Meet Our Students

UCSD SSPPS Student Ambassadors

Student Ambassadors for Office of Admissions and Outreach (2019-2020)

 

Take a moment to meet some of our current students. You will learn some fun personal information about them as well as why they chose Pharmacy as a profession and their experiences in school so far.

ASP Website: http://asucsd.wixsite.com/asucsd

 

Our Students Welcome You to Skaggs

Class of 2019:

Kaylene De Vries

Kaylene De VriesKaylene is from McFarland, CA and graduated from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. She goes surfing any chance she gets and loves to enjoy the San Diego air. Her favorite food is tacos and she loves to eat them while binging Supernatural on Netflix. Her life goal is to surf the coast of every major country at least once.

Why did you choose UC San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy?

The biggest reason I chose to come to Skaggs School of Pharmacy was because I missed home after being out of state for four years of undergrad. The small class sizes and the personal relationships students develop with their professors were just additional perks. It also didn’t hurt that the school provides many opportunities for students to get out into the community and work even before completing their degree.

What has been your most rewarding experience at school so far?

The most rewarding experience I have had so far has been working in the student run free clinics. I was fortunate enough to run the immunization program at the clinics for a year and a half and during that time I truly understood the influence a pharmacist can have in the community. We all know that pharmacists are on the front lines of public health, but actually getting to work with those who generally can’t afford health care first hand and make a difference in their lives was and is an incredible experience.

What student organizations are you involved with? What is your role?

One of the great things about the small class sizes at Skaggs is that everyone is incredibly involved in nearly every organization on campus. I myself am lucky enough to serve on several of those executive boards and develop my skills as a leader while studying here at UCSD. I have served as Operation Immunization Chair for APhA-ASP/CPhA, Sergeant-at-Arms for Kappa Psi Pharmaceutical Fraternity - Delta Phi Chapter, and Class President for AS during my P2 year. Currently, I serve as Regent of Kappa Psi and CPhA Board of Delegates Representative for APhA-ASP/CPhA. Through these opportunities I have been able to increase student involvement in outreach programs and pushed more of them to develop their networking skills especially when we attend conferences throughout the year

What is the best thing about living and working in San Diego?

The best thing about being in San Diego is definitely the beach. I know everyone says that, but its true San Diego has perfect weather nearly year round and having the beach right there so close to school is amazing. There’s no better way to de-stress from work and school than a relaxing walk on the beach or a quick surf.

What is the most memorable thing about your P1 year?

The most memorable thing about my P1 year was definitely our Thanksgiving potluck. Since Skaggs keeps the class size small, we all get to know each other really well and get together as a class outside of school. The Thanksgiving potluck was our first huge social event and it was a ton of fun, everyone brought something home-made and we spent the whole time laughing and dancing around. It was a really nice way to get the stress of midterms off of everyone’s mind.

What are your career aspirations?

My career aspirations are constantly changing. With every new class and guest lecturer, there are a ton of options and it makes it hard to decide where I want to work once I’m a pharmacist. At the moment, I want to work in retail and move my way up the ladder to eventually be CEO of a company like CVS. However, after experiencing my first IPPE hospital rotation, emergency medicine has really appealed to my fast pace state of mind. Thankfully, Skaggs has lots of resources students can use to explore the many career options pharmacy offers.

Words of Wisdom to incoming students?

Always make time for yourself! Sometimes with the busy class schedule, all the orgs on campus, clinic, and work, pharmacy student life can seem hectic and overwhelming. What’s really helped me survive is always making time to do something for myself whether it be a quick thirty-minute walk to grab coffee with a friend or a whole Saturday at the beach; anything non-pharmacy related to keep me grounded.

Serinna Singh

Serinna SinghQue onda (what’s up) everyone! My name is Serinna; some call me Chata. As I write this intro section for you all, I am currently a P3 and it is early October 2017. I’m from Calexico, California – where this past July, temperatures shot up to 125 degrees!

A little bit about my nerdy background: I majored in chemistry, with a minor in biology, at the University of San Diego (USD, not UCSD or SDSU). What do I like doing in my spare time? Cruising around the neighborhood, with windows down and music blasting! I’m also a huge fan of dancing salsa and bachata. One of my favorite times of the year is San Diego Restaurant Week because I love going on “food adventures”. San Diego keeps churning out new cafes and food spots - it’s insanely fun meeting all of them. I’m also big on napping. Yep, if you can’t seem to find me for a couple hours, I’m most likely in dreamland under my fleece blanket. Favorite artists? On the Latino music scene, Nicky Jam!!!! On the American side, Keith Sweat!!

Why did you choose UC San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy?

Skaggs was the only pharmacy school I applied to because it was the best fit for me, my interests, and my skill set. A number of factors went into this decision. My undergrad experience was amazing, and I know a lot of it had to do with the fact that class sizes were maintained at around 30 students. When I compared the class sizes of pharmacy schools in California, picking Skaggs was a no-brainer.

UCSD was already on my radar though. The way I saw it, there were three big reasons why it was the way to go for me – starting with the fact that it’s only about 1.5 hours away from my family and hometown. Plus, there’s the huge appeal of taking second year classes with the medical students from our neighbor across Osler Lane, UCSD’s School of Medicine. One of the beautiful aspects about UCSD’s Student Run Free Clinic is it lends itself to plenty of collaboration between pharmacy and medical students. And what an awesome feeling it is, realizing how many of those friendly faces look familiar because you’ve already shared classes and worked on projects together. Another amazing detail that I believe truly sets UCSD apart from the rest of the California pharmacy schools is its proximity to the US-Mexican border. Since I speak Spanish, I knew I would feel extremely useful with any health outreach in areas like these. You see, another benefit of having the School of Medicine as our next door neighbor means that the medical students reach out to pharmacy students so we collaborate together on health outreach events in the community. Pretty genius, don’t you think?

Finally, navy blue is a good color on everybody.

What has been your most rewarding experience at school so far?

My ultimate favorite: the UCSD Student-Run Free Clinic (SRFC). Attending physicians and pharmacists oversee the show on the healthcare side, but it is such an impressive scene where medical and pharmacy students work together to provide care to patients in need. Free clinic has a core philosophy, the tenets being: (1) EMPOWERMENT, or helping patients feel they are taking charge of their health and well-being; (2) HUMANISTIC, which reminds us the value of awareness, empathy, and humility during each patient connection; (3) TRANSDISCIPLINARY, which highlights the value of members from different disciplines collaborating - with the patient connecting us all together; and (4) COMMUNITY AS TEACHER, which reminds us that there’s always an opportunity to learn, especially from our patients. Hopefully now, you can imagine what a rewarding environment it is to be a part of.

