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From the photo lab to the pharmacy, CCRI alumna Roques completes remarkable journey

MR1June 3, 2022

More than a decade after beginning her journey as a Photo Specialist at Walgreens, first-generation Community College of Rhode Island alumna Michelle Roques is now behind the pharmacy counter as a Registered Pharmacist (RPh), recently accepting a new position at Anthony's Pharmacy in Providence where the one-on-one interaction with customers fuels her passion for healthcare.

The 31-year-old Providence, RI, resident and Class of 2016 graduate earned her associate degree at CCRI in Business Administration and Management, after which she decided to pursue a career in pharmacy. She remained at CCRI for the next two years to complete her prerequisites for pharmacy, then transferred to the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, where she earned her Doctor of Pharmacy degree in 2021.

Growing up, Roques dreamt of a career helping others. After graduating Classical High School in 2008, she enrolled at Lincoln Technical Institute’s Dental Assistant School, but soon realized dentistry wasn’t her passion. Transitioning to customer service, Roques worked her way up the ladder at Walgreens, landing a position as a supervisor, which piqued her interest in business management.

Two years after the birth of her first child, she enrolled at CCRI to pursue her Business degree while continuing to work full time at Walgreens. During that time, a job opening for a Pharmacy Technician became available; eyeing an opportunity to get back into healthcare, Roque earned her Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) designation and began working behind the counter as a Pharmacy Tech. The new position was an eye-opener.

“Becoming a Pharmacy Tech changed everything,” Roques said. “It gave me insight into how I could do more to help people who needed it. I found my path.”

With help from CCRI’s Impact Initiatives Manager Tanekar Alexander, Roques began the process of transitioning to an entirely new career. Alexander provided sound advice, helping Roques discover what her options were for transferring in addition to carving the quickest path possible toward finishing her prerequisites at CCRI. In 2018, Roques officially transferred to MCPHS, beginning the next step in the journey to her dream job.

“Tanekar was such a valuable resource for me throughout this process,” Roques said. “No matter what I needed help with, she was always there for me.”

The path to her doctorate degree wasn’t always easy, but with support from friends, family, and her advisors at CCRI, Roques remained positive and never settled for less than what she knew she deserved, a message she hopes her three children take with them when they as they continue along their own educational paths.

“I never stopped,” said Roques, who has an 8-year-old, a 10-year-old, and a 15-year-old stepson at home. “There were times when I felt overwhelmed, but I always had the end goal in mind. You can’t quit. You can’t settle.

“You just have to be determined.”

“CCRI provided you with everything you need to take that next step. I had two kids while I was in school, so being able to take night classes while my mother or husband took care of them was extremely helpful. Even weekend classes – their flexibility is incredible.

“The professors at CCRI genuinely want you to succeed,” Roques continued. “They stay after class to help you if you need it, or their doors are always open during office hours. And the assistance they provide to first-generation college students like myself is so beneficial. I would recommend CCRI to anyone. I didn’t need to go anywhere else to finish my prerequisites. Everything is available to you at CCRI.”

In her new role at Anthony’s, she will have the opportunity to work more directly with customers, many of whom grew up in or live in the same community she did. More importantly, she’s a continuous inspiration at home, where she hopes her hard work and never-say-never attitude motivate her children to achieve greatness.

“If anything, I did this for them,” Roques said. “I want them to look up to their parents and say, ‘Wow, my mom did it and she did it while we were young. If she can, so can we.’”

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