A Bridge to Excellence

Margaret Hayes, MS, leads the A Bridge to Academic Excellence mentoring program, a community service program between the School of Pharmacy and UMB’s six other schools.

By Mike Ruddock
March 9, 2015

Margaret Hayes, MS, has a standing weekend appointment. As co-founder of A Bridge to Academic Excellence (ABAE), a collaborative community service program between the School of Pharmacy and the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s (UMB) six other graduate schools, Hayes spends at least one Saturday morning a month at the School of Pharmacy overseeing the tutoring of middle and high school students.

Hayes, director of student services and outreach at the School of Pharmacy, has helped grow ABAE to include students from as far away as Washington, D.C., and southern Pennsylvania. Since its inception in 2000, the program has tutored more than 1,100 students. In addition to tutoring services in 10 subjects including geometry, chemistry, English, and SAT preparation, the program provides free breakfasts and a healthy dose of mentoring from UMB students, faculty, and staff.

The goal of the initiative, says Hayes, “is to get students onto the UMB campus,” to see dentistry, law, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and social work in action and as possible future careers.

As ABAE grows, its one constant has been Hayes, who champions the student organization at the University, to its stakeholders and to potential donors. She has raised more than $125,000 for the program from the Rite Aid Foundation and private donors.
ABAE was a natural outgrowth for Hayes, who began her career as a high school English teacher. She joined the School of Pharmacy in 1997 and has proved to be an adept problem-solver ever since.

Five years ago, in addition to ABAE, Hayes was given a challenge. The job environment was tough for graduating pharmacy students. After several years of planning, she initiated Job Ready, a program that prepares pharmacy students for entering the job market in every facet of the profession — hospitals, retail, government, and residency positions — with resume-writing, interviewing tips, and career panels with prospective employers.

“I built the Job Ready program to prepare students for what’s needed for the workplace beyond their outstanding clinical skills,” says Hayes.

A longtime member and former president of the Maryland Public Health Association (MdPHA), in 2004 Hayes founded the student section of the MdPHA to encourage students to develop leadership roles and to address critical issues such as health disparities or health literacy in underserved populations.

“I didn’t set out to be involved in health disparity issues or to be involved in public health efforts that respond to the needs of people in our communities,” Hayes says. “But I can bring awareness and education about it in a non-threatening way.”

Cooperation and building partnerships are essential goals for an administrator, Hayes says. “It comes from my core value,” she says, “a respect for others. For me, being strategic means that I look at a problem, make an assessment, and respond in a positive way that builds cooperation.”

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