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November 30, 2011

All in the Phamily

South University Newsroom

Robert Cummings and Rachel Cummings
Doctor of Pharmacy
Class of Spring 2011
Savannah Campus

“If I didn’t understand something, she did; and if she didn’t understand it, I did.”

When South University celebrated its graduates at commencement this year, the School of Pharmacy’s Class of 2011 included a first for the School: a brother-sister pair who both earned their doctoral degrees on the same day. 

Being students together was nothing new for Robert and Rachel Cummings, who were in some of the same science classes at Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Georgia. But in pharmacy school, they had almost every class together — and shared an apartment.

“It was nice to have someone to live with and study with who I knew so well,” says Robert, who is a year older than Rachel. “And it always seemed to work out that if I didn’t understand something, she did; and if she didn’t understand it, I did.”

But the Cummings siblings, who were both born in Atlanta and grew up in a series of towns across southern Georgia, did much more at South University than just study.

There was a Cummings involved in almost every student organization. Robert was class president one year, president of Rho Chi (pharmacy’s academic honor society), secretary of both the Pharmacy Student Leadership Council and Phi Lambda Sigma (the national pharmacy leadership society), and active in the American Pharmacists Association (AphA).

Not to be outdone by her older brother, Rachel was class secretary for two years, and president of Pharmacy Student Leadership Council. She was also a member of Phi Lambda Sigma, Rho Chi, the Christian Pharmacy Fellowship International, and Kappa Epsilon (the professional pharmacy fraternity).

It might seem logical to assume the Cummings would go into pharmacy, considering their mother is a pharmacist. But the influence was not always that straightforward.

“When I was young, I’m not even sure I knew that my mom had a job,” admits Rachel, who now works at a Wal-Mart pharmacy in Valdosta. But with a pharmacist mother and a father who was a music director, and later a minister, helping others was definitely in the blood.

“I knew early on that pharmacy was for me,” says Robert, who works at South Georgia Medical Center in Valdosta. “My mother was a big influence, and I always enjoyed science.”

Rachel liked science too, and knew early on that she wanted to be in the medical field, but nearly broke the family mold – by flirting with dental school. In the end, she chose compounding over cavities, and the siblings applied to pharmacy schools at the same time.

Rachel and Robert both interviewed at South University on the same day. They knew immediately that South University was for the Cummings.