During her high school years, Dr. Ariel Richardson of Jupiter knew she wanted to pursue a career in the health care field where she could make a difference in people’s health and overall well-being.
At the encouragement of faculty at Jupiter Christian School, she decided to become a pharmacist.
“At that point, I knew little about pharmacy other than occasional times my sisters and I would get sick and need to go through the drive-through pharmacy,” Richardson said.
Dr. Jefferson Gregory, vice chairman of Gregory Pharmaceutical Holdings, Inc., presents the Outstanding Graduate Award to Dr. Ariel Richardson during the hooding ceremony for the Lloyd L. Gregory School of Pharmacy at Palm Beach Atlantic University.
The Christian education, small class sizes and exceptional pharmacy program at Palm Beach Atlantic University appealed to her, she said.
Richardson entered PBA as a medicinal and biological chemistry major and later was admitted into the pharmacy school, where she exceled in her classes and was active in several student organizations.
Her achievements included being named to the Dean’s List for four semesters and being inducted into the Rho Chi academic honor society and the Phi Lambda Sigma leadership honor society.
During the pharmacy school’s hooding ceremony in May, Richardson learned she had been selected for the Gregory Outstanding Graduate Award, the most prestigious honor presented by the Gregory School of Pharmacy which includes a $10,000 prize.
The award recognizes the graduating senior in the top 10 percent of his or her class who has demonstrated a continual devotion to his or her faith and the desire to integrate faith into his or her practice. Gregory Award recipients also have shown excellence in both health-related and community volunteer projects.
Richardson’s volunteer work has included devoting countless hours to the middle and high school youth department at her church, Living Oaks Church in Palm Beach Gardens.
“It truly encourages me to be able to pour out to students’ lives and share the message and love of Jesus Christ, as well as my experiences, at such a vital time in their lives. It has been so rewarding to see students transformed and making a difference in their communities,” she said.
She also led four mission trips for her church to Casa Shalom Orphanage in Guatemala.
“Each of the times I have served at Casa Shalom, I have learned so much from the children and staff there. They have taught me what true joy in Christ looks like and how God's spirit can bring a peace that transcends all understanding and human reasoning,” she said.
She also participated in the 2015 Honduras medical mission trip with the pharmacy school, where the team looked to her as the spiritual leader, said Assistant Dean for Academics Dr. Dana Brown, who accompanied the students on the trip.
“She is extremely grounded in her faith, and I believe this trip was a great opportunity for her spiritual and professional worlds to collide,” Brown said. “On this trip, Ariel had the opportunity to apply her didactic knowledge through dosing, compounding, dispensing and counseling. And she was able to share the love of Jesus with the patients through her interactions in counseling and patient visits with the doctor.”
In addition, she was proactive in helping the team with whatever need arose, Brown said. “She is truly an example of a servant leader.”
Richardson’s future plans are to practice pharmacy locally. Her husband, Jared Richardson, also attended PBA and graduated in 2014.
“Wherever God leads me in my career, I am thankful for the principles and experiences I gained at PBA and the Gregory School of Pharmacy,” she said. “I look forward to seeing how God uses me to make an impact in the field of pharmacy.”