In your P1 year at Skaggs, each student is assigned a clinic day they must attend each week (for a total of 3 visits). This very IPPE experience is the one that sparked my love and fascination for free clinic, which continues to this very day. I feel injected with the same energy and enthusiasm because each clinic visit experience confirms I am in the right career. Free Clinic is where I feel I fit in – and you can imagine how seamlessly, given that Spanish was my first language. It’s so fulfilling to connect with our patients, because at free clinic we have the time to tune into them and truly gauge how they are feeling. That’s why counseling is always my favorite part at free clinic. I can walk through their medications at an easy pace so they feel reassured, safe, noticed, and listened to. (Plus, I don’t need a translator). UCSD’s SRFC not only grants us the opportunity to hone our bedside manner with patients, but what a feeling it is when you see physicians pop over to consult our pharmacists on medications. It reminds you of what makes our career as pharmacists so special: we are the drug experts.

What are your career aspirations?

You shouldn’t panic if you haven’t walked into Skaggs (or pharmacy school in general), already knowing exactly what you want to do. Trust me, it’ll just hit you one day and you will realize what appeals to you – like when you walk into a new café and something about that random drink with the mint makes your gut yell out “go for THAT one!”

I have three plan A’s: (1) apply for residency (love the rush of the hospital environment); (2) work for CVS y Mas (chain of retail CVS targeting the Hispanic population, and one already opened up close to home); (3) Costco (apparently people are happy there).

Words of Wisdom to incoming students?

Don’t let classes overwhelm you and get you obsessing about ‘brain stuff’. It’s definitely very important to know your material, but NEVER forget the value of being human. Of common sense. Of knowing how to connect with your fellow person. I hope pharmacists continue to advance in their recognition and value as part of the healthcare team – but this will only happen if we know how to be the best we can be. That means it’s not enough to just be the best nerd; you also need to know how to relate and meld with people too!

Remember to always be your beautiful self, even if the dominant, “popular” culture or personality set in your environment is something completely opposite. I truly believe being REAL is better than being perfect. No te dejes! Entrale con ganas y siguen adelante homies!

Tran Nguyen

Tran NguyenMy name is Tran Nguyen. I am originally from Vietnam and I have graduated from UC Berkeley in 2015 with a major of Molecular Environmental Biology. In my free time, I love doing hot yoga and outdoor activities, doing completely nothing after a long day of school or work, and travelling when school is not in session. I have been fortunate to visit more than 15 countries and I constantly find more opportunities to travel to even more places, especially when those opportunities are mission trips to help those in need. Right now, I would love to travel to Africa because I have heard that the culture is incredibly unique and the animals are so majestic and I would love to see and experience that in person.

Why did you choose UC San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy?

I was intrigued by Skaggs when I learned about the small class size of around 60 students and how approachable and inspiring the professors are. Although those two are still certainly true, I have found millions of other reasons that made me so grateful and humbled that I get to spend 4 years learning and making memories at Skaggs. All of us are so engaged in helping the local communities through UCSD Free Clinic as well as other communities such as Tijuana across the border with CSHP. Our professors and staffs are not only knowledgeable and resourceful, but also caring and kind to all of us. With the Pass/Fail system, we are all trying our best while constantly helping each other constantly. There is no such thing as a cut-throat learning environment at Skaggs. We all agree that Skaggs is a family, not just a school. There are so many other great things about Skaggs and I would love to meet you in person and share more of my experience with you.

What has been your most rewarding experience at school so far?

The most rewarding experience at school so far has been taking the anatomy course in the Spring quarter of P1 year. Our school is the only pharmacy school in the nation that offers anatomy course and I am so humbled and grateful for the opportunity. Since I am a visual learner, after taking the course and understanding that there are more than hundreds of ways to deliver drugs to our human bodies, I can now visualize where drugs are metabolized and delivered. And now more than ever, I honor and appreciate the complexity and grandeur of our human bodies and that has inspired greatly to become a compassionate and well-informed pharmacist.

What student organizations are you involved with? What is your role?

Since our school provides lots of leadership opportunities, I have had chances to be involved with many organizations such as ACTION, ASP, and UCSD Free Clinic. As an ACTION Leader, I organize different events for our student body for annual celebrations such as Welcome Back event, Valentine's Day, Chinese New Year, etc. As Association of Student Pharmacists (ASP) President, I plan annual school events, oversee all of our school organizations and help leaders organize their events for student body, and lastly serve as a communication bridge between students and faculty. I am involved with UCSD Free Clinic as a Pneumovax Clinic Manager. My role is to constantly check if our patients are indicated for Pneumovax vaccine or any other immunization such as Tdap before the clinic visits, administer the vaccines, and communicate with vaccine manufacturers and county health offices for reimbursement and funding. The opportunities offered here at school are incredibly diverse, I am sure anyone can find something that they are passionate about and get involved with here at Skaggs.

What is the best thing about living and working in San Diego?

Besides all the delicious Mexican and ramen places here in San Diego, I love driving along the beaches in such nice beautiful weather. We are spoiled in San Diego! ?

What is the most memorable thing about your P1 year?

After sitting in huge classrooms with more than 400 students back in those undergraduate years, I found it so fun and cozy to be in the same classroom with the same 60 classmates every day. We bring snacks for each other and share study notes on daily basis. I absolutely love this about pharmacy school!

What are your career aspirations?

I would love to become a clinical pharmacist who has figured out times to not only see patients or work in a hospital to triage and answer clinical questions, but also teach students in academic settings like our professors.

Words of Wisdom to incoming students?

This might sound very cliché. However, you should never be reluctant to reach out for new opportunities to learn more about different areas of pharmacy and to ask questions. Always seize any opportunity that is offered to you while practicing/maintaining good time-managing skills.

I also have learned that I have learned most about the medications' common precautions and side effects from participating many volunteer events. Thus, I always keep a small notepad in my white coat pocket and always jot things down as I encounter different medications at free clinics and volunteer events, or at work. By jotting those facts down as you learn them on-the-job, you instantly remember them more than trying to memorize them during lectures or for tests. Overtime, you build a vast amount of knowledge from seeing the medications "in action" and recall those memories more instantly.

Class of 2020:

Alicia Mcghie

Why did you choose UC San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy?

I chose UCSD Skaggs School of Pharmacy initially because I liked the small class sizes and the warmth I felt from the students in the student host room during my interview as well as from the interviewers. As I am now nearing the end of my time here at Skaggs, I can say from personal experience how the staff and faculty members know every student and work so hard to help us through our journey. Pharmacy school is not easy and the school is so supportive of each and every student. They want us to succeed. We are not just another number or another nameless student to them. We matter. And I loved having the opportunity to attend an institution where I can honestly say that. 

