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Diversity & Inclusion


Drake's College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences is committed to creating an inclusive community that celebrates diverse perspectives and talents. The College has proven its dedication to diversity and inclusion since its inception. Cultural competency and diverse learning experiences are important factors of the CPHS curriculum in order to prepare future healthcare professionals to serve and address the unique needs of diverse populations.

Health Sciences Student Diversity Plan
Athletic Training Student Diversity Plan
Occupational Therapy Student Diversity Plan
Pharmacy Student Diversity Plan


Recent events have led campus leaders to reaffirm Drake’s commitment to its Statement of Principles and to speak out on issues impacting our community.

A message from Dean Chesnut:

The recent events that have erupted across our nation have led to a flood of emotions: sadness, frustration, fear, anxiety.  But there are glimmers of hope as we’ve seen people of all backgrounds, including healthcare professionals, come together to address injustice.  While the College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences stands against injustice, we realize that we can do more.

We are reminded that racial disparities in health care is a crisis.  We all have an important role in addressing these disparities in our various communities.  Our alumni, faculty, students, and partners work to better serve patients from all cultures and backgrounds, which has been exemplified in the response of the CPHS family to the current global pandemic.

We are a part of the solution to a wider problem.  To prepare future healthcare professionals to serve and address the unique needs of all populations, the CPHS incorporates cultural competency, healthcare disparity learning, and diverse learning experiences in our various programs.  In addition to the populations we serve, the CPHS is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion for all of our members.  But we must continue to ask ourselves – as professionals, as individuals, as the CPHS community – what more can we do to shape the future of health care for all citizens?

I welcome your questions, concerns, and suggestions.

- Renae Chesnut, Dean

Drake University College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences 

Diversity in Curriculum/Co-Curriculum

Required Course Work/Experiences: 

  • Culture Care Course - In this health sciences curriculum required course, students will learn about the necessary adaptations to healthcare delivery that reflect an understanding of the diversity between and within cultures. They will acquire both generic and specific cultural knowledge for the different patient populations through lectures, group discussions, case studies, projects, and a cultural competence and values self-assessment.
  • Patient Advocacy Series - This series stems from the cultural competency component in the curriculum to prepare students to advocate for diverse groups. Includes healthcare simulations and topics on empathy, mental health disabilities, and health literacy.
  • Cultural Competency Lab Series - Prepares students with the ability to respect, work effectively with, engage, and involve people from varying backgrounds and perspectives. Includes case studies and topics on health disparities, self-awareness, cultural sensitivity, cultural adaptability, and respect for others.
  • Diversity Plans - Each program has developed a diversity plan that outlines the courses and curricular requirements throughout the curricula that develop cultural competence.
  • Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience (IPPE) - All second-year pharmacy students participate in a 40-hour IPPE to learn how social determinants of health impact patient care. The students are involved in providing health care services in environments where patients are at risk for experiencing healthcare disparities.
  • Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPE) - All fourth-year pharmacy students participate in either 5-week APPEs as they prepare for pharmacy practice. At least one of these APPEs must be located in a practice site where patients are at-risk for healthcare disparities. Example sites include Indian Health Services sites, Veterans Administration sites, rural healthcare sites, and other sites where socioeconomic factors place patients at risk for healthcare disparities.
  • Community Health Screenings - Students from all programs participate in community health screenings. Occupational therapy students step off campus to volunteer for many disability organizations and at various events an estimated 1,000 times in one school year.

University-wide curriculum requirements meant to expose students to diverse learning experiences and foster responsible global citizenship:

Dual Degrees, Concentrations, Minors:


  • Spanish for Health Care elective and weekly conversation hours
  • LGBTQ Health: Issues, Impact, and Inclusion - J-Term Course


  • Annual J-Term Experience led by Professor Mahajan to rural India - students complete research projects while at the Pravara Institue of Medical Sciences 

  • International Rotations - Practice sites in Australia, Belize, Canada, China, Dominican Republic, and South Africa

    Learn more about opportunities for International Students to attend our World-Class pharmacy program here.

