BILOXI, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi's second pharmacy school is opening on the state's Gulf Coast, with William Carey University beginning classes on Monday at its School of Pharmacy in Biloxi.
For now, the 58 students will be meeting in temporary locations, awaiting the October scheduled opening of the $7 million, three-story pharmacy building.
Baptist-affiliated William Carey will offer an accelerated pharmacy course, with students finishing in three academic years instead of the traditional four years. Classes will meet year-round in four terms of 10 weeks each.
Gloria Rawls of Hattiesburg will be one of the first students. She tells the Hattiesburg American that she couldn't move to Oxford to take pharmacy classes at the University of Mississippi, because she has two young children. But she plans to commute from Hattiesburg to the campus at the Tradition development on the northern edge of Biloxi.
Student Candace Webber tells WLOX-TV that she left pharmacy school at Xavier University in New Orleans, but never stopped wanting to be a pharmacist, working for more than a decade as a pharmacy technician.
"After being a technician for so long and knowing the process and I've always desired to be a pharmacist, I decided it's time to go back to school," Webber said.
Douglas DeGeorge plans to retire from the Biloxi police force and is starting pharmacy classes. He said he was attracted to the school in part because pharmacists are in high demand.
"I think we pulled the numbers the other day and Mississippi had about 4,000 pharmacies, which in this day and age is exceptionally low," he said. "With the population living longer, people are going to need their medicines."
Pharmacy Dean Michael Malloy said graduates of the school are likely to stay in the area.
"Since there wasn't a school here (before), you couldn't build a culture of pharmacy here," he said. "Students have a tendency once they graduate to either go back home or stay where they're trained."
William Carey already offers nursing, physical therapy and osteopathic medicine programs on its Hattiesburg campus. William Carey Provost Scott Hummel said the combination of the programs will be beneficial.
The state is giving William Carey $1 million from money it received following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill to help the school gain accreditation.