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More than Counting Pills: Pharmacy student makes most of scholarship

Pharmacy student and Butte native Haley Cote is the first recipient of the Dean David Forbes Scholarship, a scholarship the dean of the College of Health Professions and Biomedical Sciences funds himself.

"Since I was a little kid, I wanted to do something with medicine," says Cote, who combines deep Montana roots with academic excellence and broad goals.   

"I feel honored and grateful," Cote adds. She considers the dean "a great, great man."

Like other students in the Skaggs School of Pharmacy doctoral program, Cote is responsible for a supplementary fee on top of the standard UM tuition. The $2,100 scholarship, designed to help offset this fee, is awarded to a pharmacy student on the basis of academic merit and financial need. 

Dean Forbes chose to fund the scholarship because he knows students need financial help and because he himself received scholarship aid in school. He hopes that scholarship recipients will continue to pay the generosity forward by creating their own scholarships when they are established in their careers.

Cote has been an exceptional student throughout her time at UM. "If you could clone Haley, you would," says Lori Morin, assistant dean for student affairs at the School of Pharmacy. Morin calls Cote a "role model" and an extraordinarily "personable, nice, involved" student.

Cote cites a number of reasons for going into the field. "I guess everyone says this, but I really like helping people," she says. The flexibility a pharmacy degree affords as to workplace and lifestyle also attracted Haley to pharmacy.  A pharmacist can work in settings ranging from hospitals to community pharmacies, Cote says. Further, pharmacy work will give her time for her personal life.

Cote learned a love of serving the public in Gamers Café, her parents’ restaurant, where she worked from the age of 14. A formative experience, waiting tables taught Cote "people skills" and allowed her to form relationships with customers. She still works at the Butte restaurant on visits to her parents. Being a pharmacist will allow her to keep working with people, Cote says.

A final reason for Cote's choice is the exciting directions in which pharmacy is moving. Under so-called "collaborative practice agreements," pharmacists aren't just counting pills anymore. Depending on the state, they can sometimes monitor, change and even initiate medication regimens. Cote hopes to see laws become more accommodating to this shift. 

Cote keeps busy with schoolwork and has a strong academic record. She cites achieving her academic goals - gaining admission to the School of Pharmacy on her first try and succeeding there - as both the greatest challenge she faced and her greatest source of pride.   

Although she has recently taken up knitting and likes to read and travel, she has little free time. Focused and hardworking, she calls herself a "perfectionist" and a "Type A personality." She explains, "School takes up a lot of my time, and I've done very well at it."

Even so, she is, according to Morin, "very active" in the Rho Chi Society, an academic honors society for students of pharmacy. She is a member of the Kappa Psi Pharmaceutical Fraternity, Inc., and the American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists.

She is active in the community as well, organizing non-food pantry drives for Open Aid Alliance, a Missoula organization dedicated to supporting people with HIV, hepatitis C and other health issues. 

Cote's family has lived in Butte for generations. Cote hopes to settle and work as a pharmacist in Montana, ideally in Missoula, which will put her close to her family, but her plans stretch beyond state borders. Her next step will be a residency out of state before she returns to Montana.

Without her parents, Cote couldn't have gotten to where she is now, she says. She is glad that the scholarship takes some of the burden off their shoulders. Cote says scholarships like the Dean David Forbes Scholarship are "unbelievably important." While she always knew she would go to college and could count on her parents' support, she notes that other students might not be able to go to school at all without scholarship awards.