Autumn Alvarez ’02 always wanted to find a career in the medical field. She initially wanted to be a medical doctor, but was always interested in pharmacy because her mom had been a pharmacy technician since she was five years old. Alvarez studied biology in her undergraduate studies and then followed the path of her mother and received her doctor of pharmacy from Shenandoah in 2002.
“I was in the third graduating class at the Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy and at the time, Shenandoah was probably the most technologically progressive school in the state of Virginia,” explained Alvarez. “The faculty at Shenandoah were fabulous and I learned so much, but they also taught me where to go to find information that I didn’t know; they prepared me to be prepared.”
In the fall of 2012, Alvarez celebrated her 10th reunion from Shenandoah. It was at this point that she realized how much she wanted to get involved with the activities for alumni, so she decided to join the Alumni Board of Directors.
“I want to give back to Shenandoah because of all that I received from Shenandoah!” Alvarez commented. “I received a great education, so whether I’m precepting SU students or now a member of the Alumni Board, I like the feeling of paying back or maybe even paying it forward.”
After graduating in 2002, Alvarez entered a residency program at Veterans Health Administration Sierra Nevada Healthcare System in Reno, Nev. Alvarez explained that it was this position that shaped her career as a pharmacist. She had the opportunity to work with one of the most influential and knowledgeable pharmacists in the profession today—the residency program director, Jannet Carmichael.
Following the completion of her residency, Alvarez took some time off to have children. She moved back to Virginia and worked as a staff pharmacist for a few years. It wasn’t until 2006 that she was given the chance to work in clinical pharmacy again at Roanoke Memorial Hospital.
“Less than one year after starting there, I became the drug information pharmacist and was able to put my clinical skills to good use,” said Alvarez. “This paved the way for me to move back into clinical practice within the Virginia health system.”
Alvarez is currently the pharmacy manager at an oncology practice known as Blue Ridge Cancer Care. She accepted this position after being in geriatrics/palliative care for almost five years. It has been a challenge for her, as she has had to learn a new language (chemotherapy agents) and also brush up on her people-managing skills.
Even after earning her doctorate degree in 2002 in pharmacy, becoming a Board Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialist in 2011 and having a stellar career, Alvarez says her greatest accomplishment has nothing to do with work.
“I am the mom of three wonderful children, ages 10, seven and three. They are my greatest accomplishment.”