Victoria Hale Encourages Students to Take RisksPharmacy Students call her message “Inspirational”
Dr. Victoria Hale had a simple message for Pacific's students: Many people think they know their path, but in reality they don't. In order to make dreams come true, students should consider how they want to do their jobs and what effects that will have on the world around them.
Hale shared her message on Oct. 23 to a packed room of Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Students. The students came to listen because Hale is a pharmacist who switched her path and created two non-profit pharmaceutical companies that specialize in making medications for underserved populations around the world. She was at the school at the invitation of the Pharmacy School and Pacific's Global Center of Social Entrepreneurship.
After the speech, several students said that Hale had given them a lot to consider as they decide where they want their life to go after they become pharmacists or therapists.
"She really opened my eyes to think bigger," said Jason Miller '13, a 24-year-old second-year pharmacy student. "She was inspirational and her message was beautiful."
Kristen Tokunaga '14, a 22-year-old first-year pharmacy student said that like many of her peers, she entered the field of pharmacy to "help people."
"But I never thought about the many different ways we could help people with these skills," she said. "Doing it on a global scale is something that I think we all strive to do."
Hale is the founder of two non-profit pharmaceutical companies, One World Health and Medicines360. Both, she explained, were founded because of a problem she sees in the world of pharmacy - that there are many cheap drugs and solutions to many world problems such as cholera, malaria and unintended pregnancy, but no solution is widely offered because the pharmaceutical companies can't make enough profit manufacturing and distributing the necessary drugs.
"When I applied with the IRS to create the first non-profit pharmaceutical company (OneWorld Health) producing malaria and cholera drugs, the IRS said there must be something wrong here because clearly these needs are already being met, since there's the chance to make so much money," Hale said. "In the pharmaceutical industry, there is so much possibility, but usually when there also is profit."
That's not to say all drug manufacturers are evil, she said. For her next venture, Medicines360, she is teaming up with for-profit companies to distribute more effective contraceptives to underserved communities. Her company produces the items at a non-profit level, and other companies market the products for a profit and return some profits to Medicines360. The result is a successful hybrid company that still meets the greater needs of the non-profit's mission. Her next goal is to create more hybrid solutions so that more effective but low-cost medications that treat important diseases can be distributed.
"We are showing that you don't lose money by serving the poor," Hale said. "We are changing the industry, but it hasn't been easy."
And she said all of her personal history can serve as a lesson for all of the students who came out to hear her.
"There is never a right time to make a change, there is only the right moment in your heart," she said. "It is your choice when to commit, but I urge you to get out of your comfort zones and silos and work with diverse people who you normally would not work with.
"You just have to make the leap."
At the end of the event, she received the Global Heroes Award from Pacific's Global Center of Social Entrepreneurship for her work. Hale has received other awards during her career, including the MacArthur "Genius" Award and The Economist's Social and Economic Innovation Award.