Commencement Spotlight: Jacqueline Matian

Matian’s passion for volunteering led her to deliver medications at a hospital and later, at the Mann School, to aid in USC’s COVID-19 vaccination outreach.

Jacqueline Matian was hooded by Edith Mirzaian, USC Mann School’s assistant dean of curriculum and associate professor of clinical pharmacy, at the 116th USC Mann Commencement on Saturday, May 13, 2023. (Photo by Glen Tao)

Jacqueline Matian resolved to become a pharmacist while volunteering at Valley Presbyterian Hospital in Van Nuys, Calif., delivering medications from the pharmacy to different units within the 350-bed acute care facility. She was 15 at the time.

Born and raised in Burbank, Calif., Matian was inspired by her parents to work hard and never give up on her dreams and goals. “They taught me the importance of enriching someone’s life and being a lifelong learner,” she said. Matian studied biochemistry at California State University, Northridge, and declared pre-pharmacy during her undergraduate years.

The USC Mann School was always her first choice for pharmacy school, according to Matian. She cited the unique opportunities, comprehensive programs—covering the pharmaceutical industry, managed care, direct patient care and much more—and students’ academic and extracurricular life as the top reasons.

But Matian’s pharmacy school experience changed radically during her second semester at USC, when COVID-19 upended the conventional ways of teaching and learning. It was a challenging atmosphere, Matian said—especially because the pandemic started early in her Mann School studies.

Matian grew concerned about missing out on close interactions as well as in-person events. So she reached out to classmates, faculty and friends, and held frequent Zoom meetings to keep in touch.

Matian at the Mann School’s White Coat Ceremony in August 2019. (Photo courtesy of Jacqueline Matian)

During the pandemic, Matian worked at the USC Medical Plaza Pharmacy, an on-campus location of USC Pharmacy. After hearing about USC’s COVID vaccine distribution efforts on campus and across Los Angeles, she signed up to volunteer.

“The experience reminded me of why I chose to pursue a career in healthcare in the first place,” Matian said. “It showed me the importance of vaccines in promoting public health. It was very empowering and rewarding.”

As a student at USC Mann, Matian worked closely with faculty and staff through her leadership position as vice president of academic affairs of the Associated Students of the School of Pharmacy (ASSP).

Jacqueline’s position required simultaneously representing the voice of the PharmD student body, while also raising any issues with faculty and committees in a fair and objective way, according to Maryann Wu, assistant dean for assessment and assistant professor of clinical pharmacy. “She handled these issues with grace and elegance, making her one of the most effective student body representatives and leaders.”

Meanwhile, outside of the classroom, Matian joined SC-DEI, USC Mann’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, as a second-year student. She later became chair of the committee. “USC Mann is a very diverse community,” Matian noted. “It is important to learn, respect and value other cultures and their customs and be inclusive of all individuals.”

Upon graduation, Matian will start her acute care residency at the Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center.