Ramona McCarthy Hawkins, R.Ph. (1928-2018)
MSA SC 3520-14918
Ramona McCarthy-Hawkins has championed the cause of women and minorities in the field of medicine since the beginning of her extensive career in pharmacy. Throughout the course of her fifty-seven years of pharmaceutical service in Maryland and Washington D.C. she has generously given in every way possible in order to bolster support for blacks and women in the field of medicine.
She was born on July 31, 1928, in Columbus, Ohio, the fourth of five children born to Ethel Foree Smith and James O. Smith.1 Ms. McCarthy-Hawkins and her siblings were educated in Columbus public schools.2 She developed her interest in pharmacy from an early age after seeing a grandfather, three of her mother's siblings, and an elder brother have successful careers in the business.3 Encouraged by their lives, Ms. McCarthy-Hawkins started college at Ohio State University with the intent of becoming a pharmacist like so many of her relatives. She graduated in 1950 with a B.S. in the pharmacy.4 Directly after graduating, the young student won a two-year research fellowship in Biochemistry at her alma mater.5 After her fellowship ended, Ms. McCarthy-Hawkins married her first husband John M. Dorcas, now deceased. Together they decided to move to Baltimore in 1954 due to a job promotion in Mr. Dorcas’ field.6
After the move east, Ramona McCarthy-Hawkins was employed by the National Institute of Health as a research chemist in the Gerontology section of the National Heart and Lung Institute.7 She stayed at this position for 10 years until she was recruited by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the mid-1960s to work at the Department of Health and Human Services.8 She would go on to stay at the FDA for 44 years, but not without conflict. Sexism and racism were still realities of life for Ms. McCarthy-Hawkins and she faced them both within the government agency. To combat this, in 1968, she became a member of the founding chapter of Federally Employed Women (FEW).9 FEW was created out of a need to support professional women like herself in the Federal Government. Its mission was to serve as an advocate and mentor for those who wished to advance to upper-level policy and decision-making positions.10 This organization was successful in being a refuge for women who felt isolated in the government in those early days of integration.
Ms. Ramona McCarthy-Hawkins also fought against racism in the federal government through her involvement with Blacks in Government (BIG). She joined BIG in 1975 and served as president from 1977-78.11 At this point she had been steadily rising up the ranks of the FDA, but, her involvement with BIG quickly became problematic. It came to a climax when her presidency in 1977 made her involvement known to the entire department and she was very obviously passed over for positions she was fully, if not exceedingly, qualified for and owes this to her becoming more vocal about the lack of advancement opportunities at the FDA for minorities.12 Yet, hurtles in the path were not new to the hardworking young pharmacist, she says of the time, “I grew up fighting, so that wasn’t new to me”.13 Soon after this, she relocated her family to Silver Spring, Maryland,14 and soon after she was offered a promotion at the U.S. Patent Office in Crystal City, outside of Washington D.C., as a patent examiner.15 This job was a welcome departure from the pressures and troubles of the FDA at the time. However, she did not stay at the Patent Office long, preferring to return to the job she was so attached to at the FDA, just three years later.16 Despite past problems, she returned to her position and spent her remaining time adding to her merits and successes there.
Indeed, Ms. McCarthy-Hawkins had a full and prosperous career at the FDA, retiring in 1996 after 44 years of employment.17 Retiring did not lessen her involvement in or passion for pharmaceutical medicine, though. She was appointed by Governor Parris Glendening as a commissioner on the Maryland State Board of Pharmacy, and won election for two terms from 1997-2006.18 Since her retirement she has also been active in philanthropic endeavors, giving over $86,000 to aspiring pharmacy students.19 She continues to live in Silver Spring with her husband Robert Hawkins.20
Ramona McCarthy-Hawkins has been an inspiration to minorities and women in the field of pharmacy. Her activism and contributions have grown with her successes and her legacy of passion for the sciences and service will not go unacknowledged.
