Thursday, February 3, 2022

As we celebrate Black History Month, it’s important to pause and remember the achievements of African Americans in our pharmacy history. Two trailblazing alumni are featured below: Eugene Hickman Sr., '59 PhD, and Lorena Suggs, '21 PhG.

Eugene Hickman Sr. 
First African American to receive a PhD from the UI College of Pharmacy

Eugene Hickman Sr., '59 PhD, was a major force in the education of African American pharmacists in the United States. Hickman, while teaching at Texas Southern University between 1959 to 1998, helped to graduate 33 percent of the nation's black pharmacists. A superior teacher and extraordinary mentor, Hickman inspired a new generation of pharmacists and other medical professionals.

His academic career began at Texas Southern University, and he completed a four-year pharmacy program in three years. Hickman then obtained his master's degree at the University of Texas's College of Pharmacy; he was one of two African American students admitted to the graduate program. He continued his education at the UI College of Pharmacy, where he became the first African American to receive a PhD in pharmacy at the university. After graduating, he returned to Texas Southern University to teach. In his time as a faculty member, Hickman created a legacy of African American representation in medicine that contributed to the overall evolution of pharmacy practice and higher education. 

As a result of his dedication to clearing the road to higher education and in view of the excellence of his work, Hickman's services were recognized through numerous awards and citations. He was the recipient of the University of Iowa Distinguished Alumni Service Award in 2000. 

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Eugene Hickman
Lorena Suggs
First African American woman to graduate from the UI College of Pharmacy

Lorena Suggs, '21 PhG, was the first African American woman to graduate from the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy. Beyond her academic accomplishments, Suggs was also a trailblazer in athletics. In 1921, she won first place in the 75 and 100-yard dashes at the first major women's athletic track and field competition conducted by the Women's Athletic Association (WAA) on the University of Iowa campus. Despite placing second overall, she was the only female athlete who did not receive an award for her performance at the awards ceremony. Even without recognition, Suggs' performance set a precedent for other African American women to follow in women's athletics at the University of Iowa. 

Not only did she make history in pharmacy, she also help to combat the stereotypes about African Americans, both women and men, competing in sports at major universities. After graduation, Suggs moved to Chicago where she became a registered pharmacist in the state of Illinois. 

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Lorena Suggs