Shelley Roberts is the founder of GrassRoots Pharmacy in Lexington, Kentucky where she earned her PharmD degree at the UK College of Pharmacy. Along with being the lead pharmacist at Grassroots and owning her own business, Shelley has also started the cross country and track team at Liberty Elementary School. She is also looking into starting a running non-profit organization so that kids in the community can be more actively involved, while simultaneously promoting daily healthy habits.
Shelley was drawn to community pharmacy because of her love of patient interaction, and she became fascinated by how her role as a pharmacist could benefit the public. “Pharmacy is a perfect profession for a woman who wants it all. Pharmacists are respected health care professionals, but I’m also allowed the time to be active in my community, start a family, and even open and maintain a business. I’m able to pursue and apply my interest in science in math while still having the fulfillment of having time to help my clients and put them first on a day to day basis.”
“Going through pharmacy school I had plenty of girls in my class, but I mostly encountered male pharmacists and professors. As a high school and undergraduate student, I never had a female pharmacist role model to really look up to because the field was mostly dominated by men.” Rather than be discouraged by this fact, Shelley took this as an opportunity to create a new, expectation-free vision for herself of what kind of a leader she wanted to be. “I drew encouragement from being a trail-blazer in itself.” Shelley believes that in today’s society it’s important for women to know that if they have the passion and motivation to work in the STEM field, then that in itself is enough to prove that they belong there. “The pharmacy field has recently had a shift in being predominately women, which I’m proud to be apart of, but there is still the challenge of facing society’s bias that men are more knowledgeable in the field. While working as a staff pharmacist at K-Mart some customers would ask to speak to the male that was interning me, despite the fact that I had been working there for 10 years.”
Shelley wants to encourage women to gain the respect they deserve by being confident in their field of interest and knowing that the potential of having a family shouldn’t limit their career options and opportunities. Shelley advises young women who want to pursue a STEM career to spend time with other women in that field so that they can understand their life trajectory better and see the time frame of where their goals will align more. Shelley also hopes to be a role model for not only women who want to find a balance between achieving their career goals and having a family, but also for her daughters. “If you want to go into a science or math-based field, there’s a place for you in that career as a woman, and you can contribute so much more when you embrace that role.”