If one of the keys of success is the ability to communicate, Kelly Hunt has got it.

The 1995 graduate of MUSC pharmacy welcomed the Class of 2018 as the keynote speaker during the White Coat Ceremony on August 20 in the Drug Discovery Building.

His own success in business -  a rising star at Wal-Mart, a division supervisor at Publix, founder of a multi-million dollar independent store - would be enough to inspire any new crop of students.  But Hunt’s ability to connect to them suggests his business acumen is supplemented by charismatic communication skills. The students responded warmly to both the meaning and humor in his remarks.

“You are going to be in the business of helping people,” he said in his address. “That’s the job you have chosen to do. Are you ready? Because you will be drinking from a fire-hose very shortly.”

Using the Pharmacist’s Oath as his overarching theme, Hunt encouraged students through the hard work and sacrifice to come, reassuring them that reward does await.

That has certainly been his experience. In 2008, when he was founding Kelly’s Family Pharmacy in Easley, S.C., he went 10 months without a paycheck. Today, Kelly’s Family Pharmacy has been voted best pharmacy in Pickens County three years running, and his success continues to grow. In 2011, he opened FirstChoice Pharmacy in Greenville, S.C. and is now starting eXigo Pharmaceuticals.

“Don’t lose sight of your vision of changing the world,” said Hunt. “Hang on to it like a hair in a biscuit. You ever seen a hair in a biscuit? You can’t get it out.

“Embrace and advocate change. Nobody likes change - and if you don’t believe me, try taking someone else’s seat in church - but right now you’re toeing the line in the marathon of the profession of pharmacy. You’ve got to keep up with what’s going on in your profession.

“Wayne Gretsky has said the only difference between him and other hockey players is that he was skating to where the puck was going, not where it was. In business, it’s the same way.”