What originally attracted you to pharmacy?
I grew up watching my father, a registered nurse, oversee my grandparents’ health by attending their appointments and assembling their weekly pill organizers. This early exposure to medication management sparked my interest in pharmacy. During my time as a President’s Scholar at California State University, Long Beach, I discovered my enjoyment of chemistry and learning how medications affect the body. I explored my interests by declaring a major in biochemistry, performing undergraduate research with paclitaxel, volunteering in the pharmacy of my university’s student health center, and becoming involved in its pre-pharmacy club where I served as president during my junior year. By investing my time in these activities, I realized how pharmacy encompassed my academic interests and personal values, and I eagerly applied to USC Mann.
How did you come to the decision to pursue your degree at USC?
I came to the decision to pursue my degree at USC by taking many factors into consideration. The location of USC allowed me to continue my studies while being relatively close to my loved ones in Southern California. The many opportunities to build my network with those associated with USC was something that I highly valued. Furthermore, I wanted to gain experience in a wide variety of pharmacy settings in the Los Angeles area, which I knew USC offered.
Now that your time at USC is coming to an end, what is one of your favorite memories of your time here? How do you feel your experiences at USC have prepared you for this next chapter in your life?
One of my favorite memories during my time at USC was working on my scholarly project with my classmates. During my P3 year, we surveyed participants of the E Hula Mau Hula and Chant Competition in Long Beach, Calif. to learn more about the health and lifestyle of Pacific Islanders and what culturally sensitive approaches can be implemented to better manage diabetes in this population. This project meant a lot to me because I am of Filipino and Chamorro descent and diabetes affects many Asians and Pacific Islanders. During this event, I felt like I had made an impact on my people, the community of Los Angeles, and represented USC Mann well.
My experiences at USC have prepared me for my next chapter in life by allowing me to further develop my skills in extracurricular activities. During my time at USC, I took on elective courses that focused on geriatrics, Spanish for pharmacists, and health care needs of special populations. I gained collaborative skills by working with health professional students of different disciplines in USC geriatric programs such as the Interprofessional Geriatrics Curriculum and the Geriatric Assessment Program. I also served homeless patients at the Medical and Pharmacy Student Collaboration mobile clinic. Due to my additional coursework and extracurricular activities, I am graduating with an area of concentration in comprehensive medication management and high-risk populations, which has prepared me to work with a variety of health professionals and patient populations.
Can you tell us about your post-graduation plans? What are you most looking forward to?
After graduating, I will be pursuing a postgraduate year 1 (PGY-1) pharmacy residency program at Kaiser Permanente Antelope Valley where I will be serving patients in ambulatory care, home infusion/oncology, and outpatient settings. I am looking forward to being a pharmacy resident at Kaiser Permanente Antelope Valley because I will be serving the patients of my hometown and can continue making a positive impact on my community. Apart from pharmacy, I plan on learning how to produce my own music and spending time with my loved ones.
Do you have any advice to the students who are following in your footsteps? Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Do not lose sight of why you started down your path to becoming a pharmacist. Reflect on your personal goals, professional goals, and values. Find mentors who will push you to believe in yourself and do not let fear be the rate limiting factor of your success. Stay humble and keep your mind open. If you ever want to talk, do not be afraid to reach out to me. I will be more than happy to speak with you!