While growing up in Hopatcong, New Jersey, Bruce Epstein PHARM’86 had only a narrow sense of potential career paths. He could become a doctor or a pharmacist, because he liked biology, or an accountant, because he didn’t hate math. He lacked a mentor, and most of his classmates were not college bound, but he got himself to Rutgers.
Once there, the competition provided by his peers at the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy made him work harder, and an enlightening curriculum broadened his vista. Larry Shapiro, a pharmacy administration professor, encouraged him to take his education in an unexpected direction: sales. So he got a job as a representative with Roche and spent the next nine years learning the pharmaceutical industry, inside and out, with positions in market research, finance, and marketing. He ultimately landed on a career in pharmaceutical advertising and today owns three companies that handle various aspects of that business: RevHealth
, First Amendment, and Medical Charities of America
Although he also received an MBA from New York University, he says, “In my heart, if somebody asks what school I went to, the first thing out of my mouth is Rutgers. That is the place that set me up for a successful life.”
He has demonstrated that reverence by teaching pharmaceutical advertising as an elective at the pharmacy school since 2005, and by offering his students fellowship, clinical rotation, and job opportunities. This year, he committed his resources in an entirely new way: by donating $50,000 to create an endowed scholarship for students in the doctor of pharmacy program. His company, RevHealth, has also given $25,000 to the school’s building expansion project. Both gifts support Our Rutgers, Our Future, the university’s billion-dollar fundraising campaign.
Epstein’s students have gone on to work for him, or for other agencies, and to become brand managers for big pharmaceutical companies. Some become pharmacists. The end choice does not matter to Epstein; he just wants them to have as many resources as possible in making that decision. College students “don’t have the experience necessary to make decisions about what to do with their lives,” he says. “That’s why it’s so important to have mentors.”
Financial assistance is another important aspect, and through the new scholarship, future generations will receive the same education for which Epstein is so grateful. Creating that scholarship, he says, “was another opportunity for me to thank the pharmacy school and all the people that touched me there.”