Meet Our Alumni

See what some of our alumni have been doing since graduating from Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Class of 2006
Joe Ennesser

Joe Ennesser

Hometown?

Portland, OR

Favorite television show?

Wonders of the Universe (a BBC series), every time I watch it I get inspired.

Dream vacation destination?

Iceland – desolate, serene, beautiful. At summer solstice would be ideal!

Food you can’t live without?

Technically, water. Personally, pizza!

Hobbies?

 Ha ha, I have too many!  Running, cycling, exploring, and landscape photography. You can see some of my photos on my website www.breakinglightphoto.com

Current position/title and location?

Sr. Healthcare Market Leader with Target. Based in Portland, OR

What do you do? What is your role and responsibilities?

I oversee healthcare operations for 200 Target pharmacies across 11 states. I am responsible for long term goal planning, new program rollouts, maintaining federal/state compliance, ensuring accountability, and talent planning and meeting company financial/operational goals.

Did you do a residency? If so, which one(s)?

No

Why did you choose a career in Pharmacy?

Originally it was to help people to be healthy and have an impact on their lives along with a career that offers flexibility to live just about anywhere in the country. Now what motivates me is inspiring other pharmacists achieve their best and helping them to learn and grow as leaders.

How has SSPPS prepared you for your career?

Aside from a top notch education, it definitely taught us to be resilient. Being part of the first class meant being part of the learning and growing that comes with a new program. We also had some of the most passionate and personally invested faculty/teachers I’ve ever met. They truly inspired me to be my best and still do to this day. I’m very thankful to have been part of this school.

What is your fondest memory of your time in school?

Being spread across all of the UCSD campus to get to all of our classes before the pharmacy building was built. Whether it was the super computer center or a mobile trailer, it was fun exploring campus and even finding some of the tunnels under it!

Words of Wisdom?

Whatever you choose to do, be engaged and passionate. Build energy and momentum around yourself. Whatever your dream is, find a way to make it happen. Most important, have fun!

Class of 2007

Lawrence AlejandroLawrence Alejandro

Hometown?

San Diego, California

How do you spend your free time?

I usually spend my free time taking my daughter to different fun and exciting places such as parks, museums, zoo etc… I also like to binge-watch exciting shows on Netflix with my wife, and usually you can find me doing Crossfit the rest of the time.

What is your favorite movie or television show?

So my top show of all time would have to be “Breaking Bad”, but currently I love watching “Fixer Upper” with my wife, always thinking about projects that we can do for our home.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?

I would love to go back to Paris with my family and spend a year there to be immersed in their food, arts and culture.

If you won the lottery, what would you do?

Live in different places around the world.

Current position and location:

Clinical Pediatric Pharmacist at Rady Children’s Hospital; Solid Organ Transplant Pharmacist and Beacon Oncology Pharmacist

Did you do a residency? If so, which one(s)?

Yes at Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego

Why did you choose a career in Pharmacy?

I love the different career paths that are available for a pharmacist to pursue.

How has SSPPS prepared you for your career?

SSPPS gave me the knowledge and training to handle patient’s complex medication regimens, while coming up with innovative pharmacotherapy solutions to challenging clinical presentations. Also when I was a student there was only a handful of clinical transplant pharmacist from SPPS, I believe that the school inspired and encourage me to embrace and excel in what was a relatively “new” area for pharmacist.

What is your fondest memory of your time in school?

The times that I spent with my friends in and out of the classroom.

Words of Wisdom?

Find an area in pharmacy you love, so that it never feels like a job.

Class of 2008

Amy NguyenAmy Nguyen

Hometown?

Moore, Oklahoma

Favorite movies?

Pulp Fiction, The Princess Bride

Dream vacation destination?

Maldives (one day, I'll make it)

Food you can’t live without?

Vietnamese soups... there are about 12 different ones including phở that I could eat on constant rotation every day of my life for the rest of my life.

Hobbies?

