What attracted you to the field of pharmacy? Any particular moment that made you think, “This is the path I want to take?”
I had my first recurring episode of alopecia during high school and sought treatment from various providers but none seemed to provide a long-term solution. When I visited my local pharmacy to pick up medications, the pharmacist was very pleasant and caring during our short interactions. She did not make me feel like a disease, but rather, a person who happened to be suffering from a medical condition. I knew it was part of her job to be kind to patients, but she went above and beyond. Our interactions made an impact on me and I wanted to find ways to do for others what she had done for me. I started to do more research on the pharmacy profession, joined a pre-pharmacy society at UCLA as a biochemistry major, and volunteered in a pharmacy to get more exposure. Although my interest has shifted from community pharmacy to a different field, my reason for starting this journey has remained the same: To provide care to the community with empathy and compassion.
Why did you choose USC School of Pharmacy?
I knew USC was a challenging program that prides itself on developing distinguished graduates. Now that I am halfway through, I know that I made the right choice. Although it has been and will continue to be difficult academically, I am ready to rise to the challenge to get the most out of this experience. USC also has a tremendous network of alumni who are eager to lend a helping hand to students and push us to become the next generation of leaders in the profession. A distinguished alumni has graciously offered to let me visit, observe, and learn all about independent pharmacies and asked for nothing in return.
What are the advantages of studying in a place like Los Angeles?
I was born in Vietnam and immigrated to the U.S. in 2007. I’ve lived in the Los Angeles area for the last 11 years and have come to appreciate how diverse the city is. From a pharmacy student standpoint, studying here allows students to learn about the wide range of challenges facing the community and teaches them how to address those challenges in a culturally appropriate manner. In addition, there are plenty of activities in the surrounding areas to help students relax and de-stress during four years of pharmacy school whether it be enjoying the sun at the beach, feeling the cool waterfall on a hike, or having a nice dinner in downtown Los Angeles. Studying in Los Angeles enriches student lives beyond the classroom.
What is your role as the ASSP president for the 2018-2019 year?
As the president of Associated Student of the school, it is my duty to unite students, faculty and administration to develop the next generation of pharmacists and serve the community. I am only able to do this with the help of my hardworking executive board, cooperative organizations and supportive faculty advisor.
What are your career aspirations?
One of my career goals is to pursue a cardiology residency and become a specialist. Even though the brain is usually the most protected organ, without the heart, the body cannot function at all (unless given a medical device). I am highly interested in this specialty because I want to serve those who need a little extra help in getting and keeping their most important muscle healthy and pumping.
What is one of the best experiences you’ve had at USC so far?
As a USC student, I’ve had the opportunity to attend several conferences, one of which was the Western Pharmacy Exchange 2017 in Palm Springs. This conference consisted of various programs and activities but my favorite was the Quiz Bowl. I was thrilled to see the energy running through the crowd as the audience cheered on their respective teams, and even more when I saw the “Fight On!” spirit among our USC attendees. I had an amazing time seeing the Trojan family support each other through the tough challenge of competing against all the other pharmacy schools in California.
What is a fun fact about you that not many people know about?
Although I don’t look the part, I used to play water polo at Loara High School in Anaheim, CA. One of my favorite moments was when I scored a goal during a tournament, surprising the entire audience and even myself!