What has been your most rewarding experience at school so far?

My most rewarding experiences at school definitely revolve around the time I spent at UCSD’s Student-Run Free Clinic (SRFC).  The required participation during my first year was the gateway experience for my continued love and participation in the SRFC. In the hustle and bustle of classwork and homework, I sometimes felt like I would lose sight of the “why”.  Every time I go to Free Clinic reminds me why I want to become a pharmacist and why pharmacists are integral parts of any healthcare team. 

What student organizations are you involved with? What is your role?

Throughout my four years at Skaggs, I have been heavily involved in the UCSD SRFC and UCSD’s chapter of the American Pharmacists Association (APhA). For my first year, I served as APhA’s Operation Immunization Chair where I was able to attend SRFC once per week and work with volunteers to administer flu shots during flu season. My second year, I served as a Pneumovax manager for SRFC and Membership Vice President for APhA. My third year, I was a Clinic Manager for SRFC and Communication Vice President for APhA. And my final year, I continued as a Clinic Manager for SRFC. In addition to the experiences gained learning outside of a classroom, all the organizations are student-run and involvement has really pushed me to further develop leadership, networking and soft skills in working with others. 

What is the best thing about living and working in San Diego?

I know it sounds cliche, but the best things about living and working in San Diego truly are the amazing weather, beaches, delicious food and things to do. You are getting a top notch education and have so many opportunities career-wise without sacrificing the opportunities for a healthy work-life balance. 

What is the most memorable thing about your P1 year?

P1 year was such a fun year of getting to know my pharmily, studying hard and discovering all the different cuisines that San Diego has to offer (but really, finding the best taco stand). 

What are your career aspirations?

Even though I had done research into the different roles of pharmacists in healthcare before I started pharmacy school, Skaggs really opened up my eyes to just how many different avenues and job opportunities there are in pharmacy. At this point in my life, I have so many different interests that I still am not sure what my specific career aspirations are. However, I know that I want to explore both ambulatory care and acute care opportunities more during my residency year and see where life takes me. Ask me in five years, maybe I’ll have a more concrete answer then :)

Words of Wisdom to incoming students?

Be bold and get involved. With such a small class size and Skaggs being the only pharmacy school in San Diego, you have a plethora of opportunities to do research and be involved in student organizations. I promise you, you will not only gain soft skills and leadership skills that will aid you in your future careers, but you will make memories and interact with others in a much more meaningful way than solely studying from a textbook.

Also, don’t spend your four years stressing. Of course, there are times where stress is appropriate and necessary, but make sure you allow yourself time to decompress from school or work. Always do your best and have a good attitude without sacrificing your body or spirit. Things have a funny way of working out if you work hard, but rest hard as well. Pharmacy school is long and at times stressful, so learn to treat yourself and give yourself nights off. Your brain and body will thank you for it. 

Adrienne Nguyen

Hey everyone! My name is Adrienne Nguyen - born and bred in Orange County! I’ve been a Southern California girl my whole life and I hold a Bachelor’s in Biological Sciences from UCI. In my free time, I run a swimwear business, travel, play the violin & piano and document my style + journey through pharmacy on my personal blog - Google me if you want to read it!! My ultimate dream vacation is to bounce through all the Greek islands and venture through France to practice my French… a girl can dream, right?! 

Why did you choose UC San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy?

The small class size and grading system were two major components that swayed my decision to accepting my offer. I was a bit hesitant of how a pass/fail transcript would compare to the traditional GPA however, I can firmly say that it DID NOT impact my chances of getting post-graduate interviews and offers whatsoever. It’s actually a blessing in disguise! We’re all Type A’s but this metric allows for more collaboration since it removes the competition factor in the equation. From P1 - P4 year, my classmates have never disappointed and since we have such a small class, we got to know each other early on! The Class of 2020 is one for the books and I’m sure all my classmates will have fruitful careers in pharmacy.

What has been your most rewarding experience at school so far?

Everything comes full circle once APPE rotations begin. The wealth of information that was given to me in Pharmacy Practice and Therapeutics really came to shine. I must admit that it was a brutal awakening of just how complicated things are in reality. As a student, you’re learning and memorizing specific diseases in sections but when you’re thrown into the fire, you really have to be quick on your feet. All the patients I encountered had a myriad of underlying problems and were on numerous medications but I love puzzles and anomalies so I found these experiences very gratifying! Nevertheless, being able to have an impact on patient care, whether on a larger scheme as in the pharmaceutical industry or via direct patient interactions, has been such an enriching experience.

What student organizations are you involved with? What is your role?

I was a Student Ambassador since it’s inception! For those who know me personally, I expanded my blog to incorporate a pharmacy section during my 1st year of pharmacy school. I actually met a lot of current Skaggies through my blog while they were still in the application process! I’ve always enjoyed imparting any insight and helpful tips I gained through personal experiences since I didn’t have any guidance as I was navigating the application and interview process for pharmacy school. Being a Student Ambassador allowed me to continue mentoring in a more official capacity. I was able to speak to pre-pharmacy students and my favorite part was interviewing potential UCSD PharmD candidates! Additionally, I was also a member of PILL and it’s a great club for anyone who’s considering a career in the pharmaceutical industry; the company tours are definitely worth it and you get to see scientists in their natural habitat!

What is the best thing about living and working in San Diego?

Toasty weather year-round! Beaches up and down the coast! Countless trails! Great food! What’s not to love? San Diego is such a laid back and peaceful community where EVERYONE enjoys the outdoors! It’s also just a short drive from Orange County and LA! Oh, since Skaggs is the only pharmacy school in San Diego County, there’s so many amazing opportunities for students all around!

What is the most memorable thing about your P1 year?

Besides the rite of passage by way of the white coat ceremony, the most memorable thing about P1 year would have to be Gross Anatomy! It was the most eye-opening class I’ve ever taken and it makes you value life so much more. Despite the odd odor that tickles your sense of smell, this hands-on experience was one of the best things about pharmacy school at UCSD.

What are your career aspirations?

All the experiences I’ve acquired from my role as a clinical research specialist during undergrad to my P4 rotations in industry truly solidified my determination to pursue a career in pharma. I was fortunate to obtain fellowship and job offers during my last year in school and I’m happy to announce I will be a full-time Clinical Scientist after graduation! A career trajectory in pharma is my main goal… maybe I’ll even get an MBA to climb up that totem pole! 

