By Patricia O’Dell
Maqual Graham, Pharm.D., the associate dean for academic affairs and professor for the School of Pharmacy, recently endowed the Cynthia Infranca Kind and Caring Scholarship to honor her mother, who retired from her position as department assistant two years ago.
“My mom was a great liaison for our division,” says Graham of Infranca, who was the department’s assistant for five years. “She was the first person students or faculty would encounter. She worked tirelessly. You could count on her to be here early and stay until every task was finished. The students and faculty really appreciated that.”
The criteria for consideration for the scholarship favors those “who exhibit continual kindness and caring towards others. Deserving students should display loyalty to their peers, their patients and the practice of pharmacy.” Preference is also given to students interested in studying at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
“My dad and my mother’s father were both veterans,” says Graham. “I purposely trained at the VA through my residency. I’ve always had a soft spot for veterans.”
The VA was important to both Graham and Infranca. It was during Graham’s residency that she hired her mother as her assistant.
When Graham moved to the administrative office as director at the School of Pharmacy, the dean suggested Infranca should make the transition with her. Infranca worked as the pharmacy department’s assistant from 2011 until she retired two years ago.
“She wasn’t working for me anymore. She was the administrative assistant for the department of pharmacy practices, so not everyone realized she was my mother. Once people made the connection there were so many unsolicited comments about how helpful she was. She really is the sweetest person,” says Graham.
Steven Stoner, Ph.D., the chair of pharmacy practice and administration, agrees.
“Mrs. Infranca always had things under control. She put other people’s interests ahead of her own and treated her peers, faculty and students with the highest level of respect. She was a one-of-a-kind co-worker.”
These qualities led Graham to include her mother’s attributes in the name and criteria for the scholarship. Graham believes these qualities are essential to patient care.
“We are in an environment where people are not always kind. In health care you can know everything you need to know to take care of a patient, but if you’re not nice you may not be effective.”
Beyond that, Graham wanted to establish this honor while her mother is still alive.
“I wanted her to see it. And it was great for her to be here to meet the first recipient. It’s a way for her to come back and still be a part of the school.
Hayat Hassan, who is in her fourth year of the pharmacy program, was honored to be the first recipient.
“Receiving a scholarship with the core values of kind and caring is flattering and empowering. Personally, I found the scholarship to be very meaningful not only financially, but also emotionally as it has strengthened my belief in myself.”
Graham knows this exactly what her mother would want to hear.
“She enjoys the students so much. She always put their successes first.”