Commencement Spotlight: Emily Hou

Hou was awarded the Order of Arête for her community service and student leadership, including positions in such organizations as the Associated Students of the School of Pharmacy.

Emily Hou’s commitment to the pharmacy field dates back to high school and solidified after becoming the first in her family to attend college. As an undergraduate at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), Hou traveled to Mexico to help provide underserved communities with vital medical services. There she witnessed the pharmacist’s crucial role in the interdisciplinary collaboration that is essential to healthcare. She continued helping others and gaining experience while working for three years as pharmacy intern at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center.

Hou has long helped fellow students as well. As a member of UCI’s pre-pharmacy society, she arranged trips for classmates to visit schools and meet pharmacy school representatives. In doing so, she met Murad Dibbini, the Mann School’s director of enrollment management.

As they talked, Hou realized that the Mann School was where she could best reach her goals. She started the PharmD program at USC immediately after graduating from college. The supportive environment and Trojan Family were her top reasons for choosing USC and the Mann School, Hou said.

Hou with classmates and faculty at the Phi Lambda Sigma pharmacy leadership society. (Photo courtesy of Emily Hou)

“I could see her excitement in pursuing a career in pharmacy and her eagerness to be a Trojan,” Dibbini recalled, adding that, in addition to fulfilling her academic potential, Hou “has been a strong leader in admissions.”

Hou’s efforts in this regard include being a Margaret and John Biles Leadership Center student ambassador. She also served as vice president of admissions and recruitment at the Associated Students of the School of Pharmacy (ASSP), overseeing more than 100 students on the student admissions committee and coordinating participation on admissions interview days.

During the pandemic, Hou helped transform the prospective student experience from in-person to completely virtual. “I had to start thinking outside the box,” Hou said. “I wanted to make sure that PharmD students had a good time during virtual interview days to make them feel connected.”

Such initiatives led to Hou’s election as the 2021-22 ASSP Class of 2023 student body president. The office saw her working even more closely with the USC Mann administration, acting as liaison between students, organizations and faculty members.

Hou working at her first USC Mann recruitment event. (Photo courtesy of Emily Hou)
Emily Hou is hooded by Professor Tien M.H. Ng at the 116th USC Mann Commencement on Saturday, May 13, 2023. (Photo by Glen Tao)

“Emily seeks to learn with every opportunity, making her a joy to work with,” said Kari Franson, associate dean for academic and student affairs and professor of clinical pharmacy. “As ASSP president, she repeatedly demonstrated the vision that a leader needs.”

Hou also served as treasurer and president of the Phi Lambda Sigma pharmacy leadership society. When she saw the society’s P3 and P4 students’ impactful work as mentors, she knew that’s what she wanted to do after her first year. “It has now come full circle, and I am grateful I had the chance to give back all that I have gained,” Hou said.

Recognizing Hou’s advocacy, leadership and service, the university awarded her the Order of Arête—the Greek term for virtue or excellence in attaining one’s utmost human potential. The award is the highest honor accorded to graduate students upon completion of their program at USC.

Hou will soon move to Worcester, Mass., for an acute care residency at UMass Memorial Medical Center. Her ultimate goal, she said, is to be involved with students and be part of the next generation’s pharmacy journey by precepting and teaching.