Words of Wisdom to incoming students?

Congratulations on your admission to UCSD! The first two things that pop into my head: 1) Don’t lose sight of your passions when you enter pharmacy school; these outlets will keep you sane in the midst of studying! 2) One thing I cannot stress enough is connections. Creating long-lasting relationships is key in pharmacy and life. I’ve received so much invaluable advice and amazing opportunities because I wasn’t afraid to say hello or even add someone on LinkedIn to initiate a conversation. Be bold! Be unique! Be genuine! 

 

Kevin Nguyen

Hi everyone, my name is Kevin Nguyen! I have been fortunate to live in Southern California for all of my life; I’m originally from Orange County, but later moved to Los Angeles for my undergraduate studies and received a B.S. in Biology from UC Los Angeles. Afterwards, I worked as a pharmacy technician for Target/CVS Pharmacy for a year before moving to San Diego to attend pharmacy school at UC San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences! In my spare time, I like to travel, explore new places to eat (I’ve been to my share of all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ, hot pot, and sushi restaurants), and find time for a trip to Disneyland.

Why did you choose UC San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy?

As a prospective pharmacy student, I prioritized looking for a pharmacy program that offered the flexibility to pursue a variety of extracurricular opportunities and my professional interests. After visiting Skaggs at an open house event and then later interviewing at the school, I was impressed with what the school had to offer and the potential for individual attention that is possible with a class size of 60-70 students. The school has remarkable opportunities for student leadership and research, a significant focus on building the clinical abilities of its students via its coursework and experiential opportunities, and a wonderful collaboration with medical students incorporated throughout the curriculum. Additionally, an honors/pass/fail system provides room for further non-academic exploration and reduces a lot of stress within the student body. Overall, these factors made the program at Skaggs stand out and I have loved the entirety of my experience here at UC San Diego! As a student here, I have witnessed the incredible support that the faculty and staff have for each individual student and have seen how they truly pushed each student to be as successful as possible.

What has been your most rewarding experience at school so far?

My most rewarding experience so far at the school has been my time as a member of UCSD Student-Run Free Clinic’s Tobacco Cessation and Medication Management Clinic (TCMMC) during my P3 year. As a member of the team at the Pacific Beach site, we worked with the medical student teams to manage patients who were current tobacco users or had complex medication regimens. My interactions with these patients have been extremely rewarding – it was heartwarming being able to discuss the difficulties that patients experienced and seeing the same patients return feeling healthier and appreciating what the clinic offers. Working with these clinic patients has consistently reminded me of the potential impact that I could have on the health of my patients and the importance of giving back to my community. These clinic experiences allowed for my growth as a clinician and really put my overall experiences during pharmacy school into perspective.

What student organizations are you involved with? What is your role?

I have been fortunate to be a part of the Class Board and the Association of Student Pharmacists (ASP) Executive Board through the first three didactic years of the UCSD curriculum. I served on the Class Board as a P1 and P2, as the ASP President-Elect as a P2, and as the ASP President as a P3. ASP serves as the student government at the school of pharmacy, oversees all student organizations, and coordinates large-scale social, outreach, and professional development events. As ASP President-Elect and ASP President, I was fortunate to serve as a liaison between the student body, student organizations, faculty, and staff. I also oversaw all Class Board and Executive Board activities and advised fellow board members regarding their events.

I served as a clinic manager for Dr. Candis Morello’s Diabetes Intensive Management Clinic (DIMM), a pharmacist-run ambulatory care diabetes clinic at the nearby Veterans Affairs San Diego medical center. Additionally, I served as a member of my class’s CAPSLEAD (California Pharmacy Student Leadership) team. During our P1 year as the delegates from UCSD, we attended a statewide leadership conference with teams from all California pharmacy schools. The program allowed us to pursue a short-term research project that was presented during our P2 year at the CSHP (California Society of Health-System Pharmacists) Seminar and CPhA (California Pharmacists Association) Western Pharmacy Exchange state conferences. My team’s assigned research topic investigates the potential impact of intern pharmacists on increasing the rates of non-influenza immunizations in the community. Currently, the team is pursuing a manuscript publication of our results!

As a P3 student, I was as a member of the UCSD Student-Run Free Clinic’s Tobacco Cessation and Medication Management Clinic (TCMMC) where we assisted in the management of patients being seen at the Pacific Beach clinic site. Each week, members of the team assist with managing patients’ complicated medication regimens and recommending medication interventions.

What is the best thing about living and working in San Diego?

The best thing about living and working in San Diego is definitely the weather – it’s never too cold and never too hot! Also, the diversity in the San Diego county area has been wonderful; with a nearby downtown area and many suburban areas close to plenty of eateries, there’s always plenty of things to do and places to go. It’s easy to quickly venture out of the area to other parts of Southern California.

What is the most memorable thing about your P1 year?

The most memorable thing about my P1 year was getting to meet everyone during my first quarter of pharmacy school! Moving to a new city and adjusting to a new school is always difficult, but I was lucky to have had a wonderful class that made things much easier. The first quarter allowed me to see everything that San Diego had to offer (especially finding my go-to boba shops and takeout restaurants!)

What are your career aspirations?

Although I have worked as a pharmacy intern at an outpatient/discharge pharmacy for Kaiser Permanente for the majority of my time in pharmacy school, I greatly enjoyed my inpatient acute care experiences during my fourth year rotations. As a student, my topics of interest have included internal medicine, infectious disease (especially HIV), and pharmacy administration, and I am hoping to continue exploring inpatient staffing and clinical specialist positions in the future. I have loved learning in academic institutions while on rotations and enjoyed the heavy collaboration between the various healthcare team members. One day, I would love to pursue a career in academia and facilitate the education and growth of future pharmacists!

Words of Wisdom to incoming students?

Although four years sounds like a long time, it will pass by very quickly! Take this time to really explore all of your options and be active in the school community and San Diego community – spend time with your classmates, become involved in student organizations/volunteer opportunities, get to know the faculty/staff, pursue research, and learn as much as you can both in the classroom and during experiential experiences! Your time in the classroom is very important, but be sure to take the time to broaden your horizons outside of the didactic coursework.

Although being stressed is unavoidable and some stress is necessary to keep yourself motivated and productive, there are always going to be things that are out of your control. It is important to learn to not be overwhelmed by these things! Always have a good attitude, be confident in your abilities, and put your best foot forward.

