Pitt’s pandemic heroes: Borrelli lets students know they’re not alone


Marcia Borrelli, director of student services for the School of Pharmacy, sees her greatest influence on students when her team provides them with personal encouragement, from recruitment time through admissions and graduation.

“When they meet with us,” she says, “I think we give them a sense of ‘We’re in this together, and we’re going to help you through this.’ These are stellar students, but the first time one of these students gets a grade other than an A, it can have a snowball effect, and you’ve got to catch it in time.”

She recalls one student who took the Pharmacy College Admission Test and received a low score. “She was just in shambles,” Borrelli says. But she encouraged the student to prepare for and take the test again, and the student received “a near perfect score. That’s when I want to have the biggest impact — that they’re not in this alone.”

She and her colleagues are still working well together virtually, she says. Borrelli leads the school’s RxTalent Team, created three years ago to help promote PittPharmacy to high school and college students.

“In a time when only 60 percent of the schools of pharmacy in the U.S. have filled their classes,” says Kellie Mitchell, the school’s assistant dean of business and operations, “Marcia’s team has kept our classes full with highly motivated and qualified students.”

Borrelli joined Pitt in 1998, as an administrative assistant, reaching her current position in 2005. Her office also works with faculty to make sure classrooms are scheduled properly and students are matched with the right experiential learning site. Her team recently helped to host the Student National Pharmaceutical Association regional conference here.

When COVID-19 closed campus for most staff and faculty, Borrelli led her team’s conversion of the school’s Day for Admitted Students to an online event; created online tours of the school for prospective students; and switched the summer camp for high school students to a virtual camp using a camp-in-a-box call RxPloration Tools.

Since the pandemic, “we really had to think fast and work things out quickly,” she says. Back in March, they had three days to reach out to seniors who were still choosing which college to attend after multiple acceptances and then create an online school-visiting program for potential new students, which allows prospects to meet with current students and see pharmacy simulations and demonstrations.

“It was definitely a full agenda and pretty intense,” she says.

“The only downfall of working at home,” Borrelli says, “we’re reading emails constantly, even at 9 o’clock at night. There’s no separation from your work, your personal life — because no one has a personal life now.”

Marty Levine is a staff writer for the University Times. Reach him at martyl@pitt.edu or 412-758-4859.


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