Scholarship Alumni

Cardinal Health is proud to support students who are passionate about retail independent pharmacy. Hear from scholarship recipients about their future ownership aspirations.


Our past pharmacy scholarship winners:


Lisa Garza

  • 2013 Cardinal Health Retail Independent Pharmacy Scholarship recipient
  • Graduated from Washington State University
  • Currently works at Katterman’s Sandpoint Pharmacy in Seattle, Wash.

After I competed in the NCPA student business plan competition, I knew I wanted a career as an independent pharmacy owner. Since then, I have tried to learn as much about ownership as possible, and have stayed engaged with NCPA. I also completed a community pharmacy residency at Middleport Family Health Center, an independent pharmacy in New York. My residency gave me a chance to put everything I had learned into action and to be mentored by people who knew how to successfully run a pharmacy.

I am really happy with where I am working now, and with the direction of my career, and I think I have had many opportunities that others have not. I feel like I am right on track, so it is hard to identify a major setback. However, a hurdle that I am anticipating in the future is balancing paying off my student loan debt with buying a pharmacy.

Pharmacy ownership is more than just a career; it is a different way of life. The idea of owning a pharmacy may be intimidating, but it is possible and you can do it if you have the right mindset. Go out there and meet the people who do this every day and decide for yourself if this is the type of career you want. Pharmacy owners are some of the best and most generous people I have ever had the privilege to know, so don't be afraid to approach them. You might be surprised at what you find and where it leads you.



Erik Nelson

  • 2012 Cardinal Health Retail Independent Pharmacy Scholarship recipient
  • Graduated from Washington State University
  • Currently owns Sixth Avenue Medical Pharmacy in Spokane, Wash.


I actually became an owner in October 2013, five months after graduating from pharmacy school, when I purchased Sixth Avenue Medical Pharmacy from its original owner. In February of 2015, I completed a buyout of a second pharmacy and now serve that pharmacy’s patients from our Sixth Avenue Medical Pharmacy location.

The biggest hurdle by far has been learning to manage people, understanding different people’s work styles and personalities. Learning how to lead and manage a team to get goals accomplished is a daily learning experience for me. They don’t really teach you personnel management in pharmacy school, so it been trial-by-fire for me. Learning the proper steps for handling tough employee situations makes for some quick learning!

Don’t be scared; anyone with motivation can be a pharmacy owner. Just surround yourself with a good network of mentors to bounce ideas off of, and most of all, have fun. Ownership is a lot of work, but ultimately it will all pay off.



Mutaz Ahmad

  • 2013 Cardinal Health Retail Independent Pharmacy Scholarship recipient
  • Graduated from University of Southern California School of Pharmacy
  • Currently works for a retail pharmacy chain in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

Currently, I work at a retail store to help me save money toward buying a pharmacy; and I am meeting with independent owners to learn from them. Ideally, I'd like to enter into a junior partnership with an independent pharmacy.

The biggest hurdle has been the up-front cost of purchasing a pharmacy and also finding a seller who has a well-established business. To help overcome this hurdle, I've been working full time for a retail pharmacy to help save money for the up-front cost of owning a pharmacy.

My advice is to stay focused on your goal of owning a pharmacy and also to take elective courses that teach students how to buy a pharmacy and build a business plan. I found that these types of classes allowed me to network with the right people to help me achieve my goals. I would also advise students to reach out to independent owners and to Cardinal Health for help, support and assistance on the path to buying or owning a pharmacy.