In two-and-a-half months, Cherika Johnson will graduate from the University of Cincinnati School of Pharmacy in Cincinnati, Ohio. “Having classes online since COVID has been difficult,” said Cherika. “I had a few months online and then started clinical rotations at local pharmacies and hospitals. Some externships were virtual while others were in-person wearing PPE.” Since the pandemic, Cherika has performed rapid testing on patients and administered the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to eligible patients that live in the Cincinnati area.
This is the way Cherika does life...Fast and Furious. Friends and family joke about her activity level. She’s always busy and sometimes too busy.
Born in Paducah, KY, Cherika has strong family ties to the area. Parents, Mario and Angela Johnson were high school sweethearts and graduated from Paducah Tilghman High School. “Almost all of my family lives in Paducah,’ she said. “I have a brother that’s two-and-a-half years younger than me and lots of cousins.”
Cherika’s family are parishioners at Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church in Paducah. The historic church was established three-quarters of a century ago and landed in its current place in the late 70’s. Cherika’s dad is a deacon there. The family remains faithful servants of the Lord and part of the flock shepherded by Pastor Dr. Calvin Cole, Sr. and First Lady Fannie Cole.
The Johnsons moved to West Paducah when Cherika was in middle school. While attending high school, the main focus was academics. She was a member of the National Honor Society and President of FCCLA (Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America) her senior year. During her junior and senior years, Cherika worked part-time at GoPerformance & Fitness SportsPlex spending the summer before going to college working at Rick’s Pharmacy at 3001 Schneidman Road.
After graduating from Heath High School in 2013, Cherika left for the University of Kentucky in Lexington to study nutrition. “I changed majors several times,” she said. “After taking a general nutrition class, I realized how much I liked it and how well it would enhance my knowledge as a future pharmacist.” Cherika said she always knew she wanted a career in healthcare.
Some people have a natural drive and work ethic that presses them to push the envelope. Outside of regular college classes, Cherika conquered more than academia. She was a RA (Residential Advisor) for three years as an undergraduate. Cherika served two years as President of the National Residence Hall Honorary and organized the largest UK residency hall banquet both years. She was a member of the first black Greek letter sorority in the country Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. and served as the treasurer, chaplain, and co-service chair.
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. began with nine college students on the campus of Howard University in 1908. Howard University is a private, federally chartered historically black research university in Washington D.C. Since the sorority’s humble beginnings, it has expanded into a worldwide organization of nearly 300,000 members. The sorority is empowered by sisterhood and commitment to a servant leadership domestically and internationally. Vice President of the United States Soror Kamala Harris is a member of the dynamic sisterhood. With renewed vigor, this organization is making things happen.
Cherika understands the concept of servanthood and the idea of making the world a better place. She’s a person that forgoes spring break to help those in need. During her freshman year, she opted for an alternative service break trip to Washington D.C. to help the homeless.
After graduating in 2017, Cherika was accepted to the University of Cincinnati School of Pharmacy. “School was difficult; we learn everything that medical students learn but with more emphasis on how the various treatment options/medications for disease states work in the body and how they can affect the body.”
During all four academic years in the professional program, Cherika worked as a Kroger Pharmacy Intern. “While in pharmacy school, we were encouraged to work as interns,” she said. “I also worked for one year at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center as an Inpatient Pharmacy Intern.” Ultimately, being able to work in two very different settings of pharmacy care, Cherika preferred the hospital over retail pharmacy. She hopes to work in either a hospital or primary care setting after graduating.
“The role of a pharmacist in healthcare is changing,” said Cherika. “In many states, pharmacists work with physicians to decide best treatment options or will manage certain patients with disease states like diabetes or hypertension.” This type of care is Ambulatory Care Pharmacy.
Cherika likes working alongside physicians and being involved in the ‘continuity of care’ for patients. “My best friend was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare childhood cancer, at 16. She fought her cancer for over four years and passed away in 2015”
For this reason and others, Cherika’s passion includes more involvement with patient care as the driving force in her decision to seek the new direction as a pharmacist. Losing your best friend during adolescence is shocking and confusing. Being involved in not only the medication aspect of patient care but the more personal approach to treating the whole person is where Cherika believes she can make an impact.
For fun, Cherika enjoys traveling, trying out new restaurants, visiting museums, and working jigsaw puzzles. Two of her favorite travel destinations are Spain and Australia. She also likes to pack a punch at the local boxing gym. And it’s no wonder, Dad Mario Johnson is a performance coach and has always been on the cutting edge of helping local athletes improve their skills. The Johnson family embraces the love of sports.
Cherika is a hardworking, dedicated, and motivated young woman who enjoys exercising in the morning, making a positive impact on patient lives, and hanging out with friends, family and her dog. As she prepares for graduation in 2021 as a PharmD candidate, her sights are set on North Carolina. Her ideal career involves collaborating with physicians on best treatment options for patients when prescribing medications for various illnesses. Life is just beginning and what a beautiful life.