Tate Pepper has made an impact as Ole Miss pharmacy student
Tate Pepper grew up as a Mississippi State fan. Going to “The School Up North” probably wasn’t on his radar.
However, when his interest in chemistry and biology led him to choose pharmacy as a career path, the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy moved into his sights. Now the former MSU student is making a difference at his new school by volunteering at the university’s COVID-19 vaccine clinic.
“It is rewarding to know that my classmates and I have contributed to the community in working the vaccine clinic,” Pepper said. “Mississippi passed 1 million vaccinations earlier in April, and it is very cool to know that we were a part of such a well-run emergency operation.”
Originally from Ocean Springs, Pepper grew up in a Bulldog household, as both of his parents graduated from MSU.
“We have been going to football, baseball and basketball games for as long as I can remember, so I think that got me interested in the school,” Pepper said. “I am a huge sports fan, so attending all these sporting events made Mississippi State my team.”
After playing baseball for two years at Jones County Junior College, Pepper made his own way to Starkville to finish his pre-pharmacy requirements. In the fall of 2020, he moved to Oxford, but starting pharmacy school was far from normal, as the pandemic required virtual classes with limited in-person interaction.
Pepper knew no one, but it didn’t stop him from finding his way. He used social media to initiate “awkward conversation starters” with other student pharmacists who have become good friends.
“It has been really fun seeing Tate flourish during his first year from not knowing anyone to now having a strong support system of classmates and making an impact on campus,” said Adam Pate, clinical associate professor of pharmacy practice and Pepper’s faculty adviser. “Tate is an outstanding student who embodies the traits we look for in our future pharmacists.
“He’s hardworking, genuine, sharp and has a really bright career in our great profession ahead of him.”
Being a crucial part of the campus vaccination effort as well as learning during the COVID-19 pandemic has brought a new perspective for Pepper before entering the health care field.
“I think it is amazing when I realize how much work has gone into the vaccine, and what it takes for something like that to get approved,” Pepper said. “All in all, it makes me eager to learn more so that I can be a part of future solutions when the problems might present themselves.
“Participating in the vaccine clinic has really motivated me to challenge myself to get more involved, like finding other community service opportunities and getting involved in organizations.”
Pepper still has many things to look forward to as he works toward his Doctor of Pharmacy degree. He’s excited to learn more about the profession in his rotations at pharmacy sites across the state and region, as well as learning alongside the other professional schools when completing his final two years at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.
Receiving his bachelor’s degree at the 2021 Commencement and with one more degree to go from UM, the Hotty Toddy jokes probably won’t end for Pepper. He said he receives jokes from Ole Miss and MSU fans alike and even was given Ole Miss fan gear.
Pate, an Ole Miss alumnus, said that he and Pepper like to give each other a hard time during football and baseball seasons. Safe to say, though, that Pepper will stay a diehard Bulldog.
“It is pretty funny, but I will always be a State fan through and through,” Pepper said. “But I can be an Ole Miss pharmacy fan.”
Story by Whitney Tarpy/School of Pharmacy