All in the Family

Carolyn and Gabe Newman give new meaning to Pharmily

Four people stand outside a brick building Auburn Pharmacy Family: Gabe Newman (’18), Robert Duncan Hall III (’58), Carolyn Wood Newman (’18), and Lauren Hall Driebe (’87).

May 18, 2018

AUBURN, Alabama – Those connected to Auburn University often talk of the “Auburn Family.” Even within the Harrison School of Pharmacy, the tight-knit nature of the school also brings references to family or even the “Pharmily.” But, for recent graduates Carolyn and Gabe Newman, those terms bring a whole separate meaning.

Less than a month after receiving their pharmacy degrees, the couple will celebrate their first wedding anniversary. The high school sweethearts’ connection to Auburn and pharmacy doesn’t stop there, though. Carolyn is actually a fourth-generation pharmacist and is the third generation of her family to graduate from HSOP. Her grandfather, Robert Duncan Hall III, graduated from Alabama Polytechnic Institute in 1958 with a degree in pharmacy and her aunt, Lauren Hall Driebe, earned her pharmacy degree from Auburn in 1987.

For Carolyn, the seeds were planted for a career in pharmacy from a very early age. The granddaughter of a pharmacist and a physician, she knew she wanted to work with patients.

“For as long as I can remember, I’ve always told my parents I wanted to be a pharmacist. I know now that at the time, I had no idea what a pharmacist even did but for some reason it was just something that always stuck with me growing up,” said Carolyn. “After I turned 16, I would work at my grandpa’s pharmacy every summer, which is when I truly started understanding pharmacy more. My other grandfather, Dr. Homer Wood, was the doctor in my hometown of Fort Gaines, Georgia.

“Being the doctor and pharmacist of such a small town, I truly saw the impact that my grandfathers made. I think growing up watching them interact with their patients and the citizens of the town made me want to be able to influence people as much as they did.”

Growing up in Ft. Gaines, Georgia, a small town on the Alabama-Georgia line with a population that hovers around 1,000, Carolyn was able to see the impact of a small-town community pharmacy.

Her great-grandfather owned and operated Hall Drug Company in nearby Blakely, Georgia and her grandfather went to work there following his graduation from Auburn. Her grandfather branched out and opened Hall Drug Company in Ft. Gaines in 1963 and hired his daughter, Lauren, after she graduated from Auburn. She eventually bought the pharmacy from him and owned it until she sold it in 2005. Lauren moved to Flagstaff, Arizona and opened Mortar and Pestle Compounding Pharmacy. She operated it until she sold it and retired in 2017.

“My grandpa and Aunt Lauren were extremely influential in me choosing to go to pharmacy school,” said Carolyn. “I remember being in awe of seeing how much they influenced their patients and how people respected them and trusted them. Both of them are so passionate about pharmacy and truly loved working which had a huge impact on me.”

Gabe’s path to pharmacy was a little different. While not from a family of pharmacists, he was still able to see the impact pharmacists and physicians made in small-town Abbeville, less than 15 miles and across the border from Carolyn in Ft. Gaines. The impact made by healthcare providers made an impression on the lifelong Auburn fan. After reading an article about the fastest growing jobs in the country while a junior in high school, a list that included pharmacists, it was a done deal that he would make his way to Auburn.

Around that same time, Gabe and Carolyn started dating while they attended Abbeville Christian Academy and the plan became a mutual one.

Gabe had an opportunity to play football at Troy University and followed that opportunity to play for the Trojans under former Auburn quarterback Larry Blakeney. Carolyn followed him to Troy and the pair graduated in 2014 with degrees in biomedical sciences.

The next step to Auburn did not come without a little drama. The couple interviewed at the Harrison School of Pharmacy on the same day. While driving back to Troy, Carolyn got a phone call from HSOP Director of Recruiting Dr. Charles Woosley.

“I was driving 80 miles per hour looking at Carolyn to try and see any indication of what the results of the call could be,” said Gabe. “The phone call would either make us, or possibly break us, as well as break the dream we had of going to HSOP together that we held to so tightly for the first five years of our time as a couple.”

A couple minutes into the phone call, Carolyn looked to Gabe and mouthed “I got in,” but Dr. Woosley had not said anything about Gabe.

“I was beyond thrilled but then my heart dropped because Gabe was sitting in the driver’s seat and Dr. Woosley didn’t say anything about him,” said Carolyn. “Finally, I was ending the phone call with Dr. Woosley and he said, ‘You can go ahead and tell the guy next to you, he’s accepted too.’ That is a definitely a moment I will never forget and when our dreams finally started becoming a reality.”

Going through a professional program like pharmacy is challenging. The courses are difficult, the expectations are high and the amount of time involved can be demanding. For Carolyn and Gabe, they had the unique situation of going through each and every step of pharmacy school with their significant other and are grateful for it.

“It has been so refreshing having Gabe by my side throughout the past four years,” said Carolyn. “Instead of having to explain why I was so stressed out or why my anxiety was through the roof, he already knew and understood. He is also an encourager, which I needed pretty much daily, but he always knew what to say to keep me going.

“He always tells people that he couldn’t have done it without me, but I don’t think I could have done it without him either. I feel blessed to have been able to experience this journey with him.”

The couple went to undergrad together, interviewed together, went to classes together, attended conferences together and were even lab partners every year. That is a lot of time together for any couple, but Gabe says that all the time with Carolyn was his motivation to continue working to the end goal.

“To begin college, Carolyn motivated me to study simply by being my girlfriend, and the fact that I wanted to do well for her and eventually get into HSOP together,” said Gabe. “While that feeling and motivation never went away, the more classes we had together, the method of the motivation reaching my brain changed slightly. The motivation Carolyn provided me became a bit more deliberate. As our classes and test schedules began to coincide, Carolyn thought that if she was studying, that I should be too, and she told me as much very often.”

Following their P3 year, after more than 10 years together, Carolyn and Gabe were married. Less than a year later, the couple participated in another ceremony as they crossed the stage in Auburn Arena to receive their pharmacy degrees. Now with the same last name, Carolyn crossed the stage first with Gabe immediately behind her.

“After nine years of college for me, to cross the finish line together, one after another, seems like a dream come true. Because that’s exactly what it is,” said Gabe.

For Carolyn, now a fourth generation pharmacist, graduation is a big deal not just for her, but for the whole family.

“This is something I have thought about and dreamed about for so many years,” said Carolyn. “There have been so many times I didn’t think it would ever happen but now it is. My mom told me that she didn’t cry at my high school graduation or when I got married, but she just may cry when I walk across the stage and become a pharmacist. I have so many emotions-- excited, terrified, anxious to name a few-- of what is to come but this is what I have worked so hard for and it’s finally here.”

With degrees in hand, the couple is now entering the workforce. Carolyn has accepted a position with Walgreens in Dothan, Alabama while Gabe plans to work in an independent pharmacy.

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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. For more information about the School, please call 334.844.8348 or visit http://pharmacy.auburn.edu.

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Last Updated: May 18, 2018