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John Leung's legacy: giving to patients, pharmacy students, and the community

The John Wai Chung and Susanna Leung Entrance Awards in Pharmacy will help support students in the Entry-to-Practice Doctor of Pharmacy program. 

June 22, 2021

John Leung was always smiling. Widely respected among his pharmacy peers and patients, he was full of energy, and committed to his community and profession. Before John passed away in 2019, he and his family wanted to leave a legacy, reflecting his dedication to helping the vocation and the community he served.

John’s family explains his motivation to support future UBC pharmacy students sprung from a desire to give in two ways. Individually, he wanted to support students to achieve their goals. More broadly, he understood the future of pharmacy is exciting with an ever-evolving scope of practice.

“John wanted to inspire young pharmacists to continue to progress the profession of pharmacy as a whole,” says his wife, Susanna Leung. “He hoped that future recipients of this award might consider giving back at the end of their careers, too, and help further support growth in pharmacy practice.”

The John Wai Chung and Susanna Leung Entrance Award in Pharmacy, the first of its kind, was created to support students in the Entry-to-Practice Doctor of Pharmacy program. It is the most significant individual donor-funded student award in the Faculty’s history, matched by a $500,000 contribution from UBC’s Blue and Gold Campaign for Students.

Born in Macau, China, John Leung emigrated to Vancouver with Susanna in 1972. Graduating from UBC with a bachelor of science degree in pharmacy in 1977, he began his career in Squamish, BC, at United Pharmacy under the mentorship of proprietor David Stewart.

Relocating to Abbotsford, John established Fraser Western Drug Mart in partnership with two UBC classmates. By 1983, as the sole proprietor, his practice joined the Peoples Drug Mart group, eventually receiving their “Most Improved Store Award” in 2008. John relocated his practice to Abbotsford’s NewGen Professional Centre in 2010, rebranding to its current name Newgen PharmaChoice.

John’s youngest son, Andrew, graduated from the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences in 2016, and joined the Newgen PharmaChoice team — following in his father’s footsteps as a trusted, loyal pharmacist in the Abbotsford community.

“Pharmacy gave John a very good career and life, “Susanna says. “He was tremendously proud of the lifelong connections he made with his customers and staff — many of whom returned for his advice over 35 years. He was a witness to many of his customers’ journeys — to newlyweds, to young parents, to becoming new grandparents.”

The John Wai Chung and Susanna Leung Entrance Awards in Pharmacy will be awarded to incoming students demonstrating leadership skills, community service, extra-curricular achievement and academic merit.

“We are tremendously grateful for this wonderful gift from the Leung family,” says Dr. Michael Coughtrie, professor and dean. “John’s work as a pharmacist positively impacted the lives of many members of his community. Through this generous gift, his legacy will also impact the lives of our students and their future patients.”