Ms. McCarthy Hawkins passed away on February 15, 2018, in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Past and Present Memberships and Affiliations21
Former President and current member, National Pharmaceutical Association
Member, National Pharmaceutical Association Foundation
Member, Maryland Pharmacist Association
Member, Maryland Pharmaceutical Society
Member, Ohio State University College of Pharmacy Alumni Association
Former Treasurer, Member, National Council of Negro Women
Member, Montgomery County Chapter of the NAACP
Member, Citizens Minority Relations Committee
Member, Montgomery County School Board
Founding Member, Federally Employed Women
Founding Member and First President, Blacks in Government
Member, various church and community affiliated organizations
2007 NPhA Chauncey I. Cooper Award
National Pharmaceutical Association’s Pharmacist of the Year
University of Maryland School of Pharmacy’s Honorary Alumni Award
Ohio State University College of Pharmacy’s Distinguished Alumni Award
John M. Cassady “Diversity Enhancement Award” –from press release
Pharmaceutical Philanthropic Contributions
Florida A&M University
Texas Southern University
Ohio State University
University of Toledo
University of Maryland School of Pharmacy
A Bridge to Academic Excellence Middle/High School Mentoring and Tutoring Program
1. McKnight-Smith, Gina. Maryland Commission for Women
Nominating Committee. Oct. 2007.
2008 Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame Nomination Form. Annapolis, MD. Return to text
2. Taylor, Dorcas Ann. “Biographical Sketch of Ramona McCarthy Hawkins”. 2008 Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame Nomination Form. Return to text
3. Jasinski, Agnes. “Pioneer is Honored for Advancing Female and Minority Pharmacists” The Washington Post, 10, April 2008. Return to text
4. “The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy Twenty-Fifth Annual Alumni Awards Banquet.” Ohio State University. 28 July 2008.
<http://www.pharmacy.ohiostate.edu/alumni/documents/AlumniAwards2008.pdf> Return to text
5. “Ramona McCarthy Hawkins, R.Ph.” Maryland Commission for Women. Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame. 28 July 2008.
<http://www.msa.md.gov/msa/educ/exhibits/womenshall/html/hawkins.html> Return to text
6. Taylor, Dorcas Ann. “Biographical Sketch of Ramona McCarthy Hawkins”. 2008 Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame Nomination Form. Return to text
7. Ibid. Return to text
8. Ibid. Return to text
9. Hayes, Margaret. Letter to Maryland Commission for Women Nominating Committee. Oct. 2007.2008 Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame Nomination Form.
Annapolis, MD. Return to text
10. Ibid. Return to text
11. Jasinski, Agnes. “Her fight opened the door for women, minority pharmacists” The Gazette, 9, April 2008.
<http://www.gazette.net/stories/040908/silvnew202803¬_32391.shtml> Return to text
12. Ibid. Return to text
13. Jasinski, Agnes. “Pioneer is Honored for Advancing Female and Minority Pharmacists” The Washington Post, 10, April 2008. Return to text
14. Taylor, Dorcas Ann. “Biographical Sketch of Ramona McCarthy Hawkins”. 2008 Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame Nomination Form. Return to text
15. National Pharmaceutical Association (September 5, 2007). “Ramona McCarthy-Hawkins, R.Ph., Recieves NPhA Chauncey I. Cooper Award”.
Press Release. Retrieved on 2008-07-28. Return to text
16. Ibid. Return to text
17. “Ramona McCarthy Hawkins, R.Ph.” Maryland Commission for Women. Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame. 28 July 2008.
<http://www.msa.md.gov/msa/educ/exhibits/womenshall/html/hawkins.html> Return to text
18. Ibid. Return to text
19. Jasinski, Agnes. “Pioneer is Honored for Advancing Female and Minority Pharmacists” The Washington Post, 10, April 2008. Return to text
20. Taylor, Dorcas Ann. “Biographical Sketch of Ramona McCarthy Hawkins”. 2008 Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame Nomination Form. Return to text
21. Hayes, Margaret. Letter to Maryland Commission for Women Nominating Committee. Oct. 2007.2008 Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame Nomination Form. Annapolis, MD. Return to text
to Ramona McCarthy Hawkins's Introductory Page
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