Defying the Odds

UMKC recognizes Fredrick N. Manasseh who goes to great lengths to pursue his education and keeps giving back

Fredrick N. Manasseh (Pharm.D. ’07, EMBA ’12) arrived in Wichita, Kansas, from Nairobi, Kenya, with nothing more than a suitcase of clothes and enough money for two months of room and board. As an undergraduate, he worked three jobs to pay for his education and support his family in Kenya.

Despite losing everything he owned in an apartment fire within three months of arriving, Manasseh graduated with honors from Butler Community College and Wichita State University. While earning his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from UMKC (and later, his EMBA), he established a student chapter for the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP).

Manasseh also founded the Monica E. Manasseh Scholarship, named for his mother, at UMKC to aid minority students who encounter financial barriers to higher education. Currently, Manasseh is senior pharmacy executive at AbsoluteCare, a patient-centered medical home where he is responsible for strategy, operations and innovation worldwide.

For Manasseh’s perseverance, success and philanthropy after overcoming extremely difficult circumstances, he is being recognized by the University of Missouri-Kansas City and its Alumni Association with the Defying the Odds Award.

Manasseh recently discussed his career and motivations with UMKC:

What was it like growing up in Kenya? How did you get the idea to study abroad?

Given that Kenya is a third world country, even though it has come a long way and a lot of improvements have been made in recent years, access to simple things like transportation and regular daily meals sometimes were a struggle. My parents did a great job of sacrificing, working hard and providing us shelter, food and education.

I knew of several people who had explored graduate education overseas and this positioned them to be successful. My parents, particularly my dad, also encouraged it. They held a harambee, similar to a formal fundraising event. The organizer reaches out to the community, which includes family and friends, with the purpose of raising funds for a particular cause. In my case, it was going to study abroad.

How did UMKC contribute to your success?

Aside from education, I have met several people who have served as advisors and mentors. One former faculty in the School of Pharmacy, Dr. Cathy Carroll, has played a pivotal role in my development and career journey. I call her my surrogate mother since my family was still back in Africa during my studies.

One of my favorite UMKC memories was during my EMBA course, I had the opportunity to travel to China for 10 weeks. Part of my project was to understand the disparity between Eastern and Western medicine.

I’ve continued my education. Knowledge is power. The only thing that is constant in the world is change. To supplement hard work and networking, education serves as an essential tool to position you to attain future goals and aspirations. It is vital to stay abreast with current changes but also put yourself in position to succeed.

Why is it important to you to give back to students who find themselves struggling financially and wanting to pursue higher education?

It’s about giving somebody who has potential a chance to succeed. I was fortunate enough due to my grades and networking, that I was able to find people who saw something in me and were willing to give me a chance. We also have to continue to nurture a pipeline and nurture future leaders, and it starts by providing the adequate resources for them to succeed.


Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes individual alumni and one family with top honors. UMKC will honor Manasseh and other outstanding alumni at the 2018 Alumni Awards event Friday, June 15, on campus. The reception is one of the university’s largest events and proceeds support student scholarships. In the last decade, the Alumni Awards event has garnered more than $1 million in scholarships and immediate aid for students.

Click here for tickets or sponsorship information for the June 15, 2018, Alumni Awards event.

Click here for more information on the 2018 Alumni Award recipients.


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