Class of 2021:

Lytia Lai

Hi there! My name is Lytia Lai - I am originally from Hong Kong and graduated from UC Irvine in 2016 with a B.S. Pharmaceutical Sciences. I like to spend my free time immersed in nature, reading memoirs, or doing some form of physical activity. I am more comfortable in the water than I am on land, and my happiest memories involve scuba diving – sharks, coral reef walls, and shipwrecks are my favorite!  

Why did you choose SSPPS?

When I was applying to pharmacy school, I wanted a program that emphasized knowledge required in a clinical pharmacist, offered interdisciplinary opportunities, and nurtured my mental health in parallel with my professional growth.

I chose SSPPS because the curriculum is very clinical, it has a joint classes with medical students (our P2 year), has a pass/no-pass grading system, and continues to have one of the highest board exam pass rates.

What has been your most rewarding experience at school so far?

Reflecting back on my past three years at SSPPS, my most rewarding experience is having the opportunity to learn from extremely intelligent, hardworking and patient pharmacists who teach our courses. Many of our lecturers are pioneers in their field (e.g. Transplant, infectious diseases, cardiovascular disease), and they have opened my eyes to specialties and practice settings that I was unaware of (e.g. consultant services, interdisciplinary clinics). Through these continuous interactions, I have developed new interests and gained appreciation for fields that differ from my own path.  

I am very grateful that SSPPS is part of such a large university campus and has expansive affiliations in the field of healthcare; it is a privilege to have mentors affiliated with UCSD, I treasure my collaborations with medical and graduate students, and I really enjoy sharing my journey with undergraduate students.

What student organizations are you involved with? What is your role?

I entered pharmacy school with a clear purpose of sharing the importance of providing culturally competent care with my colleagues. This led me to serve as one of the co-chairs for LGBTQ PhaM during my P1 year. My role included organizing speaker sessions for medical and pharmacy students, with topics pertaining to the coming out experience, the trans experience, and actionable items that current and future healthcare providers can implement to create a more welcoming healthcare environment for LGBTQIA patients. In my third year, I had the privilege of being a panelist at LGBTQ PhaM’s annual Rainbow Pinning Ceremony.

During my P2 year I served on the Executive Planning Committee for the 5th annual Southern California LGBTQIA+ Health conference. This student-led conference is a collaboration of various health professional schools in Southern California, and aims to mainstream the highest quality of care for the LGBTQIA+ community by bringing together diverse practitioners dedicated to evidence-based care, education, research, advocacy, and public policy that promote equality and respect for LGBTQIA health.

In my effort to build community within SSPPS, I became an ACTION Leader. My role involved hosting festive and culture-based events for students and faculty. Additionally, I organized smaller events for the P1 members of my ACTION family in hopes of providing a safe space, a sense of community, and an opportunity to nurture their identities outside of school.

More recently, three graduate students and I founded the first-ever LGBTQIA-focused branch of the UCSD Graduate Student Association. The purpose of our organization is to bring together LGBTQIA graduate students across all departments, and to build a sustained community that will go on to advocate for intersectional social issues affecting the campus.

What is the best thing about living and working in San Diego?

I truly appreciate that the environments where I can unwind and recharge are very accessible and close to campus. I go to Torrey Pines Gliderport regularly to watch paragliders fly, soak in the sunset, and run along the beach. There are also designated bike trails, hikes and campgrounds in the area.

What is the most memorable thing about your P1 year?

During our Pharmacy Practice class, we had a drug-adherence activity where students were given complex medication regimens (in the form of candy) and we logged all our completed doses for a week. Even with my high level of health literacy, I was only able to achieve 67% adherence. This experience has given me invaluable insight and empathy towards patients with complicated co-morbidities and inevitable polypharmacy, as I now truly understand that their lifestyle is profoundly impacted by timing their medications.    

What are your career aspirations?

Throughout the course of my education, there are various fields within pharmacy that piqued my interest (e.g. Transplant, working with veterans, ambulatory care, pain and palliative care); I am excited to experience these settings first-hand during my P4 rotations.

Holistically, I aspire to serve patients who are experiencing a life-changing chapter in their health, and I want to support them longitudinally throughout their journey to establishing a new-normal. I also have a particular interest in addressing health disparities and providing care to vulnerable and overlooked populations that are affected by intersectional social issues. I hope to work in a setting where I can learn about patients’ unique health needs, empower patients by elevating their health literacy, and address institutional barriers to providing accessible and patient centered care.

Words of Wisdom to incoming Students?

Lead with passion rather than obligation. There were countless organizations and projects in pharmacy school that I could have dedicated my time to, but I found it to be most fulfilling when I had inherent care and commitment for a particular purpose.

Think about what community you want to serve, what problems you want to address, what impact you want to make during your time at SSPPS. I have found this mindset helpful in reducing burnout because investing my time and energy in projects that are important to me made the journey enjoyable, inspiring, and helped me grow both professionally and personally.

Steven Chen

My name is Steven and I am from Irvine, CA. I graduated from UC Irvine with a degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences. I am currently a third-year (P3) at Skaggs. Some of my favorite things to do are being outdoors and exploring new hiking trails. Besides hiking and staying active, I also love traveling. To me, some of the best things about traveling are seeing new places, understanding and appreciating different cultures, exploring new languages, and experiencing different ways of life. Last year in my P2 year, I was able to travel to Thailand and Europe with a few classmates. In my spare time, I manage my Instagram (TheRXLife) page, where I document my pharmacy journey and hope to inspire future pre-pharmacy students to pursue their passion for pharmacy.

Why did you choose UC San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy?

I applied to a total of five different pharmacy schools (UCSD, UCSF, USC, California Northstate, and WesternU) and I was fortunate to be accepted to all the schools that I had applied to. I chose my dream pharmacy school based on several reasons. Firstly, the location of the UCSD’s campus. I enjoy the warm, sunny, beautiful weather in San Diego. Secondly, the small class size. I went to UC Irvine for my undergraduate where each lecture would have 200 or more students. As a result, I really wanted a small class size where we could have more interaction with professors and faculty. Thirdly, the cost of living. UCSD is a public school with lower tuition compared to other pharmacy schools. In addition, UCSD offers many scholarships, graduate housing incentives, and grants to make higher education even more accessible. Fourthly, UCSD is the only pharmacy school in all of San Diego county. This gives students more rotation sites and intern opportunities. Lastly, UCSD’s close relationship with the School of Medicine. The classes among pharmacy and medical students foster relationships and inter-professional collaborations. Ultimately, I chose UC San Diego because I know this is where I belong. To this day, I couldn’t be happier with the decision I have made.

What has been your most rewarding experience at school so far?

