Student Spotlight: Narega Nazarian

Meet third-year PharmD student Narega Nazarian, who talks about her path to pharmacy school, her favorite experiences at USC, and the role she plays as the ASSP Curriculum Council Representative for the Class of 2019. 

Q: What prompted your interest in science? and drew you towards pharmacy as a career?

In May 2009, I moved to the United States from Iran with my parents. Although I did not speak English fluently, I made the best of my situation. I started at Glendale Community College, where I took most of my lower division classes. I can confidently say that my love for science was imparted from my organic chemistry professor. She was compassionate in her approach to teaching chemistry and made sure her students learned the material. After taking her class, I began exploring scientific research in organic chemistry with her and worked on a research project with a group of students in our chemistry lab which led to presenting our project in student research poster symposiums during the summer. I thoroughly enjoyed the process and from that moment onward, I knew I’d continue to explore a career in science.

When I first moved to this country, I didn’t have a solid understanding of the pharmacy field, but my interest was piqued when I started volunteering at Remedy Drugs Pharmacy in Glendale. I discovered the vital role a pharmacist plays in the treating patients long-term, educating patients about their medications and advising other healthcare professionals on treatment regimens. Initially, it was truly just a dream to become a pharmacist. But I never lost sight of it, and I feel fortunate to be in a position now to pursue a career in clinical pharmacy.

Q: Why did you choose USC School of Pharmacy?

There are many reasons why I chose USC School of Pharmacy over other schools. On my interview day here, I realized the school has a diverse student body that is enlivened by an incredible sense of school pride and unity. Coming from a foreign country in the heart of the Middle East, where I was exposed to many cultures, I felt very welcome at USC. Through my interactions with faculty and students, I realized that the school offers exceptional networking opportunities, which enable students to meet professionals in the field who are willing to mentor and guide them through pharmacy school. I knew USC Mann has long-standing connections in healthcare organizations across Los Angeles – connections greatly benefit its students. I’ve been at the School for three years now and have been incredibly happy with my experience here.

Q: You’re a part of the Associated Students of the school (ASSP), Class of 2019 Board. Can you tell us more about ASSP and the role you’ve played as Curriculum Council Representative?

Associated Students of School of Pharmacy also known as ASSP is an organization that serves USC Mann as a whole. The main goals of ASSP are to encourage professional and educational advancement among students and faculty, to unite and conduct the affairs of the students in cooperation with the faculty and alumni, and of course to serve the community at large.

Throughout my first year here, I realized that the school and faculty are open to improving the curriculum and are receptive to students and their opinions. This realization drew my attention to the Curriculum Council Representative position since I have always been an advocate for improvements in student education and the learning process.

As the Curriculum Council Representative, I engage in many different activities. I attend curriculum council meetings every month to discuss student suggestions and concerns with the council members. Collectively, we review student surveys and discuss matters related to the curriculum improvements during these meetings. Additionally, I work with course coordinators to discuss and address any problems students may have with a specific course. As a member of the class of 2019 board, I also help with coordinating social events, fundraisers and much more. Currently, our main focus is to organize a formal banquet before graduation to bring all students of the class together one last time before we embark on our individual journeys.

Q: What are your career aspirations?

I started working as an intern at Keck Medical Center of USC during my first year of pharmacy school. I’ve been able to work with different pharmacists and experience the role of a clinical pharmacist at the hospital. It has definitely guided me toward the decision to pursue a career in clinical pharmacy. However, I am still exploring different options and am looking forward to my advanced pharmacy practice experience (APPE) rotations where I will be able to gain specialized experiences within different avenues of clinical pharmacy.

Q: What is one of the best experiences you’ve had at USC Mann so far?

I have had a lot of great experiences at USC Mann; from the health fairs and alumni events to tailgates and other social events. I must say the best experience I’ve had at USC has been finding valuable friends for whom I will forever be grateful. We would not have been able to take this journey on our own and we have been each other’s strength through the toughest nights during exams and rotations. But we did make the best memories together in class and during our breaks. In the end, we may not remember everything from pharmacy school, but we will keep our friendships for life.