International travel (one new country per year is my goal!), playing tennis, cooking, eating, eating, and eating.

Current position/title and location?

Full time: Profil Institute for Clinical Research: Clinical Pharmacist, Pharmaceutical Services Supervisor
Per Diem: UCSD Moores Cancer Center: Oncology Pharmacist

What do you do? What is your role and responsibilities?

Profil Institute: I am a clinical pharmacist and supervisor of our Pharmaceutical Services team at Profil Institute for Clinical Research. My company specializes in clinical trials for diabetes and obesity. Some of my roles include overseeing active clinical trials and ensuring that the protocol and study design remains intact. Myself and the head of Pharmaceutical Services manage our team of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to ensure that work flow is optimal and conducive to patient safety, data integrity, and efficiency. My responsibilities also include attending site investigator meetings, and reading over new protocols, and study designs for upcoming studies in our pipeline. I attend many meetings in regard to pipeline studies to ensure that the study designs transcend into real-life clinical settings. In addition, I write SOP guidelines for our group as well as hold meetings to train multi-functional groups within the company on the pharmacology of our study drugs.

UCSD Moores: I work part-time at the UCSD Moores Cancer Center as an oncology pharmacist. I specialized in oncology for 4 years in Manhattan hospitals/clinics after the completion of my residency program in 2009, so oncology has been my career passion. I am thankful that even though I switched full-time to diabetes and obesity research, I am still able to work in direct patient care in the therapeutic area of oncology at Moores. It is a treat for me to come in and work with such a great group of pharmacists in a very motivating environment. Plus, have you been to Moores? It's such a beautiful clinic.

Did you do a residency? If so, which one(s)?

After graduating in 2008 from Skaggs, I moved across the country to New York City for my PGY-1 residency, specializing in Ambulatory Care at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center- Manhattan Campus. I ended up living in Manhattan for 5 years before recently moving back to San Diego September 2013. I can't believe nearly a year has passed since I've moved back here!

Why did you choose a career in Pharmacy?

I spent the last semester of undergrad studying at the University of Sydney; then I backpacked through Australia, SE Asia, and Western Europe by myself for nearly a year after the semester ended. When I returned home to Oklahoma, with tan skin and very long hair...my mother snapped me back into reality and said, "You've had a lot of fun for a year...what are you going to do with your life?" I panicked when I didn't have an answer for her, so I moved from Oklahoma to San Diego 3 months later. From there, I waited tables in downtown La Jolla and did a lot of deep thinking on whether I wanted to commit additional years to my education. After speaking to my sister and brother, who were already pharmacists at the time, I decided that it would be the best field for me to invest my career plans into. They both were working in entirely different settings and both very happy professionally. It was enticing to me that they both had the same degrees (PharmD), yet they were working in very diverse environments. My parents were thrilled when I informed them of my decision. They were pretty worried that I would turn into a wandering nomad.

How has SSPPS prepared you for your career?

SSPPS prepared me for my career by emphasizing the importance of clinical knowledge and professionalism. Our reputation of work ethic and clinical knowledge really transcends across the country. And I speak from experience!

What is your fondest memory of your time in school?

One of my many fond memories of SSPPS was the continual and consistent feeling of comradery and intimacy felt between classmates and faculty due to our small class size of 30. Having a small class size enabled us to get to know the personalities of each of our classmates and develop lasting friendships with them. I went to the University of Oklahoma for my bachelor's degree, and every course I took had at least 150 students in the classroom. SSPPS was the first academic environment that I had ever experienced where we had such personal attention/constant availability from our faculty. I really appreciate this unique experience and how each of us were genuinely cared for by our faculty/mentors. Even now, 6 years after graduation, I still feel looked after by everyone at SSPPS!

Words of Wisdom?

