhSci’19

“I could not be more thankful and constantly grateful for having been awarded this additional scholarship,” Olivera said. “After medical school I would like to work with oncological treatments. I know that is going to be a long path, but I am committed to making a difference for patients like Hailey.”

Though she has not graduated, Olivera’s pursuit of working in cancer research has already begun. As an undergrad at USciences, she has had the opportunity to work in two labs, under the direction of pharmaceutics professor Clyde M. Ofner III, PhD, and Zhiyu Li, PhD, director of undergraduate pharmacology/toxicology, conducting research on cancer drugs and drug delivery systems.

To Olivera, receiving a scholarship like the Martin Buchalter Endowed Scholarship is more than just about the financial aspect; it has given her the confidence to continue to pursue her education and her dream.

“For some people, the financial burden of medical school can hinder their aspirations because it may seem like it is unaffordable,” she said. “So just getting a scholarship like this boosted my motivation to continue to do the things that I really want to do but might not have been able to if not for the financial support.”

Categories: The Bulletin, Research Project, Alumni, Giving, Profiles, Proven Everywhere, Student Profile, Awards and Honors, Research, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Pharmaceutics, Pharmacology and Toxicology