‘A Compelling Desire to Save Other Moms’: Childhood Loss Led Shea Manigo to Career in Health CareMay 24, 2023 11:42AM ● By Liv Osby
When she was just 4 years old, Shea Manigo lost her mother to a fatal heart attack.
The event changed her life in countless ways, not least of which was setting her on a path to a career in health care.
And now, as Senior Vice President of Front Store Operations for CVS Health, the Walterboro, South Carolina, native has launched a scholarship in her mother’s name to benefit minority students at the Medical University of South Carolina’s College of Pharmacy.
“From that moment on, I had a compelling drive and desire to want to save other moms,” she said of her mother’s passing. “I am who I am because of her, and it’s important that we honor her legacy.”
The Annie Lee Jerido Williams Minorities in Pharmacy Lowcountry Endowment and Scholarship Fund is one of four such programs that focus on increasing diversity at the college, according to MUSC. The need-based program will give preference to South Carolina residents.
College of Pharmacy Dean Philip D. Hall said the scholarship is special for a number of reasons.
“First, it is endowed, which puts it in select company and means it can help students every year in perpetuity,” he said. “Second, it is one of our most inspirational scholarships. Shea Manigo had to overcome a number of obstacles that would have sidelined many people.”
Not only did she get her pharmacy degree, he said, but she has become a mentor and leader in the profession, and for the college.
“Her mother was an equally inspirational woman, so this scholarship is not only a financial benefit to a prospective student, it is a symbolic beacon of hope,” Hall said.
“We’re always looking for great prospective students like Shea,” he added. “If we could use this scholarship to find a new Shea Manigo every year, what finer legacy could there be?”
Shortly after her mother’s death, Manigo, one of eight children, moved to Florida, where she was raised by her oldest brother and his wife.
“He was 25 and his wife was 21,” she recalls. “They went on to have four kids of their own and raised me and two of my siblings.”
Eventually, she attended the University of Florida and took a job in a small-town pharmacy. There, she remembers, she admired the pharmacist and the way he developed personal relationships with his patients, so she thought about pursuing a career in pharmacy.
Around that time, she says, her sister, who’d always encouraged her to attend graduate school, was murdered back in South Carolina. She decided she couldn’t delay her education any longer.
So she returned and enrolled in MUSC’s College of Pharmacy, where she completed her Doctor of Pharmacy degree in 2007, she says, and simultaneously earned her Master of Business Administration at The Citadel.
After graduating, Manigo says, she began working as a pharmacist with Target pharmacies, which was subsequently acquired by CVS.
Eventually, she adds, she led CVS pharmacies throughout South Carolina, Savannah, and parts of North Carolina before moving into her current position, where she is responsible for all CVS stores nationwide.
She and her husband, Terrence Manigo, who is also from Walterboro, have two sons. They make their home in Texas.
Manigo says she, her husband, and her siblings launched the scholarship to support minority students from South Carolina pursuing pharmacy careers.
She vividly recalls the financial challenges of attending grad school, struggling to get by on student loans, and believes that people should “lift as they climb.”
“CVS Health affords us the opportunity to be able … to impact not just the profession, but our communities as well,” she said. “It feels like I’m living my purpose inside of work.”
She’s also concerned with health care disparities in Colleton County and surrounding areas.
“I have the opportunity and a strong sense of responsibility to give back and do my part to continue to improve outcomes in that area,” she said.
The scholarship has been awarded to two students so far. Hillary Reeves, whom Manigo characterizes as “a brilliant young lady,” was the first.
The 26-year-old Columbia native is a fourth-year student at MUSC’s College of Pharmacy and will graduate in May.
“I am extremely grateful to have received this scholarship,” she said, “and honored to be the first recipient.”
Like Manigo, Reeves says she always wanted to work in health care and eventually became interested in medication management and literacy.
“A lot of people are taking medications and don’t know what they are for or how to take them and I became passionate about that,” she said. “Also, I enjoy how much our scope of practice is expanding.”
Indeed, after a one-year residency at Advent Health in Orlando, Florida, which begins in June, she wants to work one-on-one with patients in an ambulatory setting such as a family medical practice, a concept that she says is becoming more popular.
Reeves says the $2,000 scholarship was a great help because she is one of four children who attended college, and she used student loans to finance her undergraduate education at Clemson University as well as pharmacy school, all while working in pharmacies.
The scholarship is also important because it offers minority students the opportunity to see others like themselves in health care fields, she says.
“Out of my class of around 65 students, I can count on my hand how many looked like me,” she said. “Being able to be that face for other students pursuing pharmacy or health care careers, if I see someone who looks like me, it makes me feel more comfortable … to achieve that goal.”
Manigo, who is still a licensed pharmacist in South Carolina, serves on the Dean’s Advisory Council of MUSC’s College of Pharmacy and says her commitment to MUSC is strong.
“They gave me my start,” she said. “I will always be indebted to MUSC for launching my professional career – and that includes Dr. Hall who was there when I was – and how dedicated the staff was.”
The $50,000 endowment was established in partnership with the MUSC Foundation, Manigo said, noting anyone can contribute to it.
“This scholarship will outlive all of us,” she said. “It’s exciting for us to honor my mom’s legacy this way.”
In addition to honoring her mother, Manigo says the scholarship is also intended to inspire others.
“We wanted to continue to invest in the next generation and give people hope,” she said. “When you can give people hope, it’s motivation that will not only fuel them to continue to grow and become outstanding members of society, but to then feel inspired to do something for someone else.”