During her Howard new student orientation, Sahar Kassem (PharmD ’16) was asked what branch of pharmacy she wanted to pursue. She raised her hand high, as she knew without a doubt that one day she would own and manage an independent pharmacy. But little did she know that only six years later she would be the successor of the 110-year-old Morgan’s Pharmacy in Georgetown, the second oldest pharmacy in the nation’s capital.
Kassem’s career began when she was the caretaker of her ill grandmother. “I was exposed to the pharmaceutical world early in my life; my grandmother didn’t understand why she was taking some of her medications, so I Googled them and reached out to her doctor to ask questions. We didn’t know about drug interactions, so the pharmacist helped us with that. My grandmother was so happy I could help her with her medications that it sparked an immediate interest in me for the pharmaceutical field,” recalls Kassem.
From her early experiences with her grandmother, Kassem knew that she was meant to pursue pharmacy. “This is my purpose. I never had a back-up plan. I only applied to Howard. Howard made me love pharmacy even more, introduced me to the world of medicine, and taught me how to positively impact people’s day-to-day lives,” asserts Kassem. With a clear vision of her future, she only made decisions that would lead to her dream of one day owning a pharmacy and delivering exceptional care to her patients.
In her first years as a pharmacist, Kassem worked at large and small chain pharmacies and noticed there was an opportunity for pharmacists to give patients more quality and attentive service. She knew that she could deliver such service if she owned her own pharmacy.
Howard made me love pharmacy even more, introduced me to the world of medicine, and taught me how to positively impact people’s day-to-day lives.”
Shortly after, she began working at the independently owned Grubb’s Pharmacy in Southeast D.C., under the leadership of Michael Kim, PharmD, RPh, former owner of Morgan’s Pharmacy. Kim shared that he was selling Morgan’s Pharmacy. After encouragement and support from her husband, Kassem decided to pursue ownership of Morgan’s, affirming that this was one of the best decisions that she has made.
Kassem now owns and operates the historic neighborhood pharmacy in D.C. Photos of Morgan’s circa 1922 line its walls, and Kassem plans to maintain its historic aesthetic. In the near future, she plans to expand its impact to other parts of D.C. through its delivery service. “It’s a dream and a huge responsibility. Some of our patients have been loyal to Morgan’s for over 50 years and for generations. Knowing how greatly cared for Morgan’s patients have been throughout the years, I have a goal to take care of them twofold. I know how lucky I am,” she says.
Through her exceptional leadership and dedication to service, Kassem is creating a name of her own. “I want to be remembered as the pharmacist that did everything to help others to achieve better health and to inspire other women pharmacists,” remarks Kassem. “I want women who are thinking of owning a pharmacy to know that it is doable. One day, I want my future daughters to know that they can achieve something like this and better. Anything is possible.”