Scholarship Opportunities

  • Reisetter Scholarship
    Established by alumnus Brian Reisetter. Awarded to a student who enhances the diversity goals of the College. The award is renewable for up to 4 years.
  • James F. Snyder Scholarship
    Presented to a student who enhances the diversity goals of the College.
  • Walgreen Co. Diversity Scholarship
    Presented to a student who actively promotes pharmacy, exhibits professionalism, and promotes diversity.
  • Verdun Scholarships
    Established by alumnus Patrick Verdun and spouse Annette Verdun. Awarded to a student who is from a rural community or enhances the diversity goals of the College. The award is renewable for up to 4 years.
  • Mandel Family Scholarships
    Established by alumnus Craig Mandel and spouse Ellen Mandel.  Awarded to a student with a 3.0 GPA who increases the diversity goals of the College or is involved in campus or community service activities. 
  • Opportunity Scholarships
    Awarded to entering students with financial need who are from educationally, economically, or socially disadvantaged backgrounds or whose enrollment will significantly contribute to the diversity of the student body.
  • Walbridge Medical Mission/International Community Service Trip Travel Scholarship
    Established by alumnus Mary Walbridge. Awarded to students who complete a medical mission or international community service trip for which academic credit is not being received.
  • Johansen International Experience Scholarships
    Established by alum Greg Johansen, these scholarships support pharmacy students who travel abroad as part of their academic program.

More scholarship information:

Student Organizations

CPHS student organizations are dedicated to providing support and leadership opportunities for diverse students. These student organizations include:

  • Student National Pharmacists Association (SNAPhA)
  • American Pharmacists Association - Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) 
  • Lambda Kappa Sigma (LKS) - Women's pharmacy organization

    University-wide student organizations dedicated to diversity and inclusion  - Crew Scholars, Flight Program, NAACP, International Student Association, and more. The full list can be found here.

Interprofessional Education Collaborative

The Des Moines Area Interprofessional Education Collaborative (DMAIPEC) promotes collaboration among students from multiple health care professions to assist them in developing the necessary skills to work in a team based health care environment. Training opportunities emphasize the roles and responsibilities of health care providers in providing ethical patient centered-care. Drake University, Des Moines University, Mercy College, Des Moines Area Community College, and Grand View University collaborate to provide introductory practice experiences for students.

BullD.O.G.S. in Healthcare

BullD.O.G.S. in Healthcare is a summer program hosted by the Drake University that introduces high school students to careers in the health professions. The goal of the program is to educate them about opportunities in health sciences and inspire them to explore different pathways. Participants learn the importance of diversity in the healthcare field and partake in cultural competency exercises. Funding is available to students with financial needs. Learn More

Points of Pride - Notable Students & Alumni

  • Gwendolyn Wilson Fowler graduated from the Des Moines College of Pharmacy, now known as the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, with a degree in chemistry and pharmaceuticals in 1930. She was the first Black woman licensed as a pharmacist in Iowa and the first Black woman to serve in the U.S. Foreign Service. She received the Iowa Governor's Volunteer Award and was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 1987.
  • Wendell T. Hill, PH'50, eventually became Dean at Howard University. He was honored as a Drake University Weaver Medalist in 2007.
  • Felix Gallagher, PH'00, is the CEO of PharmServ and was named a 2013 Des Moines Business Record's Forty under 40 Winner. 
  • Huy Hoang-Nguyen was a finalist for the Next Generation Future Pharmacist Award in 2012.
  • Penny Ferguson, PH'59, was recognized as a 2019 "Sage Over 70" by Des Moines Magazine for her community service and dedication to the growth of Des Moines.
  • Leah Bishop, PharmD Candidate 2023, was one of five pharmacy students in the nation among 689 applicants to receive a 2020-2021 CVS Health Minority Health Scholarship. Read more.
  • Gustavo Flores, PharmD Candidate 2024, was one of five student pharmacists in the nation among 489 applicants to receive a 2021-2022 CVS Health Minority Scholarship. Read more
  • Aobakwe Malau, MAT candidate 2022, was awarded the 2021 Emerging Clinician Award. This award is granted to one Master of Athletic Training student in CPHS during the annual Pinning and Recognition Ceremony. Read More.
  • Emmaline Paintsil, PH'18, became the Director of Professional Affairs for the Iowa Pharmacy Association in 2021.

Welcoming Environment

Des Moines is #4 on Vocativ's list of America's Most LGBT-Friendly Cities after Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco. The city also earns high scores on the Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index.

Des Moines provides opportunities for cultural exploration and learning through events such as I’ll Make Me a World in Iowa, CelebrAsian, and the Latino Heritage Festival.


Additional College & University Resources:

College and University DEI Reporting Resources
Drake University's Commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Drake University's Commitment to Non-discrimination and Accessibility
Drake University Title IX

Des Moines Resources:
Diversity & Inclusion Committee of the Greater Des Moines Partnership
Hindu Temple and Cultural Center of Iowa
Iowa Asian Alliance
Iowa Civil Rights Commission
Iowa Department of Human Rights
Iowa Pride Network
Islamic Center of Des Moines
Italian American Cultural Center of Iowa
Latinos Unidos
NAACP Des Moines

For more information, contact the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at

CPHS Events