The most rewarding experience at school so far has to be with my involvement with APhA-ASP/CPhA. Throughout these past 3 years, I have been an active chapter member and I have grown so much both within the organization, but personally as well. In my first year, I served as the Operation Heart Hypertension Chair, where I would contact local health fairs and agencies to create health outreach for pharmacy students, create handouts to educate patients on lifestyle modifications to improve their blood pressure readings, and train volunteers to perform hypertension screenings at local health education events. In my second year, I became President-Elect where I learned as much as I could from upperclassmen. This year, I have had the privilege to serve as our chapter president. Being the leader of 18 other board members has its challenges. However, my position has helped me tremulously to become a more mature student pharmacist and has given me the tools to become the best pharmacist I could be. 

What student organizations are you involved with? What is your role?

I am involved in several organizations on campus. However, the primary organization I am involved in is APhA-ASP/CPhA (American Pharmacists Association and the California Pharmacists Association). I have been with the organization since my first year at Skaggs. I am currently serving as the president of APhA where I work with 15 other board members to host health outreach events in the community, advocate for the advancement of pharmacy on a state and national level, host lunchtime talks, mentor pre-pharmacy students, and more. APhA-ASP/CPhA represents student pharmacists of all interests and holds a wide range of events to expose students to all opportunities available in the field of pharmacy.

Despite being a smaller school, Skaggs offers many organizations and interest groups on campus where students are able to express their interests and share ideas with peers. Besides APhA-ASP/CPhA, some of the organizations we have on campus are the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP-UCSD), College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacist (CPNP-UCSD), College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacist (CPNP-UCSD), California Society of Health-Systems Pharmacists (CSHP-UCSD), and many more! (https://pharmacy.ucsd.edu/current/student-body)

What is the best thing about living and working in San Diego?

I think the best thing about living and working in San Diego is the location! Skaggs is located in La Jolla, which is a suburban neighborhood where I feel safe walking outside late at night. In addition to its safety, La Jolla has beautiful beach shores and hiking trails. As an avid outdoor adventurer and hiker, there isn’t any location that is better than La Jolla. Downtown San Diego and Coronado Island are only a 15 to 20-minute drive south of UCSD. Due to its geographical location, San Diego has a diverse population. Because of this reason, San Diego has authentic tacos and a wide variety of diverse cuisines. One of my favorite things to do on the weekend is to find different coffee shops to study and eat delicious tacos during my study breaks. From the white sand beaches to delicious cuisine to perfect year-round weather to beautiful hiking trails, San Diego has everything that one can ask for.  

What is the most memorable thing about your P1 year?

The most memorable thing about my P1 year was learning how to give immunizations. The immunization course I took the weekend after the White Coat ceremony was the first in-person interaction I had with my fellow classmates. That was the first moment I felt that I was actually learning how to help my future patients. To make matters more fun, everyone was paired up with a classmate and practiced giving each other saline injections! Ouch! 

Outside of the classroom, my most memorable P1 year memory was exploring different restaurants and coffee shops with my friends. San Diego is a large metropolitan area, but it does have neighboring cities where there are different vibes. One of my favorite neighborhoods in San Diego is the neighborhood of North Park, which is known for its hipster-like cafés, trendy craft beer bars, and indie boutiques. 

What are your career aspirations?

Having to complete almost three years of the PharmD program and being able to immerse in different specializations of pharmacy, I have determined that my passion lies within Ambulatory Care pharmacy. Ambulatory Care Pharmacy addresses the provision of integrated, accessible healthcare services for ambulatory patients in a wide variety of settings, including community pharmacies, clinics, and physician offices. As an ambulatory care pharmacist, I would help my physician colleagues to manage chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart failure, transplants, and other specialties. An advantage of being an ambulatory care pharmacist is the collaboration agreement with the physician where pharmacists have the ability to order labs, modify medications, and add medications to help the patient reach his or her goal. I would very much enjoy the one on one interaction I would have with my patient. To me, being able to talk to my patient directly and being able to improve their health is the greatest reward as a healthcare provider.

Words of Wisdom to incoming students?

My word of wisdom to incoming students is to be open-minded. I would recommend all first-year students to explore the different paths of pharmacy. Join as many organizations on campus as possible, network with everyone you meet, build meaningful relationships with your colleagues, but also have fun too! Pharmacy school is a journey and not a marathon. To become a successful pharmacist one day, one must have the ability to adapt to changes, balance work-life, and help others with compassion. 

 

Alejandro Nava

Hey there! My name is Alejandro Nava and I am a current third-year pharmacy student. I graduated from UC Davis in 2016 with a degree in pharmaceutical chemistry and took a gap year before starting pharmacy school. I worked as a pharmacy clerk and wellness ambassador for Rite Aid before traveling abroad to Thailand and South America. Traveling solo through South America was by far one of the best and scariest decisions I ever made in my life!

As a San Diegan I enjoy surfing, eating tacos, and catching beautiful sunsets. There is no better place on earth to receive a pharmacy degree and I hope reading through these comments will convince you of that.

Why did you choose UC San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy?

Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (SSPPS) is part of the greater University of California, San Diego community and therefore hosts a plethora of opportunities to get involved with organizations, research, and community outreach. I decided to attend SSPPS because I knew it would provide me with the resources I would need to grow as a pharmacy student. As the only pharmacy school in San Diego County, SSPPS allows us to build relationships with pharmacists who work at Sharp Healthcare, Kaiser Permanente, Veterans Affairs, Scripps Health, Rady Children’s Hospital, and many others.

Additionally, our curriculum’s pass or no pass system encourages teamwork. This frees up invaluable time for us to grow outside of the classroom by taking on leadership positions within different organizations. Overall, I feel that SSPPS’s strength lies within providing its students with the knowledge to handle the fluidity of the pharmacy profession.  

What has been your most rewarding experience at school so far?

Reflecting back on my didactic curriculum, I remember feeling nervous and lost as a first-year pharmacy student. I would ask myself, “How am I going to tell my patients what they need to know about their medications in a professional and reassuring manner?”

Fast forward to my last quarter before rotations, I can confidently state that the most rewarding experience for me has been engaging with patients in the community setting. Using the pharmaceutical knowledge I have gained these past three years to help patients understand their medications and disease state will forever be the most rewarding experience I could have asked for as a pharmacy student.

What student organizations are you involved with? What is your role?

I have been involved with the Student Run Free Clinic Project (SRFCP) since my first year in pharmacy school. Beginning as a Pneumovax vaccine manager, I was able to assist patients in understanding the role that vaccinations play in their healthcare routine and to help explain this process to those who had concerns. I also participated in a research project that investigated the prevalence of Chagas Disease within patients at the SRFCP and in the greater San Diego area. I interviewed and educated patients on what the World Health Organization calls an emerging and neglected tropical disease.  

