Student Spotlight: Danielle Cortez

Meet fourth-year USC School of Pharmacy student Danielle Cortez (’17), who talks about her faculty mentors, the USC alumni network and having the opportunity to give back to the community through the Skull and Mortar Honorary Service Fraternity. 

Danielle Cortez, PharmD '17
Danielle Cortez, PharmD ’17, and her three children

Why did you choose USC School of Pharmacy?

I chose to attend USC School of Pharmacy because it is one of the top pharmacy programs in the country. The school has a lot of experienced faculty, introductory pharmacy practice experience (IPPE) and advanced pharmacy practice experience (APPE) sites, and more than enough Trojan pride! I don’t regret my choice at all because after I complete the PharmD degree I will be well-prepared for the pharmacy world.

How have the resources and faculty available at USC helped you with your studies, learning, and growth?

USC offers unique resources over other programs. The faculty and pharmacy network that the program provides is a highly valuable commodity. The faculty are always welcome to interact with the students and are willing to help out whenever they can. From Dr. Steven Chen connecting me to several opportunities to volunteer in ambulatory care clinics to Dr. Tien Ng explaining difficult cardiology concepts to me during office hours, the USC faculty have helped enrich my education.

What is one of the best experiences you’ve had at the school so far?

In addition to the faculty and alumni, USC has provided me with friends that I will have for the rest of my professional career and personal life. In the beginning, most of us didn’t know anyone else in the program, but over time relationships build up. The program brings us all closer together and some of the best experiences I’ve had at USC have been staying up late studying for exams with my friends and celebrating our accomplishments together. The friends that I have made at USC are amazing, supportive and very intelligent people. They’ve been by my side through everything in pharmacy school and I am grateful I have met them.

What are your plans after graduation?

After graduation, I hope to be accepted into a pharmacy residency program and further refine my skills and knowledge. Afterwards, I will be happy practicing pharmacy anywhere that I am able to work directly with patients and make a positive impact in their care.

What is the importance of USC’s alumni network?

USC’s alumni network plays a key role in providing students with opportunities to gain experience in a variety of locations and types of pharmacies. Trojan pride is a real thing. USC alumni welcome students into their workplaces with open arms. This allows USC students access to sites ranging from industry to compounding to inpatient pharmacy settings.

Tell us about your work with Skull and Mortar, and how it has affected your student experience. 

One of the first organizations on campus that I joined was the Skull and Mortar (SAM) Honorary Service Fraternity. Skull and Mortar has given me a lot of experience with organizing events, managing finances, and collaborating with other organizations. As a general member, Vice President and ultimately President, Skull and Mortar provided me with an outlet to make a positive impact in the community. I have been able to help serve food to Skid Row residents, provide health screenings to underserved populations in East Los Angeles, educate local children on poison prevention and be involved in many other volunteer services. Having a direct impact on serving others has given meaning to my educational pursuit and therefore, it has made the experience much easier.

Feel free to tell us anything else about yourself that you’d like to share! 

I want everyone to know that it is possible to achieve your goals. I have been able to raise three children, attend classes, work at Kaiser Permanente, and be on the board for Skull and Mortar all at the same time. Nothing is impossible. As long as you stick to what makes you happy and dream high, you can reach the stars.