There's no right or wrong professional decision, as pharmacy is such a dynamic field with endless opportunities! Make decisions that feel right or that is best for you at the moment, and it will undoubtedly lead you into new paths, beneficial challenges, and optimal growth. It sounds cheesy, but it's so true. I'm serious :)

Class of 2010

Rachel SperlingRachel Sperling

Hometown?

San Diego

Favorite movie or television show?

My favorite movies are Spaceballs and The Princess Bride.

Dream vacation destination?

I went to New Zealand earlier this year, and I'm vacationed out for a while! I do want to see the aurora borealis (or australis) someday, though.

Food you can’t live without?

Chocolate!

Hobbies?

Reading, hiking, spending time with friends and family

Current position/title and location?

MTM Pharmacist with the Sharp Community Medical Group

What do you do? What is your role and responsibilities?

We conduct complete medication reviews for patients with complicated medication regimens and make recommendations to their physicians. We also help to cover the Coumadin clinic.

Did you do a residency? If so, which one(s)?

PGY1 Community Residency at USC

Why did you choose a career in Pharmacy?

When I looked into pharmacy as a career, it just clicked for me! I've always been interested in biology and chemistry, and I like working with people. I took a year off after undergrad and worked as a pharmacy clerk, and I knew very quickly that it was the right choice for me.

How has SSPPS prepared you for your career?

By giving me a solid knowledge base, a framework for learning, and a wonderful network of friends and mentors.

What is your fondest memory of your time in school?

I have to pick just one??

Words of Wisdom?

Don't be afraid to go out of your comfort zone - you may find where you are meant to be!

Class of 2011

Kayvan MoussaviKayvan Moussavi

Hometown?

Rancho Cucamonga, CA

Favorite movie or television show?

Movie- Hot Fuzz. Show- True Detective

Dream vacation destination?

Whistler Blackcomb, BC, Canada

Food you can’t live without?

Cereal

Hobbies?

Soccer, snowboarding, traveling

Current position/title and location?

Clinical Pharmacy Specialist- Emergency Department

Loma Linda University Medical Center

What do you do?

Emergency Department Pharmacist

What is your role and responsibilities?

Approve all medication orders for adult and pediatric patients in our Emergency Department (ED), answer drug information questions for physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, social workers, and any other ED staff, provide medication-related recommendations to physicians to help ensure optimum care of patients, design and complete quality improvement projects for the ED and medical center, and precept pharmacy students and residents. 

Did you do a residency? If so, which one(s)?

PGY1- Acute Care Residency at UCSD Health System

PGY2- Critical Care Residency at Loma Linda University Medical Center

Why did you choose a career in Pharmacy?

I always had an interest in medicine and healthcare. My research into what healthcare-related careers would be best for me showed that pharmacy would allow me to focus on one of the most interesting aspects of medicine (i.e. pharmaceutical care) and provide an essential skillset and knowledge base to the healthcare system while still having time for family, friends, and social activities.

How has SSPPS prepared you for your career?

My time at SSPPS was a challenging but extremely rewarding experience. The curriculum was excellent and I had many opportunities to develop my leadership skills. This prepared me for residency and life as a clinical practitioner.

What is your fondest memory of your time in school?

Too many fond memories to list. What I miss most is being able to see my pharmacy school friends on a regular basis like I did while I was a student.

Words of Wisdom?

The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.

 


Tim BassellTim Bassell

Hometown?

West Nyack, NY

Favorite movie or television show?

The Princess Bride

Dream vacation destination?

New Zealand

Food you can’t live without?

Cereal

Hobbies?

Running

Current position/title and location?

Staff pharmacist, UCSD Medical Center, Hillcrest

What do you do?

Staff pharmacist, overnight shift

Did you do a residency? If so, which one(s)?

PGY1 UCSF

Why did you choose a career in Pharmacy?

Because it's the coolest!

How has SSPPS prepared you for your career?

By building a solid foundation in health sciences that has allowed me to continue my own education in a variety of sometimes unexpected circumstances.

What is your fondest memory of your time in school?

Learning the Thriller dance

Words of Wisdom?