As a fourth-year pharmacy student, I am now able to serve the SRFCP as a pharmacy manager. This position allows me to empower patients to control their chronic diseases such as Diabetes, while also teaching the next generation of pharmacy students about topics that include hypertension and hyperlipidemia.

What is the best thing about living and working in San Diego?

Year-round sunshine and an average temperature of 70 degrees? What more can a graduate student ask for in terms of a living environment? If you’re going to put yourself through a grueling pharmacy degree, might as well be in a city that offers cotton candy sunsets, world class surfing, and the best tacos north of the border! Speaking of which, need a break? Baja California offers amazing wineries, fish tacos, and resort accommodations; all of which are about 2 hours away from campus. 

What is the most memorable thing about your P1 year?

Meeting my new cohort was by far the best experience of my first year in graduate school. During the spring quarter, I was able to take an amazing trip to Barcelona and Venice with three of my classmates. The rigorous academic years can be taxing at times so it’s important to reward yourself when you have the time. Going on this trip recharged my mental battery and brought me closer with some of my fellow classmates. I was also fortunate enough to go to the World Cup in Russia later that summer with my father and brother. Words cannot describe the excitement and joy that filled my heart when Mexico won against German (1-0) in Moscow. Celebrating that night till the sun went down is what makes all the hard work of studying till the sun comes up worth it.

What are your career aspirations?

As I begin my fourth year, I am looking forward to my acute care medicine and ambulatory care rotation. I believe that this will be the year where I will decide which of these two specialties I don’t want to do. This will provide me with insight I need to achieve my goals. At the end of the day, I plan to use my pharmacy degree to support patients suffering from Diabetes and its complications. Be it in the chronic management of Diabetes or in the setting of acute kidney injury, I know that putting passion, hard work, and determination first will always guide me to my dream career.

Words of Wisdom to incoming students?

Be true to yourself and keep exploring the different opportunities that graduate school will present to you. Four years may sound like a long time, but soon enough you will be practicing pharmacy and helping patients. Take advantage of being a pharmacy student. Travel, develop new hobbies, and find yourself. As much as we may believe that pharmacy school is only good for making pharmacists, it actually provides us with experiences that can change the world for the better. 

 

Urvashi Somani

I was born and brought up in India, moved to the UK for a couple years where I did my Masters in Molecular Medicine, and then eventually ended up here in beautiful Southern California. I can’t say enough how much I love San Diego. Obviously, I love traveling and moving around. My name is Urvashi, but everyone at Skaggs knows me as “UV.” Currently I’m a P3 and about to begin rotations. Had I not pursued science and pharmacy, I would be a dancer. Dance is my meditation, it heals and relaxes me in every possible way. I love watching documentaries, as well as discussing philosophy and spirituality.

Why did you choose UC San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy?

I only applied to two schools, both of which I was accepted for. But the deciding factor for Skaggs for me was the day of my interview. The warmth and friendliness of the faculty and student body at Skaggs gave me a sense of home away from home. It didn’t hurt that Skaggs is located in one of the most desirable places to live on Earth. Being a personable person with a strong research background and someone who learns much more effectively from a more hands-on approach, the small class size and dedication towards academics at Skaggs were definitely a plus. Being on a pass/fail system allows students to focus more on community-driven activities, and less on competing with fellow classmates for GPA. This is something I love about Skaggs.

What has been your most rewarding experience at school so far?

I didn’t realize that during our anatomy course we would have the opportunity to dissect, let alone participate in the dissection of the entire human body! I can’t emphasize enough how much gratitude I have for this course. Throughout my life I have learned much better when I am able to visualize what I’m trying to understand. Being able to actually see in person the complexity of our bodies was humbling. It was truly a rewarding experience and I sincerely appreciate all the people who donated their bodies to science, as well as to their families.

What student organizations are you involved with? What is your role?

I am involved with a bunch of student organizations. American Pharmacist Organisation (APhA) where I was VP of Special Event. Here, I had the opportunity to plan two events: CV/internship review fair and the biggest fundraiser of the organization called Mr. Pharmacy. I am also involved with CSHPs (California Society of Health-system Pharmacists) tobacco cessation clinic. Being completely new to the US, I understand how difficult it can be for someone to adjust in a new place and so I also served as one of the ACTION leaders where we try and make sure that every incoming student has proper resources and information and they are able to embark upon their journey comfortably.

I truly believe in the kind of education Skaggs has to offer and I want maximum number of students to have the opportunity to learn and study in this esteemed university and hence I also serve as one of the student ambassadors and admissions committee member.

What is the best thing about living and working in San Diego?

I don’t think there’s anything I can say about living and working in San Diego that hasn’t already been said before. It has perfect year-round weather, beautiful beaches, laid back and friendly people, as well as no shortage of excellent academic institutions, hospitals, and industries. Anyone would be lucky to spend even a short time in this beautiful city, let alone at least 4 years.

Words of Wisdom to incoming students?

Regardless of how busy you get with exams and classes, give yourself time to explore and experience different things relative to the pharmacy, as well as the world around you. This will allow you to help choose what suits you the most. Don’t give up despite how daunting things may seem to get. The faculty at Skaggs is amazing, don’t be afraid of reaching out to them.

What is the most memorable thing about your P1 year?

Hands-down the white coat ceremony was the most memorable experience for me as a P1. The sense of responsibility and pride I felt while taking the oath as a pharmacist was incredible. Having my family and loved ones present and supporting me was truly a great feeling, an experience I won’t forget.

What are your career aspirations?

Wow, there are many! Pharmacy is such a vast and interesting field that it is hard to decide on one scope of practice. When I entered Skaggs, like many others, I had little knowledge about the range of duties covered by a pharmacist. Over the course of my time at Skaggs hearing faculty members share their stories and experiences, I became more familiar with different fields within pharmacy. Shadowing pharmacists in different settings, I found the ambulatory care setting to be the one I am most passionate about. Having the clinical knowledge required to practice and treat patients, and then follow up on their progress is something that I currently want to do. Of course, as I continue to learn and explore all that pharmacy has to offer, my experiences could lead me to a different path than my present one.

Class of 2022:

Melanie Ghosn

Hi everyone! My name is Melanie and I am a Lebanese-American individual learning and growing much like everyone else on this journey we call life! You can usually find me at gliderport admiring the sunset after class or enjoying a long drive with no set destination. Adventure is always around the corner!

Why did you choose UC San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy?

