Graduates of the School of Pharmacy enjoy staying involved with the School and its students. That involvement takes many forms, from financial support and precepting and mentoring students, to taking on the challenges of planning class reunions or events for pharmacy professional organizations.
Edwin Balcerzak, BSP ‘57
Like many young men, Baltimore-born Ed Balcerzak didn’t know exactly what he wanted to do after graduating from Loyola High School. In the years following World War II, he saw military service as a duty. So he joined the Army.
He could not have known then that when he completed his military hitch he would spend much of the rest of his life serving veterans like himself by working in the pharmacies of Veterans Administration and then Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals in and around Baltimore.
Growing up in Locust Point, he noticed that pharmacists in the community commanded respect.
“Then, our family had a close friend who enrolled in pharmacy school,” he recalls. “So, pharmacy seemed like a good place to be.”
When Balcerzak graduated from the School of Pharmacy in 1957, he went to work for Read’s drugstores and some independent pharmacies. When Good Samaritan Hospital opened, he was one of the first pharmacists working there.
Looking for more direct patient contact, he started his long stint working for the VA at the hospital on Loch Raven Boulevard, then worked downtown at the Hopkins Plaza VA clinic.
“I loved working with patients,” he says. “It was a joy. I made an excellent career choice.”
He capped his career by working at the VA Medical Center on the University of Maryland, Baltimore campus where he worked with the School of Pharmacy’s Magaly Rodriguez de Bittner, now chair of the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science.
“She was great to work with,” says Balcerzak, who stays involved with pharmacy and the alumni by taking continuing education courses and being an active member of the Senior Pharmacists Association of Maryland and other pharmacy professional organizations.
Since retiring, he has become a member of the School’s David Stewart Associates by financially supporting the School. He also recently chaired his class of 1957 reunion.
Balcerzak has been married to his wife, Patricia, for 40 years. They have four children and two grandchildren. He and Patricia live in Reisterstown, but winter on Marco Island, Fla., and spend most of the summer in Ocean City, Md., both places where Balcerzak can pursue his passion for golf.
He also has an entrepreneurial streak that led him to buy farms in 2000 where he now raises 350,000 chickens annually and sells them to major poultry houses. His goal is to raise 1.5 million birds each year. So, when you go to a Baltimore-area supermarket and buy one of the young, roasted chickens in the deli – “Likely it’s one of mine,” says Balcerzak.
Thomas Brenner, BSP ’72, FASHP
Thomas Brenner, Class of 1972 and now director of the pharmacy at York (Pa.) Hospital, has enjoyed precepting and mentoring students from the School since the mide-1980s.
“Today’s students are incredible. They keep me young and better educated,” he says with a chuckle. “Precepting gives the students a chance to learn from us and gives us a chance to learn from them. We can take their knowledge and apply it to practice.”
Just as the last several years have been a time of change for pharmacy, Brenner recalls that his years at the School were also years of transition.
“Ours was the first class to be offered a clinical track,” he recalls.
Brenner is grateful for the chance to have worked with Peter Lamy on a clinical project at the Levindale Geriatric Center and Hospital. Brenner also helped to develop a neonatal IV nutrition fluid at University Hospital, which eventually became the University of Maryland Medical Center.
“We also helped develop a clinical pharmacy program and worked directly with the medical staff,” he recalls.
He likes to provide the students he precepts with similar clinical experiences. Born in York, Brenner returned there after his post-graduate work at University Hospital. In 1977 he started working at York Hospital, where he quickly became pharmacy director. He is currently working with a task force to develop a school of pharmacy at York College in the next four years.
Brenner also is head of his church fundraising committee. “Being involved has made me realize how important philanthropic activities are,” says Brenner. “It is important for us all to give back and to leave a living legacy.”
He and his wife of 36 years, Nancy, have a son and three grandsons.
Terri Clayman, PharmD ’98, BSP ‘77
“I had a Gilbert Chemistry Set,” recalls Terri Clayman. “I always liked science. My mother was a nurse at Sinai Hospital. She introduced me to two women who were pharmacists. Right away, I thought pharmacy was for me.”
Clayman attended the University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s pre-pharmacy program and then came to the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy as part of the class of 1977. Two decades after receiving her BSP in 1977, she earned her PharmD through the School’s Nontraditional PharmD Pathway.
After working at several Baltimore-area hospital pharmacies, Clayman became a clinical pharmacist at Mercy Medical Center.
Even prior to getting the PharmD, Clayman had been an active, 15-year supporter of the School of Pharmacy’s Annual Fund and a mentor to School students whom she precepts at the Mercy Medical Center pharmacy.
Giving money and time to important causes has always been important to her, she says. It started with volunteering at Baltimore County General Hospital the summer before she graduated from Randallstown High School in 1971.
Since then, her giving has taken many forms, including membership with the Maryland Society of Health-System Pharmacists (an organization that named her Pharmacist of the Year in 2005), by helping to chair annual meetings and seminars, and line up speakers and continuing education courses. She also participates in a Mercy program by knitting hats for homeless children for Christmas. “I enjoy knitting,” she says.
As busy as ever, Clayman is serving as chair of her class reunion, is an active supporter of the Hippodrome Theatre, and serves as president of her neighborhood association in Columbia.