Do your best!

Class of 2012

Andrew WahlertAndrew Wahlert

Hometown?

Laguna Niguel, California

Favorite television show?

24

Dream vacation destination?

Italy

Food you can’t live without?

Mexican

Hobbies?

Traveling the world, avid golfer and basketball player, beach and water sports

Current position/title and location?

Associate Manager, Medical Information at Avanir Pharmaceuticals located in Aliso Viejo, CA.

What do you do? What is your role and responsibilities?

In the Medical Affairs Department, I am responsible for creating, maintaining and communicating fair and balanced medical information to the medical community in accordance with the regulatory (FDA) guidelines. In addition, I am fortunate to precept and teach 4th year pharmacy students during their Industry Elective APPE rotation.

Did you do a residency or fellowship? If so, which one(s)?

Following my graduation from UCSD SSPPS, I completed a one-year USC-Allergan Post-doctoral Pharmaceutical Industry Fellowship in Clinical Development. I participated in clinical trial design and strategy for Phase II/III trials in the retina therapeutic area.

How has SSPPS prepared you for your career?

The resources that are available at UCSD SSPPS are truly remarkable. In addition to the wonderful pharmacy education I received, there were many other ways to compliment my didactic education including health fairs and research. While earning my PharmD, I was awarded a NIH/NIDA Research Training Grant in Neuroscience Related to Drug Abuse. I worked with top researchers in Alzheimer’s disease and Pain under this training grant; the research resulted in a first-authored peer-reviewed publication in a scientific journal. The educational blend of clinical pharmacy, community service and research has definitely prepared me for my current and future job positions.

What is your fondest memory of your time in school?

The fondest memory from school is interacting with my classmates and future professional peers.

Words of Wisdom?

UCSD SSPPS is an exceptional place to foster and develop the foundation of your pharmacy career. The school is forward-thinking, flexible and supportive of any direction you want to take your pharmacy career; take advantage of all the resources at UCSD SSPPS.

Class of 2013

Samuel MendozaSamuel Mendoza

Hometown?

Tucson, AZ

How do you spend your free time?

Photography, yoga, fixing my motorcycle, exercising, and watching the History Channel.

What is your favorite movie or television show?

Movie: The Professional TV: Downton Abbey

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?

Israel, it is a focal point for 3 major religions, it has vast amounts of history and culture.

If you won the lottery, what would you do?

Get my family situated so they would not have to worry about money, ie education for the kids; I then would devote the remainder of the money to sustainable projects that support education, health programs, and performing arts for underprivileged.

Current position and location:

US Naval Officer Pharmacist

What do you do? What is your role and responsibilities?

Staff Pharmacist and Division Officer for the Central Refill Facility and Naval Branch Health Clinics

Why did you choose a career in Pharmacy?

I wanted to use my interest in science and apply it to helping care for patients.

How has SSPPS prepared you for your career?

It provided me the tools, and background to help me accomplish my job.

What is your fondest memory of your time in school?

Meeting, learning, and having fun with my classmates.

Words of Wisdom?

Always keep learning.

Class of 2014

Denise HaranoDenise Harano

Hometown?

San Jose, CA

How do you spend your free time?

Yoga, cooking, eating, traveling, and cheering on the Green Bay Packers

What is your favorite movie or television show?

Current favorite is Game of Thrones

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?

Italy for the art and food

If you won the lottery, what would you do?

Buy a house

Current position and location:

Inpatient pharmacist at VA Palo Alto

What do you do? What is your role and responsibilities?

Verify inpatient medication orders, discharge counseling, PK dosing and monitoring.

Did you do a residency? If so, which one(s)?

PGY-1 at Jesse Brown VA in Chicago

Why did you choose a career in Pharmacy?

I really liked chemistry and knew I wanted to be involved with healthcare in some way. Once I found out how diverse pharmacy was I decided to go to pharmacy school.

How has SSPPS prepared you for your career?

