Distinguished Alumnus Award: James Hodges ’71

Roby Hill
May 13, 2021

When James Hodges ’71 crossed the stage at his own MUSC College of Pharmacy commencement 50 years ago, he made history as the college’s first African-American graduate. He went on to a successful career as an independent pharmacy owner, running the Cash Discount Drug Store in St. George, S.C. for 30 years.

The College of Pharmacy has announced Hodges as the recipient of the 2021 Distinguished Alumnus Award, the highest alumni honor the college bestows. The award recognizes the impact he has made on his community, the college, and the profession. He will serve as the keynote speaker of the 2021 Awards Celebration and Hooding Ceremony, which takes place Friday (May 14) at Gaillard Auditorium.

[Ed. note: during the proceedings, Dean Philip Hall announced the creation of The James L. Hodges ’71 Alumni Association Scholarship. This permanent endowed scholarship, funded by the MUSC Alumni Association, will support need-based scholarships to underrepresented minority students within the MUSC College of Pharmacy. "Our hope is that this scholarship fund will help provide a foundation for our students as leaders and trailblazers, following in your legacy, its namesake," Hall said.]

An inspiration for many students, it will not be the first time he has spoken on campus. In 2017, he spoke at the college’s 2017 Black History Month Seminar about growing up in rural South Carolina and what it takes to become a successful pharmacist.

His own path to pharmacy began as an undergraduate at Claflin College. Bill Golod, then-dean of the MUSC College of Pharmacy, spoke to the Claflin students about careers in pharmacy. Hodges’ father encouraged him to become a pharmacist, believing it would offer more security from being relocated once he and his family settled in.

Working in drug stores as a student helped give him a better understanding of the profession. After graduation, he worked as a pharmacist for several years before deciding he was ready to buy his own place: Cash Discount Drug Store in St. George. He built a loyal following and ran the drugstore for 30 years, becoming known for his skill at compounding.

A member of Springtown United Methodist Church, Hodges has served his community as a member of the Dorchester County School District 4 Board and as a member of the Kluabber Building Committee.

About the Author

Roby Hill

Keywords: Alumni News, Awards, College News