Three generations of one family studied the same course at the University of Sydney, and now share the same workplace. But even more remarkable is the scholarship they have established in perpetuity that will benefit many talented and deserving students and the pharmacy profession well into the future.
Many of us are familiar with the Cincotta Discount Chemist brand. But what you may not know is that three generations of the Cincotta family studied pharmacy at the University of Sydney: Albert (Umberto) Cincotta attained a Materia Medica (Pharmacol) in 1951; Albert’s son, Joseph, graduated with a Bachelor of Pharmacy in 1980; and Joseph’s daughter, Alexa, completed a Bachelor of Pharmacy in 2014.
All three now work together in the Campsie branch of Cincotta Chemist. But even more remarkable (and admirable) is the Cincotta family’s generous establishment of an endowed scholarship at the University of Sydney.The scholarship will afford pharmacy students the time to focus on their studies and the freedom to participate more broadly in campus life.
“We’d like to help a student who has a passion for pharmacy but doesn’t have the funding,” Joseph says. “Someone who is keen but doesn’t have the means.”
Alexa agrees that the scholarship will change the course of promising students’ lives for the better. “Pharmacy is a great passion throughout our family, and we want to give someone the chance to go to uni. It’s nice to know that someone else is getting the opportunity I did.”
The Cincottas have clearly absorbed the University’s commitment to offering the brightest researchers and the most promising students the chance to thrive and realise their full potential, whatever their social or cultural background. “We want to give great students the chance to shine,” Alexa says. “If someone applies for a scholarship, it means they’re keen.”
The Cincotta family’s name has been synonymous with superior service to the community of practice and commitment to the pharmacy profession. A brief glimpse into the family’s history uncovers more insights into their motivation and generosity.
Albert Cincotta established Cincotta Chemist in Merrylands in 1952 and has been central to the business ever since. He is known and loved throughout the community for his availability and dedication to patient care. And he resists distractions, such as interviews. As Joseph explains: “Dad would say to you, ‘the time I spend being interviewed, I could spend with my patients’.”
Alexa offers another insight into her grandfather. “He lived upstairs from his first pharmacy in Merrylands, and he had a doorbell so that patients could ring at any hour,” she says. “During his university days, he worked at the markets in Haymarket. He’d go from uni to work so he could support himself and his family.”
Albert was also the pioneer of after-hours opening, despite resistance at the time.
Innovation runs in the family’s veins as the Cincottas apply their university learning to the profession. “Dad was very ‘forward pharmacy’,” explains Joseph. “He would get out from behind the counter to talk to people and listen to their concerns – he practised that from his first day. He’s never worked in a closed-off room – he took the walls down. This instills confidence in customers, who then get better results from their medications.”
Alexa has in turn seen the University’s influence through her father. “Dad’s innovative with computer systems,” she says. “He brought the business forward through technology.”
And Joseph recognises Alexa’s potential to transform the benefits of today’s thinking and knowledge into a more innovative tomorrow.“You’re right up to date when coming out of uni,” he says. “You bring the latest from the cutting edge of knowledge and trends, and an injection of technology.” He mentions the possibilities inherent in social media.
Now in her internship year, Alexa talks fondly of her time at the University, and is proud that she has followed the same study path as her father and grandfather.
“It’s great knowing that Granddad, Dad and I studied in the same classrooms,” she says. “It’s a beautiful campus with a great atmosphere. I liked working with the same class every day, I got to know them all and we developed strong friendships. We were a close-knit group and the lecturers worked closely with us.”
Joseph says his time at the University gave him more than a pharmacy degree. “It’s a great place of learning,” he explains. “You come out with, not only knowledge,but with the building blocks to learn more and the tools to discover yourself.”
The endowed Umberto Cincotta Scholarship in Pharmacy, named in honour of Albert, will provide these same possibilities for promising students for generations to come.