URI pharmacy student is grandfather, full-time EMT

KINGSTON, R.I. — October 31, 2006 — “You’re my boy Blue, you’re my boy.” This quote, from the movie Old School, refers to an 89-year-old fraternity member, but is also used by the members of the University of Rhode Island pharmacy fraternity Kappa Psi to refer to one of their own. They are talking about Ronald Hammond, the 54-year-old, second-year pharmacy major and fellow pharmacy fraternity member.

Why did Hammond decide to return to school at this age, and tackle one of the University’s most difficult majors? “I had lots of free time on my hands,” Hammond said, and he wanted to put it to good use. “Going back to school would help me gain knowledge and make me able to treat my patients better.” Hammond has also been a full-time emergency medical technician with the Woonsocket Fire Department for the past 9 years. “Many patients we pick up on the rescue are on a myriad of medications. I want to know that any treatment or medication I give doesn’t have an adverse affect on them.”

Hammond is the fundraising chairman of the pharmacy fraternity Kappa Psi, which has provided him the clout to voice his opinion on the upcoming vote on Question 4, which would fund construction of a new $65 million pharmacy building at URI. He says the current building, Fogarty Hall, is outdated. “A new facility would provide more labs and classroom space,” said Hammond. “Plus we need a computer room for on-line research with a student lounge to relax in while studying.” He also feels that classrooms should be more state-of-the-art and faculty offices need to be bigger than “the size of a small closet.” In addition to his work within the fraternity, Hammond is also a member of the Association of Student Pharmacists, and is an intern at CVS.

Two years ago as a URI chemistry major, he applied to the pharmacy college, and not even a 3.6 grade point average was enough to get him in. “I was a little frustrated, but you know the old saying ‘what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.’ I didn’t give it a second thought though. I was determined to get in the program and I was going to do what it took, including taking courses again in which I got a B to get an A,” said Hammond. He worked even harder, and the following year, a 3.76 grade point average earned him a spot in the college. Now that he is in, he is taking some extremely difficult courses, like pharmacotherapeutics and pharmacokinetics, but it is not all work and no play. “I get to enjoy other aspects of college life. I go to an occasional concert or football or basketball game. Plus I go to the gym and work out and play basketball.”

Hammond is a native of Woonsocket. He graduated from the city’s high school and proceeded to college for a year, after which he decided to join the Navy. After serving four years and earning his degree in electrical engineering, he left to take classes part time at Roger Williams University, while volunteering for the North Smithfield Fire Department. He then went to school to earn his emergency medical technician license at the age of 45. Upon earning his license, he joined the Woonsocket Fire Department, becoming one of its oldest rookies.

Aside from his jobs and classes, Hammond is happily married to Kathy. The couple has two children and three grandchildren. “I have the best wife in the world. If I have to stay late at school to study or I have a school function, she understands and is very supportive,” he said. “But I make sure that I have time for them, whether it’s going out to dinner and a movie with my wife or to my grandson’s football game.”

To summarize his experiences with URI and his fraternity up to this point Hammond said, “It’s incredible. I’m treated like one of the guys even though I’m the oldest one here.” Hammond plans to finish his career with the Woonsocket Fire Department while also working as a pharmacist.

Pictured above

THE ULTIMATE MULTI-TASKER: Ron Hammond is a member of the Woonsocket Fire Department and a Woonsocket resident. He also interns at CVS in Park Square while earning his pharmacy degree at URI. URI News bureau photo by Michael Salerno Photography.