A Journey Back Home

Published on 20 December 2017

At the age of 7, Dena Badran moved from St. Louis to Amman, Jordan, for two years to learn Arabic and gain a better understanding of her family’s culture. Years later, Badran yearned to travel back to the place she once called home. As a P3 student at St. Louis College of Pharmacy, Badran was offered the opportunity to return through an internship with Hikma Pharmaceuticals PLC.

As a student in the Doctor of Pharmacy program, Badran learned of the commonalities she shares with another member of the College community — Samih Darwazah, M.S. ’64, Hon. D.Sc. ’10, founder of Hikma Pharmaceuticals. In addition to their relationship with the College, both share Palestinian roots, a connection to Amman, Jordan, and a deep desire to make a difference in pharmacy.

Over the years, the Darwazah family has made an impact on pharmacy education. Samih Darwazah worked closely with President John A. Pieper, Pharm.D., FCCP, FAPhA, to provide guidance in the development of a pharmacy program at Birzeit University in Birzeit, West Bank. His son, Mazan Darwazah, executive vice chairman and chief executive of MENA and emerging markets at Hikma, serves on the Board of Trustees at the College.

“There are successful pharmacists all over the world, and it is the most amazing thing to me when I hear about successful Palestinians in pharmacy,” Badran said. “I discovered my passion for industrial pharmacy after learning about the Darwazah family’s accomplishments within the profession.”

Inspired by their accomplishments and with some encouragement from Pieper, Badran informed Mazan Darwazah of the many similarities she shares with his family and her desire to learn more about the pharmaceutical industry in Jordan. After meeting Mazan Darwazah while he was on campus, Badran was offered a summer internship.

“I always knew that the two years I spent in Amman as a child shaped who I am and helped me have a clear understanding of my culture,” she said. “Being able to return and learn more about something I’m passionate about is an experience that will remain with me.”

While at Hikma Pharmaceuticals, Badran worked in a variety of departments such as engineering, supply chain, validation, calibration, research and development, medical affairs and research, and marketing.

“I always saw myself pursuing community pharmacy because I have had such fulfilling experiences serving patients,” she said. “Now I see myself being more globally minded. I see myself as a global citizen in a global industry.”

Badran’s experience provided her with a view of the world that she never dreamed possible. After seeing the value placed on maintaining a positive patient experience in the pharmaceutical industry, her perspective as a student pharmacist changed.

“Traveling to other countries expands the way you view the world, and you can learn something new from every person you come across in life,” she said. “At Hikma, I saw that every decision made — every step forward — is focused on bettering the patient experience.”

Upon returning to St. Louis, Badran reflects on how much her outlook on the profession and her plans for the future have been influenced by her time in Jordan. After graduation, she plans to pursue a career in industrial pharmacy because of her experience at Hikma Pharmaceuticals.

“As future pharmacists, it’s so easy to be focused on helping one specific community or patient population, but pharmacy also offers the opportunity to think broader on a global scale,” she said.

This story was first published in the fall 2017 issue of Script. Visit stlcop.edu/script to read more and access previous issues.

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