Thursday, September 29, 2022

Pharmacy Alumnus Recognized for 30 Consecutive Years of Giving

Francis Cerniglia Courtesy Ole Miss News
Francis Cerniglia
Courtesy Ole Miss News

Supporting the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy is second nature to Francis Cerniglia of Cordova, Tennessee. It is so second nature, in fact, that he didn’t realize he had been giving to the school every year for three decades.

“It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long,” said Cerniglia, who earned his bachelor’s degree from the school in 1959. “I’m gratified to know that my money is doing good things for students.”

On a recent visit to his home in Cordova, pharmacy’s development director Raina McClure asked Cerniglia about his time at pharmacy school and what he remembers most about his early career.

“One of my favorite memories of pharmacy school is going on a trip to the Eli Lilly laboratory,” Cerniglia said. “I remember Dean Hammond well, and other faculty members.”

A Greenwood native, Cerniglia’s first experience in pharmacy was during a summer internship at Chaney’s Pharmacy in his hometown. Earnings were quite different back then – Cerniglia made $50 a week in his early days at the store and said he was very satisfied with it.

“That was a new experience for me as I hadn’t had much experience filling prescriptions yet,” he said. “I had to quickly apply what I learned in the classroom.”

After graduating from pharmacy school, Cerniglia went to work for Morgan’s Pharmacy in Yazoo City. It was an “old-timey” pharmacy where the “smell of medicine would knock you out,” he said.

In time, Cerniglia landed a position with Walgreens in the Vicksburg area. Although it was a different experience, Cerniglia realized that working for a chain pharmacy suited him well. He worked there for eight years before it was time to relocate.

“I could have gone to New Orleans,” he said. “Though I love it there, I decided to work in Memphis.”

Cerniglia worked for Walgreens in Memphis for 32 years. He retired in 1992. He has spent much of his retirement attending Ole Miss football games and being active in the Rebel Club of Memphis.

The most rewarding part of giving back is hearing from the students themselves, Cerniglia said.

“I really appreciated getting thank-you letters from the students who have received scholarships,” he said. “The ones who wrote to me are really doing great things.”

David D. Allen, the pharmacy school’s dean, is thankful for Cerniglia’s support.

“When visiting with Mr. Cerniglia, you can see that he has a great love for all things Ole Miss, especially the School of Pharmacy,” Allen said. “I know I speak on behalf of everyone at the school when I say that we are extremely thankful and humbled by his support over the years.”

McClure said that consecutive gifts are critical to the development mission of the school.

“It is heartwarming to see alumni like Mr. Cerniglia that have had a successful pharmacy career give back over their lifetime to their alma mater,” she said. “It is my hope that other pharmacy alumni will follow Mr. Cerniglia’s example of loyal giving.”

Courtesy Erin Garrett & Ole Miss News

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