Student Spotlight: Irene Chen

Meet this year’s Associated Students of the school President, Irene Chen, a third-year student who shares her experience as an Albert Schweitzer Fellow, her three tips for incoming students, and why prospective students should choose USC.

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

Irene Chen (PharmD, ’18)

The opportunities at USC are boundless! I would not be where I am today without the support of our faculty members. Dr. Steven Chen has been instrumental in mentoring me throughout my pharmacy career; Dr. Susie Park and Dr. Richard Dang have been such supportive faculty members in pushing forward new initiatives with the Associated Students of the school (ASSP); and Dr. Ian Haworth helped us start the Supplemental Instruction program for the first-year students.

The number of extracurricular activities at USC is unparalleled. This year, my peers and I represented USC in the national Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP) Foundation Annual Pharmacy and Therapeutics Competition and brought home second place.

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

This past year, I received the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship along with another classmate. The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship vision is to create a global corps of leaders who promote positive change with and in our communities, our health and human service systems, and our world.

Our project aimed to address the lack of students of color in the healthcare profession by teaching a health disparities course at local high schools in the Los Angeles area. The course exposed students to social determinants of health, encouraged them to explore the various healthcare professions, and empowered them to be agents of change in their own communities.

Through the fellowship, I had the opportunity to be mentored by Dr. Steven Chen and to work in interdisciplinary teams. I am so grateful to have met so many aspiring healthcare professionals eager to address health inequities.

Why did you choose USC School of Pharmacy?

I chose USC School of Pharmacy because of its established program. USC has world renowned faculty doing innovative work in the field of pharmacy, and because of my desire to explore nontraditional paths in pharmacy, I knew that USC was the right fit for me.

Why should prospective students consider USC School of Pharmacy?

There are too many to list! Prospective students should consider USC School of Pharmacy because 1.) we are an established university with an enormous alumni network that includes experts in every type of practice; 2.) we offer dual degree programs that are not offered at other programs; 3.) we have one of the largest residency and fellowship programs in the country.

Most importantly, prospective students should consider USC because of the people. I have been privileged to have met amazing mentors and friends throughout the last two years here.

What advice do you have for incoming pharmacy students?

I have three pieces of advice for new pharmacy students:

1. Get to know your faculty: USC has some of the most world-renowned faculty members, and they truly care about the development of students.

2. Be okay with failure. Use these as teachable moments that will help you grow and become a better healthcare provider.

3. Do not forget your why. Pharmacy school can be difficult, and in moments of adversity, it is easy to forget why you chose to be here. Take the time to reflect on your motivations for pursuing this profession.

What is the learning environment like at USC School of Pharmacy?

USC students are incredibly supportive of one another. Pharmacy school can be difficult, but I am able to get through this experience because of the people. My classmates are very willing to share their resources when I am in need, and faculty members reach out when they notice that students are struggling. I feel supported at USC.