When Stephanie Sollis leaves for residency after graduation, she will bring with her the leadership skills she honed in the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy as well as the discipline developed by participating in competitive cheerleading.
Sollis, a Corning, Arkansas, native, was voted class secretary/treasurer during her first year of pharmacy school before being elected to a two-year term as Pharmacy student body president.
“My first year was spent in Oxford, and then I moved to Jackson and became School of Pharmacy student body president,” she said. “As student body president for the SOP, I was also one of our ASB representatives. Through this role, I was able to connect our students to happenings on the UMMC campus so that more students became informed and involved. At the same time, I could organize events within our school, so I think I had the best of both worlds. I'm also glad to see that the SOP is becoming more involved on the UMMC campus as more and more students pursue leadership roles!”
Dr. Leigh Ann Ross, associate dean for clinical affairs in the School of Pharmacy, has watched Sollis' leadership abilities grow during her time at UMMC.
“Stephanie is an extraordinary student leader in the School of Pharmacy and represents our School in interprofessional forums such as the UMMC ASB. She organizes and coordinates many important functions in her role of SOP Student Body President, but more importantly, she generates enthusiasm and excitement among her peers for pharmacy's role in patient care.”
After Sollis participated in an elective Leadership and Advocacy class during her second professional year, “it was immediately evident that she had innate leadership skills,” Ross said. “It has been a delight to watch her leadership abilities develop further over the last several years. She recently provided a presentation for our State Board of Pharmacy regarding the future of pharmacy practice, and the vision she articulated was inspiring. Stephanie is a leader, and an advocate for our profession and the patients we serve. I look forward to seeing what her future holds.”
Sollis was a nontraditional applicant to the UM pharmacy professional program, having completed a bachelor of science degree in health sciences with an emphasis in health services administration at the University of Central Arkansas and an MBA at Ole Miss.
“I knew that I wanted to pursue pharmacy after this, and I ultimately chose Ole Miss for the great opportunities, affordable education, and, most importantly, the people,” Sollis said. “I connected to all of the wonderful people there, and I was attracted to a nationally ranked hospitable program in the most perfect town, Oxford. I knew it would prepare me for everything that I wanted to do long term, and I know I made a great decision.”
Sollis visited Ireland in 2014 to teach in a Universal Cheerleaders Association cheerleading camp.
Sollis has been a cheerleader since junior high, cheering on the sidelines at school and in a competitive All Star cheerleading gym.
“I went on to cheer at the University of Central Arkansas,” she said. “The Central Arkansas cheerleading program was nationally ranked, and I wanted to cheer on a competitive collegiate team, so it was a perfect fit! Outside of cheering on specific teams, I was also an instructor for Universal Cheerleaders Association, a company based out of Memphis, Tennessee, for nearly 12 years. I started as a general summer cheerleading camp instructor and eventually worked my way up to head instructor. I received Mid-South Region Head Instructor of the Year twice, which is a pretty proud moment for me.”
Teaching cheerleading took Sollis around the country and overseas, visiting Germany, London, Ecuador and Ireland, seeing Niagara Falls and performing in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
While Sollis has retired from being a cheerleading instructor, she judges cheerleading competitions during the cheerleading season for the UCA College Cheerleading National Championship, UCA National High School Cheerleading Championship and several all-star competitive national competitions.
“Cheerleading has been a great experience for me,” she said. “I have gained so many relationships throughout the years, as well as more experiences than I can count. I have learned discipline, teamwork, and that you can do whatever you want if you work hard enough!”
Sollis' future plans include marriage in June and then moving to Lexington, Kentucky, for a two-year health system pharmacy administration residency at University of Kentucky Healthcare.
“My ultimate goal is to become a director of pharmacy in an academic health system,” she said, “and I may pursue other administrative roles prior to reaching this goal.”
Looking back over her years in the School of Pharmacy, Sollis said time on the UMMC campus was invaluable.
“It is a great way for students to gain clinical experience that is definitely needed in the ever-changing world of health care. At UMMC, we were exposed to a wealth of interprofessional experiences, and students are well prepared to work as members of a collaborative health care team.”