Student Spotlight: Vincent Li

Meet fourth-year pharmacy student Vincent Li, whose path to pharmacy started as an undergraduate member of the USC Pre-Pharmacy Society. In this spotlight, he talks about his experiences pursuing a dual-degree in regulatory science, his career aspirations and how he balances pharmacy with his pursuit of music, playing with USC Concerto Chamber Orchestra.

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

My interest in science stems from an inclination to learn about how nature operates and how biological and chemical mechanisms are in place for scientific phenomena to occur. Utilizing professional knowledge to benefit patient lives is what drew me towards pharmacy as a career.

In my time as an undergraduate majoring in biochemistry at USC, I owe it all to the USC Pre-Pharmacy Society for granting me opportunities to learn more about the pharmacy profession. Throughout my participation in this student organization, I interacted with pharmacy professionals in a variety of symposiums and presentation sessions to directly understand more about the roles, responsibilities and duties of a pharmacist. I was inspired seeing how pharmacists can make a difference in patient care through their extensive knowledge of medications.

Q: Why did you choose USC School of Pharmacy?

I knew this program would provide numerous opportunities for me to grow professionally and personally. I see the school as an enabling force, with a multitude of student and professional organizations available for students to become involved in from the very beginning. Knowing this, I was able to grow on a personal level by becoming involved with the USC Student Industry Association (SIA), the Supplemental Instruction (SI) program, and USC Mann Admissions Committee.

On a professional level, I grew by virtue of gaining exposure to all the various aspects of pharmacy that were made possible through the school’s connections and collaborations. While I could not have foreseen that I would end up pursuing a dual degree combination with the USC Regulatory Science program, or getting to do an invaluable fourth-year international rotation in Taiwan to experience health care and pharmacy practice outside of the U.S., I was truly excited knowing that these were the kinds of opportunities lying in wait for me. I am thankful that USC Mann has provided me a robust set of experiences throughout my entire time as a PharmD student.

Q: You play with the USC Concerto Chamber Orchestra as a violinist. Can you tell us about the experience? And how do you balance your pursuit of music with pharmacy? 

Absolutely! I started playing violin when I was 12 years old. As I continued to develop my musical abilities, I quickly discovered my passion for music and enjoyed playing in an orchestra. It is the collaborative nature and how the different sounds, textures, and tones blend in harmoniously that appeals tremendously to me. It is the joy of making music together and sharing that joy with others that I see as pure beauty. The USC Concerto Chamber Orchestra is a student-founded, student-led orchestra that performs up to twice a semester over at USC’s University Park Campus. Many of our performances include not only classical music but also new student compositions as well as collaborative pieces with the choir. I’ve had the honor of serving as a violin II section leader a few times in my five years as an active member. My duties as a section leader include discussing musical technique and articulation with members of the section and leading by example through playing with confidence, musical understanding, and awareness of the piece at hand.

Regarding balancing my pursuit of music with pharmacy, it really comes down to viewing my pursuit of music as a creative outlet. For me, it was important to remain mentally refreshed by having a nice mix of different activities in my student life. Hence, I made sure to make time to practice realistically on average four to five times a week; however, practicing did not feel like a chore to me. Instead, whenever I pulled out my instrument to practice and play, I saw that as a wonderful opportunity to switch gears and participate in a different type of mentally-stimulating and simultaneously stress-relieving activity.

Pictured (center left): Vincent Li performs with the USC Concerto Chamber Orchestra

Q: What are your career aspirations?

I aspire to enhance patient access to treatments. Whether it is through working in the outpatient, clinical setting by interacting with patients or through working in a corporate environment such as for a biopharmaceutical or device company to gain product approvals, I acknowledge and recognize the importance of being able to get the right treatments into the hands of the right patients. Given the amount of significant unmet medical need in many therapeutic areas today, there is a lot to be excited for as health care continues to grow and improve.

As a soon-to-be pharmacy professional, I am well-equipped to handle the challenges of maintaining foundational pharmacy knowledge along with consolidating new knowledge as new treatments continue to come out. In addition to my initial career aspiration, I also aspire to utilize my bilingual abilities to contribute to the pharmacy profession in a meaningful way, such as possibly through outreach activities or improving communication of clinical knowledge.

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

One of the best experiences I’ve had so far would have to be serving as a tour guide during a USC School of Pharmacy Interview Day in March 2016. It is very important for me to give back to the community that I attribute so much of my growth to.  As a tour guide, I discussed the strengths of our PharmD program with prospective students and introduced the Trojan spirit. It was an exciting role as I got to take them around campus and talk about the school from a student’s perspective.