It provided a strong foundation to build on during residency and work.

What is your fondest memory of your time in school?

All of the end of the year activities and graduation.

Words of Wisdom?

Explore as many areas of pharmacy as you can while you're a student, you never know what area you will like or dislike until you try it.

Class of 2016

Sarah Ross-WalkerSarah Ross-Walker

Hometown? Coachella, CA.

 How do you spend your free time?

I spend my free time playing with my Pomsky Beau, watching movies, and reading books. When I’m not at home with my furbaby you can find me at Disneyland with my husband, family, and friends.

What is your favorite movie or television show?

Grey’s Anatomy! It’s my guilty pleasure.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?

This one is hard. I would travel to Paris, Tahiti, and New Zealand. Because each destination offers it’s own unique unforgettable experience and a picturesque location that is sure to dazzle all the senses.

If you won the lottery, what would you do?

Buy my friends and family everything they ever wanted, I’d continue to support non-profit organizations that are making a difference around the world, and I’d set up scholarships to support those following their dreams with limited means.

Current position and location:

Inpatient Clinical Pharmacy Specialist, Kaiser Permanente Orange County

What do you do? What is your role and responsibilities?

I’m an inpatient pharmacist that covers all areas of the hospital. No day is typical and everyday brings something new and exciting. We cover rounding in areas like the ICU, NICU, Pediatrics, and Oncology; and attend all codes from code blue to stroke codes. We cover all orders and clinical duties for every patient in the hospital from the ICU to the ER, I also precept students and PGY1 residents.     

Did you do a residency? If so, which one(s)?

Yes, I did a PGY-1 Residency at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego, CA.

Why did you choose a career in Pharmacy?

I choose a career in pharmacy because it was one of the fastest growing professions. It offered diverse opportunities to practice, and offered the opportunity for lifelong learning. I knew being a pharmacist would allow me the chance to make a difference in the lives of my patients and to bridge the gap between patients and practitioners.

How has SSPPS prepared you for your career?

SSPPS went above and beyond to prepare me for my future career. They focused on graduating students that would go on to become pharmacists operating at the top of their license throughout the specialties within the pharmacy profession. They pushed us to work hard because they knew the raw potential of each and every student. They exposed us to fierce and passionate mentors and professors that helped mold the way we would one day teach and mentor our students.

What is your fondest memory of your time in school?

TOO MANY!! Probably all the late hour study sessions with my Pharmily.

Words of Wisdom?

Something my dad always used to tell me was to choose to do something you love for a living, and if you do you will never really work a day in your life. I would add to stay focused, strong, and persevere. All the struggles, tears, doubts, hardships, and breakdowns along the way will all be worth it when you get where you’re going.   

 

Class of 2019

Jordan AmatoJordan Amato

Hometown? Jamul, CA

How do you spend your free time? Scuba diving or playing board games

What is your favorite movie or television show? Game of Thrones (until the last season)

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why? Beach camping in San Felipe, Mexico.  My family and I have been traveling to this small fishing town on the coast of Baja California for years and there is really no place that can compare. 

If you won the lottery, what would you do? I would move to Bora Bora or New Zealand to scuba dive

Current position and location: PGY1 Pharmacy Resident at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla

What do you do? What is your role and responsibilities?

Did you do a residency? If so, which one(s)? PGY1 Acute Care Residency at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla

Why did you choose a career in Pharmacy? I chose pharmacy after witnessing the knowledge gap between patient's and their medications. I hope empower these patients to have a better understanding of pharmacy.

How has SSPPS prepared you for your career? SSPPS has provided me with the knowledge to critically assess medication therapy and determine if a regimen is safe and effective for that patient. Through our curriculum we learned to problem solve, work closely with an interdisciplinary team, and provide patient-centered care. 

What is your fondest memory of your time in school? Making life-long friendships with classmates and faculty. 

Words of Wisdom? Approach every situation with a positive outlook.