Los Angeles High School Students Explore Careers in Pharmacy at USC

The USC School of Pharmacy welcomed about 100 high school students to campus from Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet and King Drew Medical Magnet for Careers in Pharmacy Day, a daylong event on Friday, April 21 designed to inspire students to consider pharmacy.

Second-year pharmacy student Devin Panlasigui, who led the planning for Careers in Pharmacy Day, says outreach events like this ensure that “the community starts knowing about the value of pharmacy.”

The day’s lineup included a diverse mix of speakers and activities.

“It’s an exciting time to be a pharmacist,” said David Kang, a pharmacy manager at Walgreens, who told students about the expanding roles and responsibilities of pharmacists. “Our roles are changing. Pharmacists are not behind the counter counting pills.”

Ruth Awosika (PharmD ’12), a community pharmacist, told students about her journey as a graduate of King Drew Medical Magnet in 2003 who went on to complete her undergraduate degree at Loyola Marymount College, then enroll at the USC School of Pharmacy. She is passionate about mentoring students and tackling health disparities both locally and globally.

“Keep that compassion at your core and keep on moving,” Awosika told students, advising them that they will be faced with different obstacles throughout their life, and the key is to “remember why you went into health care.”

High school students also heard from current pharmacy students who answered questions about the application process, explained why they chose USC, described the academic life of a PharmD student, and the qualities they thought were the best for a pharmacist to have.

“It’s important to be humble,” said Alanah Bell, a second-year PharmD student, “The field is always changing, there will always be something you don’t know.”

Pharmacy student panelists also shared why they chose USC when looking at pharmacy schools. “I saw a difference in how students approached me,” said Vivian Or, a first-year student who recalled her first time visiting the School of Pharmacy. “The students were open about their experiences and I even remember after I went to the event, almost every single student I met at the event added me on Facebook and said, ‘If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me.’ They took the time to reach out, and it shows what kind of students USC brings out. I want to be a mentor to incoming students.”

After listening to the speakers, the high school students had a chance to try out compounding by making their own scented lotions. In a hands-on exercise, they learned important basics about compounding–from measuring ingredients to creating labels for the finished products.

Thank you to Walgreens for important support of Careers in Pharmacy Day.