Zara Risoldi Cochrane ’08 received her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Shenandoah University. “To me, Shenandoah was the perfect fit,” said Risoldi. “Shenandoah is a supportive atmosphere, it provides close personal relationships with faculty, and has a beautiful location that allows access to big city amenities while retaining a small town feel.” Risoldi also chose Shenandoah because of the university’s pre-admission program at the Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy, allowing her access pharmacy school immediately after her undergraduate studies. During her time at Shenandoah, Risoldi was part of the honors program as a freshman, studied abroad in Ireland and Argentina with Global Experiential Learning courses, traveled to the United Arab Emirates with the Global Citizenship Project, served as a resident assistant in Parker Hall, led the Campus Activities Network as president and was a member of Harambee Gospel Choir. “These experiences, as well as the insight and compassion of the faculty at Shenandoah, undoubtedly shaped my worldview,” said Risoldi. “It is because of this unique perspective that I am inspired to serve others and to think about my impact on the world around me.”
Risoldi is the assistant director of student affairs for Shenandoah’s Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy. Before this position, she was director of distance pharmacy education at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. Established at Creighton University in 2001, the distance pharmacy education program gives pharmacy students the distance pathway to completing the majority of their coursework online, returning to campus every summer to complete labs and hands-on activities. “The program has graduated over 700 pharmacists, with alumni working in every state in the nation and has another 300 students currently enrolled,” said Risoldi. She is also an associate professor at the Creighton University School of Pharmacy and Health Professions as well as the associate director of the Center for Drug Information & Evidence-Based Practice, in which she maintains a clinical practice site. “In this role, I help healthcare practitioners from across the nation make sound, evidence-based decisions about the medications they use and the care they provide to their patients,” Risoldi continued.
In both Risoldi’s career and in school, she obtained an incredible amount of global experiences. “I was part of a disaster relief team following the Haiti earthquake in 2010, working alongside doctors and nurses to care for trauma patients in a makeshift hospital,” said Risoldi. “I also spent three weeks in the rural mountains of the Dominican Republic as the pharmacist caring for hundreds of medical and dental patients, many of whom traveled hours or days to reach our clinic.” She also spent six weeks on a U.S. Navy hospital ship as part of the Pacific Partnership medical mission to Indonesia and the Philippines. “This experience was particularly rewarding because I was sent there to mentor two Shenandoah pharmacy students who were onboard completing a clinical experience as part of their training,” Risoldi continued.
Risoldi has received multiple awards for her outstanding service and experience, including the Spirit of Philanthropy Award from the American Red Cross in 2010, the SU Distinguished Alumna Award for Service to the Community in 2010, and the Presidential Volunteer Service Award – Gold Level in 2013. She most recently received the 2018 Faculty Service Award from Creighton University School of Pharmacy and Health Professions. Risoldi also served as a U.S. delegate at the World Conference on Online Learning. She currently serves on Board of Directors for the Nebraska Distance Learning Association.
Risoldi’s advice to students is: “Take advantage of your time in pharmacy school to gain experience in new practice settings, try out new skills and stretch your own limits. Choose a clinical rotation in a specialty you never thought you’d try. Complete your volunteer service hours at a place you’ve never been. Do something that scares you! There are many unique and innovative opportunities available for pharmacy practice, and your time as a student is your ‘free pass’ to try as many of them out as possible.”