Commencement Spotlight: Jasmine Ventenilla

Education is invaluable to fourth-year PharmD student Jasmine Ventenilla, who will graduate with a 3.94 GPA—the highest among the 199 students in her graduating class. She attributes her academic success to her parents and grandmother for instilling in her a lifelong passion for education.

Ventenilla’s interest in pharmacy stems from early childhood, when her grandmother would share stories about her time as a pharmacist in the Philippines. “My grandma would tell me about how she would dispense medications from her home and provide care for people in her village—I always found it fascinating,” she explains. Ventenilla began her undergraduate studies as a chemistry major at UC San Diego, then switched her major to pharmacological chemistry.

As she was pursuing her degree in San Diego, her father, Raul, decided to return to school to finish his bachelor’s in biochemical engineering at the Southern California Institute of Technology (SCIT) in Anaheim—a goal he had postponed years ago when he became a father to Ventenilla and her sister. Ventenilla says this shared academic experience with her father was both motivating and bonding. “When I would visit home, my dad and I would sometimes study together and talk about our assignments,” she says. “My dad is the hardest working person I know—I now see where I get my work ethic.”

Jasmine Ventenilla and her father, Raul Ventenilla, pose for a photo at the 2018 White Coat Ceremony at USC School of Pharmacy. (Photo/Courtesy of Jasmine Ventenilla)

When Ventenilla was accepted into the USC PharmD program, she discovered a passion for teaching. She has been an active member of the Theta chapter of the Rho Chi Society, providing tutoring for students needing additional academic support. “Being a member of Rho Chi made me feel recognized for my accomplishments—and being able to teach others was a big plus,” she says.

Ventenilla had the opportunity to put her teaching skills to practice during her Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE) academic rotation. She worked closely with her preceptor, Rory Kim, assistant professor of clinical pharmacy, and coordinated educational presentations for almost 180 students. “With Jasmine, it was like working with another faculty member,” Kim says. “She has shown a natural gift and affinity for teaching.”

While spending her weekends as a pharmacy intern at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, Ventenilla served as a student ambassador for the Margaret and John Biles Student Leadership Center, vice president of Phi Delta Chi Professional Pharmacy Society and chair of the student committee for diversity, equity and inclusion, where she facilitated the establishment of the Middle Eastern Pharmacists Association and the International Student Affinity Group.

When asked how she manages her time with school, her internship, and student organizations, she explains that studying ahead of time and utilizing the School’s resources has helped her immensely. “It was definitely tough with extracurricular activities and my internship but some things that helped me were talking to professors, attending Rho Chi review sessions, and studying with friends.”

USC recently named Ventenilla to the Order of Arête—the highest honor bestowed to USC graduate students upon completion of their academic programs. She is recognized for her notable contributions to the university, academic discipline, and profound impact on her community. Ventenilla and four of her fellow PharmD classmates were honored for their appointment to the order at the USC Student Recognition Awards Ceremony on May 12 in Bovard Auditorium.

Ventenilla is now on her way to complete a postgraduate year one (PGY1) residency at MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center. After that, she plans to pursue a postgraduate year two (PGY2) in cardiology.