University News

Pharmacy Student Governance Association Hosts Inaugural Young Alumni Awards

Published: April 04, 2022 | Categories: Pharmacy and Health Sciences, All News

In celebration of the achievements of College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences alumni, The Western New England (WNE) Pharmacy Student Governance Association (PSGA) hosted the inaugural Young Alumni Awards event on Saturday, April 9. The event, supported by a grant from the WNE Alumni Association, recognized the professional excellence and successful young careers of Ashley Chiara, Paul DiPietro, Melissa Putnam, Kara Singh, Victoryn Williams, and Alex Wu.

Event highlights included an honoree panel, moderated by Dr. Josh Spooner; an awards presentation, led by PSGA President and third year PharmD student Marissa Verro; and remarks from College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Professor Dr. Daniel Kennedy, WNE President Dr. Robert Johnson, WNE Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Dr. Maria Toyota, and College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Dean John Pezzuto.

"Each of you represent the best of what Western New England University has to offer," said President Robert Johnson, recognizing how WNE graduates, like the honorees, understands the importance of learning, unlearning, and relearning as part of the future of work. "To our current students, what you saw with our graduates is that it's possible. It's possible for you to realize your dreams, your goals, and your aspirations," he said.

Inspired by the accomplishments all six alumni honorees have achieved in their young careers, Dr. Maria Toyota reflected on how far each honoree has come and how much opportunity lies ahead. "You have both depth and breadth, your ability to use lateral thinking, to use analogies, to use relational thinking, to be able to leap from one domain to the next, and to be able to accept a complex domain as your field of work is very impressive," she said.

The following includes a brief overview of the academic and professional successes the honorees have accomplished during their time on campus and in their careers.

Ashley Chiara PharmD/MBA'16, Clinical Consultant Pharmacist with Commonwealth Medicine
A native of Tewksbury, MA, Chiara was actively involved during her time on campus, earning both her PharmD and MBA while serving as vice president and president of PSGA, assisted with the chartering of the campus chapter of Phi Lambda Sigma Pharmacy Leadership Society, and was captain of the University's dance team.

Following graduation, Chiara completed a post-graduate residency in managed care pharmacy practice at Commonwealth Medicine and also served as a health plan clinical advisor for CVS Caremark. She returned to Commonwealth Medicine and now leads a multidisciplinary and multiagency therapeutic class management workgroup and oversees a Medicaid pediatric behavioral health medication initiative to promote prescription safety for psychiatric medications in children and adolescents.

Paul DiPietro PharmD/MBA'16, Associate Director of Forecasting and Analytics in Oncology at Janssen Pharmaceuticals
Hailing from Drexel Hill, PA, DiPietro earned both his PharmD and MBA from WNE while serving as treasurer and vice president of Phi Delta Chi Pharmacy Fraternity, vice president of the Class of 2016, and student representative on the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Academic Affairs Committee.

After graduating from WNE, DiPietro completed a two-year fellowship with Janssen Pharmaceuticals, focused on commercial insights and strategies in infectious diseases. He earned further experience with the company later serving in managerial positions in Integrated Analytics in Infectious Diseases and Oncology, before being promoted to associate director of forecasting and analytics in Oncology.

Melissa Putnam PharmD'15, Team Lead Pharmacist at PillPack by Amazon Pharmacy
A member of the first WNE Doctor of Pharmacy class, Putnam was a member of the Phi Delta Chi Pharmacy Fraternity and the American Society of Health System Pharmacists during her time on campus. A native of Salem, NH, she was hired prior to graduation as a pharmacy intern at what is now PillPack by Amazon Pharmacy.

Shortly after concluding her degree at WNE, she was promoted to staff pharmacist in the Prescription Processing and Customer Onboarding Departments with PillPack. Now serving as team lead and having obtained her pharmacist licenses in nine states, she manages a team of 15 pharmacists and develops departmental policies for the 50 pharmacists and 150 technicians across multiple site locations.

Kara Singh PharmD'15, Staff Pharmacist at Ellis Medicine
A member of the first WNE Doctor of Pharmacy class, Singh was a member of the American Society of Health System Pharmacists and the American Pharmacists Association during her time on campus. She helped start a number of College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences events and campus initiatives including alumni dinners, the PSGA formal, and the campus American Heart Association Walk. In recognition of her involvement, she was awarded the PSGA Member of the Year in 2013.

After graduation, Singh served in pharmacy manager positions with pharmacies at Target, CVS, and Rite Aid. Prior to her new role with Ellis Medicine, she also served as a pharmacy district manager, overseeing the transition of 23 pharmacies from Rite Aid to Walgreens, and as a regional healthcare leader for 73 Rite Aid locations.

Victoryn Williams PharmD/MBA'16, Clinical Quality Pharmacy Manager at VillageMD
Now living outside Atlanta, GA, the New York City native earned her bachelor's degree in Biology from the University of Massachusetts before joining the WNE Doctor of Pharmacy Class of 2016. Achieving both her PharmD and MBA during her time at WNE, Williams served as vice president of the Academy of Student Pharmacists, vice president of the Student National Pharmaceutical Association, and chair of the College's efforts in the Script Your Future Medication Adherence Challenge.

Following graduation, Williams worked as an ambulatory care physician at Caring Health Center in Springfield, MA, where she developed and implemented a medication therapy management program, a hypertension clinic, and an anticoagulation management service for low-income, homeless, elderly, and refugee clientele. Due to her program successes at Caring Health Center she was featured in the May 2018 edition of Pharmacy Today. In 2020, she relocated to Georgia and is now making her impact with VillageMD, a provider of healthcare for organizations focused on a primary care-led, high value clinical model.

Alex Wu PharmD'15, Owner and Pharmacy Manager for Springfield Pharmacy
Prior to becoming a member of the first WNE Doctor of Pharmacy class, Wu earned his bachelor's degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. Actively involved during his time at WNE, Wu served as president of the Class of 2015 and as a member of a number of campus and national organizations including the American Pharmacists Association, Phi Delta Chi Pharmacy Fraternity, the WNE chapter of Rho Chi Pharmacy Honor Society, and the Phi Lambda Sigma Pharmacy Leadership Society. Alongside Dr. Diptiman Bose and Dr. Shannon Kinney, Wu also conducted laboratory research on cell line viability and gene primer development while completing his WNE degree.

After graduation, Wu held a variety of positions in community and hospital pharmacies before opening Springfield Pharmacy, a full-service independent pharmacy located on Main Street in Springfield, MA. In October 2021, Springfield Pharmacy was recognized by the Mental Health Association for exemplifying the organization's core values of respect, integrity, and compassion.

With the PSGA inaugural Young Alumni Awards event in the record books, the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences will be continuing the event annually, including opportunities for the College community and alumni to submit nominations.

Dr. Pezzuto encourages alumni to get involved with the alumni association and with the future development of a College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences advisory board. "We're vibrant, we're thinking, we're moving, we're creating, and we're being innovative," he said.

The WNE Alumni Association Grants Program offers grants to students and members of the University community to support student programs, student organization initiatives, student athletics, and Alumni Association initiatives. In the past 15 years, 395 grants totaling over $568,000 have been awarded. Learn more about opportunities available at and stay connected to WNE alumni news at
View all PSGA inaugural Young Alumni Awards event photos.