Student Spotlight: Yen Luu

Meet Yen Luu, third-year PharmD student and 2019-20 president of the Associated Students of the school (ASSP). Here, she talks about immigrating from Vietnam, her path toward pharmacy and her goals for the upcoming year as leader of the PharmD student government.


Tell us a little about yourself and where you grew up. Where’s your hometown?

I was born in Vietnam where I lived for the first 11 years of my life. In 2009, I immigrated to America several days before 9/11 happened and my family settled down in San Diego, California. It was hard learning a new language and adapting to a new culture at the age of 11. I could not imagine how hard it would be to do so at an older age. Although the process can be hard at times, I am truly proud of my heritage and feel that my life is more enriched with different cultures and values. I am proud to say that I am a Vietnamese-American.

Yen Luu was the director of the 2017 San Diego Vietnamese New Year Tet Festival. Here she is with other community leaders during the festival’s opening ceremony. (Photo courtesy of Yen Luu)

What attracted you to the field of pharmacy? Any particular moment(s) that made you stop and think, “This is the path I want to take?”

When I attended San Diego State University for undergrad, I majored in biology and knew that I wanted to pursue healthcare. I could not decide between becoming a physician, nurse, or pharmacist, so I became a certified nurse assistant after college to learn more about the different options available to me. I worked in a hospital for about a year and this experience made me realize that I was much more interested in the therapeutics than the diagnostics side of healthcare, so pharmacy seemed like the profession that fit my interests and skills best. After that year, I took the pharmacy technician licensing exam and became a pharmacy technician, which definitely solidified my resolution to become a pharmacist.

Why did you choose USC School of Pharmacy?

USC School of Pharmacy was my dream school when I was applying for pharmacy school. I chose USC for many reasons, including having a positive interview experience. I was the type of interviewee who would cater her answers to what she thought the interviewer would want to hear. However, the type of environment that USC faculty and staff created at the interview sessions made me feel extremely comfortable to answer questions honestly. I was not skewed by what I thought they wanted to hear and instead felt that I wanted them to know me, for me. Another reason I chose USC was because of the numerous pharmacy opportunities available here. USC has so many different organizations and our faculty members are experts in their fields. I knew that I would get the best opportunity to cultivate my own personal growth and discover the field of pharmacy I am passionate about.

What’s your role as the ASSP president for the 2019-2020 year? Any particular goals or areas of focus?

My role as the ASSP president is to ensure that ASSP board members are performing efficiently and effectively. My goal is to lead a strong and cohesive board that is supportive of each other and passionate about the work. I would also like to encourage an open line of communication between ASSP members and all students here at the school. I hope that students can utilize our Suggestion Box more frequently to let us know their concerns and make suggestions for ASSP to further improve. Every submission would give us a better understanding of what students want and how to improve student life.

What’s one of the best/most memorable experiences you’ve had at the school so far?

ASSP Election Day was one of my most memorable experiences at the school. It was the most terrifying but also the most beautiful experience of my life. The amount of support that I received from my family and friends made the experience so special and memorable. I still remember nervously practicing my speech at home in an attempt to not embarrass myself in front of my cohort at the election. As I made my way to school, I practiced the speech in front of my friends to get last minute feedback. When the big moment came for my turn to speak, I stared anxiously into the audience to see my friends and classmates cheering me on. They definitely gave me the strength that I needed to overcome my fear of public speaking. That day made me realize that I will forever cherish the friendships I made during pharmacy school.

What are your career aspirations? In general, how do you feel about the outlook for the pharmacy profession?

I am very hopeful and excited for what our generation has to offer to the pharmacy profession. I believe that our profession is about to experience some big changes that will revolutionize the pharmacy field. Whether these changes are positive or negative will depend solely on our generation and future generations of pharmacy leaders. I believe that even as students, we need to be aware of what’s happening outside of our pharmacy school bubble. I highly encourage students to pursue what they love and not do things simply because other people are doing them. As long as you do what you love, “What is meant will be, will be.”

What’s a fun fact about you that not many people know about?

I just celebrated my eight-year wedding anniversary with my husband. My husband is a Marine veteran and I am so proud of him for serving our country. We met each other in 6th grade and have been best friends since. We began dating in college and got married soon after.

Yen Luu and her husband at their traditional Vietnamese wedding celebration. (Photo courtesy of Yen Luu)