Laura Eickholt, BSPh ‘99, is a non-traditional law student, commuting daily from Dublin, Ohio, raising a family and obtaining her Juris Doctor after serving 20 years as a clinical pharmacist. So, it came as a surprise when she edged out the competition and won second place in a national essay contest.
Eickholt was awarded $3,000 from the Freedom From Religion Foundation for her essay addressing the topic, “How laws banning or restricting abortion should be invalidated based on the religious liberty interests of a potential plaintiff.”
“As a person of faith, I found it intriguing that I would be making a religious-based argument on a position many assume to be without moral or religious basis,” said Eickholt. “To me, that’s part of what law school is about—respecting alternate systems of thought.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is an American nonprofit organization that advocates for the constitutional principle of the separation of church and state and challenges the legitimacy of many federal and state programs that are faith based.
Eickholt drew on her decades of experience as a pharmacist.
“I wrote the article with the intention of using it as a springboard for my final paper in Professor Joanne Brant’s ‘Church and State’ course. Ultimately, I was simply trying to use the essay competition as an exercise towards completing a solid ‘Church and State’ paper,” she said. “To then place second in a national competition was extremely rewarding, and I was so happy to see Ohio Northern Pettit College of Law listed among the other large law school winners.”
Eickholt is slated to graduate early and is spending her summer leveraging both her pharmacy and law knowledge externing for the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws (NAMSDL). The nonprofit organization is dedicated to creating comprehensive, integrative and effective model state drug and alcohol laws, policies and programs.
“Throughout my career, I’ve spoken to numerous patients facing bankruptcy because of a health diagnosis. To further complicate things, each of them were coping with scary and difficult treatment paths that were impacting their quality of life, jobs and families due to the excessive cost of health care,” explained Eickholt.
“As a pharmacist and attorney, I will be uniquely equipped to help enhance health care laws and policies,” said Eickholt. “I want to raise a hand and say, ‘Wait a minute, this policy is going to negatively impact the patient or provider in this way,’ because I’ve seen it firsthand. I want to have a seat at the table to be an advocate for both patients and providers and completing law school will help me do that.
“Illness, injury or addiction can happen to anyone; they do not discriminate. My pharmacy career has informed my law school experience, and my hope is to make a positive difference on the health care and well-being of families and communities when I graduate from law school.”
During the next several months Eickholt will focus primarily on substance abuse issues and legislation.
“The stigma is still there, but we are making progress and gaining a better understanding of the opioid epidemic,” said Eickholt.