Black History Month Feature: Phyllis Washington Gosa

Feb. 26, 2015

By Kasey Watkins

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – In the summer of 1974, Phyllis Washington Gosa took her first steps on the campus of Auburn University as a student. Two short years later, she not only graduated from the School of Pharmacy but was the first African-American female to do so.

In celebration of Black History Month, the Harrison School of Pharmacy was honored to have Phyllis Washington Gosa as a guest speaker on Feb. 18. The event was sponsored by the HSOP chapter of Phi Delta Chi.

Washington Gosa took a big step as the first African-American female to graduate from the Harrison School of Pharmacy. Even after her tenure at the Harrison School of Pharmacy, she continued to make great strides in the pharmacy profession with positions at the Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine, Good Samaritan Hospital in Selma, and Jackson Hospital in Montgomery. She is currently employed as a pharmacist at a Walmart is Selma.

A native of Tallasee, Alabama, she began her collegiate career at Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama before realizing she wanted to pursue a degree in pharmacy and transferring to Auburn where she received her Bachelor of Science degree.

“By chance, the university’s pharmacy school was recruiting at the Tuskegee Institute science building and I had been contemplating what I was going to do once I graduated from Tuskegee with a B.S. in biology,” said Gosa. “I happened to stumble upon two people who were practicing pharmacy and I thought that it would be a good choice for me.”

At Auburn University and the Harrison School of Pharmacy, the Auburn family is a theme that is constantly reiterated throughout the student body, faculty, and the community. The concept of the Auburn Family is important to Gosa.

“The Auburn Family is a place where we can all come and take advantage of the opportunities that this great university has to offer us and once you leave her, we still have established those roots and those friends,” said Gosa.

That Auburn Family has even transitioned into her own personal family legacy as her son is following in her footsteps as a pharmacist himself. Brian Gosa graduated from the Harrison School of Pharmacy in 2006.

“It makes me proud that not only did he choose to become a pharmacist but he chose to come to Auburn, said Gosa. “My son is a new face of the profession of where we would like pharmacy to go.”

Additionally, Gosa wants to leave a legacy on Auburn’s campus and in the Harrison School of Pharmacy that it does not matter where you come from but it’s all about what you do and what you take advantage of. She wants young pharmacy students to remember that pharmacy is not just about the financial gains but about caring for the patient.

People like Gosa truly inspire current pharmacy students such as Ebony Craig Jackson, who is also a female, African-American pharmacy student and was recently elected at the Student Council President for the Harrison School of Pharmacy.

“Mrs. Gosa is such a great inspiration,” said Jackson. “Mrs. Gosa lets me know that it doesn’t really matter where you come from but it’s about the drive that you have. She lets me know that the sky is the limit and there is nothing that I cannot do with people like her as trailblazers.”

Being the first African-American female student was very special to Gosa but she makes it clear that in the big picture, she is just a pharmacist first.

“I never for the most part felt that my race or sex played a big part in my experiences as a pharmacist because I was trained by the best,” Gosa said.

“I felt very comfortable in my work environment and I never let anyone make me feel less than. Those are my roots from my family and I knew that once I left from Auburn, I was well prepared from whatever I was confronted with.”

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About the Harrison School of Pharmacy
Auburn University’s Harrison School of Pharmacy is ranked among the top 20 percent of all pharmacy schools in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report. Fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), the School offers doctoral degrees in pharmacy (Pharm.D.) and pharmaceutical sciences (Ph.D.) while also offering a master’s in pharmaceutical sciences. In 2014, the school adopted the slogan, “Making Medications Work Through Innovative Research, Education and Patient Care.” For more information about the School, please call 334.844.8348 or visit http://pharmacy.auburn.edu.

Last Updated: Feb. 26, 2015