Academics Arts & Sciences College of Pharmacy Research Student Life

Niya Jeter, a pharmacy senior at Xavier University of Louisiana, has been selected for the Senior Commissioned Officer Student Training and Extern Program (SRCOSTEP) with the US Public Health Services (USPHS). The program provides an opportunity for students entering their final year of graduate school or professional training to get paid an officer's salary while in school, in exchange for a two-year commitment as a USPHS Commissioned Officer upon graduation.

July 08, 2021

Niya Jeter found a home and an extended family at Xavier University of Louisiana, far away from the one she was born and raised in. Growing up in Prince George's County, Maryland, Niya Jeter always felt her true calling was to become a doctor. She was inspired by her compassion for others and she planned to work with babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Jeter’s interest in Xavier ignited because she learned that it was a university well-known for sending African American students to medical school. Armed with this knowledge, Jeter applied for one of Xavier’s summer programs. 

Xavier provides several instructional summer opportunities for high school students in preparation for university life. The SOAR X program, formerly known as eXcel, is a program designed to target high school juniors and seniors is an on-campus residential opportunity. The Stress on Analytical Reasoning program (SOAR) is the flagship XULA Pre-College Program. It’s a 4-week intensive on-campus program that allows students to customize their summer experience and collaborate with peers from all over the country and the world. Students choose between two tracks: SOAR X STEM, focusing on pandemics and public health disparities, and SOAR X Humanities, focusing on protest and civil disobedience. 

Niya Jeter at SOAR X

Jeter recalls the experience of sleeping in college dorms, ACT test preparation courses with friends and tours of the city of New Orleans. Jeter knew then that New Orleans would become her next home. Almost six years later, she is still best friends with those she met during her time in the summer program. 

As Niya Jeter was introduced to the world of medicine, Xavier also introduced her to the world of pharmacy, which inadvertently sparked another interest. 

“My mind was set on becoming a doctor when I came to Xavier. I knew it was what I wanted to do, but then Xavier introduced me to another way of helping people that I had never considered before, pharmacy. Once I learned that I could still work in hospitals, in the NICU, as a pharmacist, I was eager to know more,” said Jeter.

Niya has succeeded and excelled in Xavier’s College of Pharmacy. After an extensive and competitive application process, involving essays and letters of recommendation, she was selected for the 2021 Senior Commissioned Officer Student Training and Extern Program (SRCOSTEP) with the US Public Health Services (USPHS). As part of the program, Jeter will begin her career in pharmacy immediately after graduation by serving in a Native American hospital as a pharmacist for the Indian Health Service. She recognizes the direct parallels between her future responsibilities and the goals and mission of Mother Katharine Drexel, foundress of Xavier University of Louisiana. 

“I think it’s very symbolic that Mother Katharine Drexel had a goal of helping the African and Native American communities and now I have the opportunity to do the same thing.  I am honored,” said Niya. “I feel Xavier has prepared me through hands-on learning experiences and a nurturing environment. I’ve learned so much and the fact that I already have a job is amazing. I am thankful and proud to have an opportunity to serve the underserved. One of my goals in life is to give back and this is a great way to start.”

Jeter is scheduled to graduate in May of 2022.




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Sara al-Dahir, PharmD, and her team in the College of Pharmacy were selected by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to present their research on vaccine hesitancy to the Biden administration. The research project was developed in response to the NIH sending a Notice of Special Interest (NSI) offering funding for research done on COVID-19 testing in the summer of 2020. Dr. Al-Dahir’s team went the extra step to focus solely on vaccine hesitancy in the African American community.

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