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June 01, 2009

Leadership Found

South University Newsroom

Maria Alvarado Manning
Doctor of Pharmacy
Savannah Campus
Class of 2009

To say Maria Alvarado Manning is a friendly, outgoing student with a bright future as a pharmacist is an understatement.  Today, she is a leader among her peers in many ways, not the least of which is shown by her role as president of the American Pharmacist Association – Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) at South University in Savannah.  However, not too long ago, her situation was somewhat different.

A quiet child, to say the least, at age five Maria’s family decided to move from San Juan, Puerto Rico to Leesburg, Florida.  No sooner had her family settled in their new surroundings than the young Maria was diagnosed with selective mutism. Whenever she found herself in uncomfortable public situations, she withdrew into the best comfort she could find among crowds, a personal silence.

“At home, I was encouraged. I observed and admired my family. My father was a doctor and my mom a teacher who worked with autistic children. And I had an aunt who was a pharmacist. I watched family members I love take care of one another,” Maria says, admitting that many of her strong aspirations to practice pharmacy were incited by family and friends.

“I’ve also watched several family members battle diabetes,” a history Maria says fuels her resolve to specialize in treating the disease, as Maria’s currently on her first step to receive her Doctorate of Pharmacy at South University.

Looking back, it’s hard not to see the great light of encouragement her family has been for Maria, moving her further down the road to helping others. However, Maria’s own hard work has been proven as well.

“One of the most amazing things I’ve discovered about myself at South is my ability to organize people and motivate groups to work for the things they care about.  I’m no longer the ‘shy one.’  In fact, the conferences I’ve been able to attend, the leadership opportunities in student activities – all that I’ve found at South have allowed me not only to grow professionally, but to break further out of that quiet place I used to know.”