I mean it’s UCSD Skaggs School of Pharmacy!  How blessed are we to go to a school right by the beach? How about the small class size, the most motivational and friendliest group of faculty, and challenging curriculum that keeps you on your toes? I am also local so I get to stay close to my closest friends and family, something that I do not take for granted! I can’t imagine being better off at any other school, it’s a challenging curriculum wherever you go but I can honestly say I am incredibly lucky to go to Skaggs School of Pharmacy for these reasons and more.

What has been your most rewarding experience at school so far?

The most rewarding experience for me would have to be creating the OSCE prep session for P1 students during my P2 year. As students, we are able to practice our counseling skills at Skaggs through cases and simulations with patients (actors) during such OSCEs. I was very intimidated for my first few OSCEs as a P1 and so I was able to give back through Entrepreneurs of Community Pharmacy (ECP, organization at Skaggs) by providing a mentorship-like-session for students to prepare for their first ever simulations! It is really rewarding to see a sense of pride and confidence be built in a room by those who are aspiring to improve (or would like additional practice) in patient interaction/counseling skills. Being able to give back in this way, was a lot of fun and sparked a huge interest in teaching for me.

What student organizations are you involved with? What is your role?

I am involved with California Society of Health-Systems Pharmacists (CSHP) as the Phun Run Chair for 2020 where I was able to creatively design (with the help of my committees) an annual 5k fundraiser whose purpose is to raise money for the student run free clinics and our underserved community so that patients in need can continue to receive medication, medical attention, and quality care. As the VP of membership for ECP, I was able to help grow the organization by promoting its mission and offer the OSCE prep sessions for P1 students. I am also part of the advisory group for Ethnic, Diversity, and Inclusion at UCSD, where I meet with the School of Medicine to further promote these core values to help pave an even greater institution for all students, faculty, and more. Being a minority, I have a strong sense of passion of opening the door for all people and providing a sense of unity, inclusion, and sense of comfort for all!

What is the best thing about living and working in San Diego?

There are so many things! The tacos, the sun kissed tan awaiting, just the general atmosphere. San Diego is diverse and has a lot of potential/open doors for students and all! Even though it is known to being a laid back city, we still get the job done! To keep it short, San Diego is beautiful.

Hole in the wall places, the ocean breeze, various scenic routes/opportunities to explore (like jet skiing after class), and salivating meals that provide that “freshman 15”  are what I live for.

What is the most memorable thing about your P1 year?

The most memorable thing about P1 year would have to be the Body Memorial Service for the donors that we were so fortunate to work with in our anatomy lab/course. It was so humbling to be granted this opportunity at Skaggs where we were able to see how and where pharmacology/therapeutics function in the human body in our very own eyes. To be able to share this aspect with other students allowed me to generate a greater sense of respect for the field of medicine. Another memorable P1 experience was poking our classmate’s feet to check for peripheral neuropathy. Suffice to say that we get really close here at Skaggs!

What are your career aspirations?

Generally, I would like to be the best pharmacist that I can be and if possible a pharmacist focused more on the clinical aspect more than anything. I have always been intrigued by the field of diabetes and metabolism, so that is a potential and exciting pathway for me. I am not sure what the future holds for me specifically but I aspire to give back to the community, through teaching. I feel that I learn the most and care a lot by breaking things down to others. Whether that is a patient needing counseling on their Atorvastatin, a family member who needs the best suited allergy medication, or a student who could use help in understanding a concept, I feel that I will always gravitate towards helping others gain a sense of clarity and hope.

Words of Wisdom to incoming students?

Honestly, if I were to go back, I would just live in the moment and not stress about the future so much. Do the best that you can in the moment that you have now in your hands and the future will unfold how it should. If you worry more about the future, you will lose sight of what is right in front of you and trust me, you only get that moment for a limited time. Be grateful and expect nothing and you will be happiest. Finally, I recommend that you stand up and be humble!

Binh-An Nguyen

Why did you choose UC San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy?

It’s no surprise that UCSD has an outstanding PharmD. program. With that said, I decided on UCSD because of two things: 1) Cost and 2) Location. Out of all the schools I applied for, UCSD was the best bang for my buck. Also, UCSD is the only pharmacy school in San Diego county. Because of that, there are many pharmacy internships and volunteer opportunities available almost exclusively to our students. This, in my opinion, gives us a greater chance to learn and apply what we learn in class as we help care for patients.

What has been your most rewarding experience at school so far?

Running the annual flu clinics at the Student-Run Free Clinic Project with some of my peers for two years has been my most rewarding experience. As P1s, we are taught how to administer vaccines within the first few weeks of school. Being able to use those skills to help keep hundreds of patients safe from succumbing to the flu each year was rewarding to say the least.

What student organizations are you involved with? What is your role?

I have been involved with two student organizations since P1 year: the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) and the Serotones. As a P1, I served as our APhA chapter’s Operation Immunization chair, where my duties consisted of educating the public about vaccinations and advocating for their efficacy and safety. The "flu clinic manager" role was also included with that title. As a P2, I am currently the chapter’s Membership Vice President, where my main duties include recruiting members and organizing the Mentor-Mentee Program with UCSD’s Pre-Pharmacy Society. Finally, I will be serving as the chapter’s Finance VP as a P3. 

As for Serotones, I have been performing music with some of my classmates at school events and local venues since joining the organization. Our most notable performance would have to be Love Made Audible, which is a charity concert the organization hosts each year to raise money for local charities such as the school’s Student-Run Free Clinic Project. As the organization’s current secretary, my role is to determine the logistics of this highly anticipated event as well as for our other events.

What is the best thing about living and working in San Diego?

I am from San Diego, so being close to home is a huge plus. Aside from that, having sunshine on a fairly regular basis is nice and something I’ve taken for granted as a native until recently.

What is the most memorable thing about your P1 year?

The End of the Year Banquet was probably my favorite event of P1 year. Lots of good food and fun times with everyone at UCSD Skaggs School of Pharmacy.

What are your career aspirations?

Right now, I’m considering becoming a consultant pharmacist. With our aging population in the United States, I anticipate a growing need for consultants to help elderly patients at skilled nursing and assisted living facilities manage their medications. Polypharmacy - patients being on many medications - is also prevalent in this field and any issues caused by this can be minimized with the help of pharmacists. Overall, it seems like a fairly clinical job where pharmacists apply a lot of their therapeutics knowledge to make a difference in their patient’s lives and can also learn new things about the patients and their medications in the process.

Words of Wisdom to incoming students?

Find your support group - whether it's classmates, friends from home, family, etc. Pharmacy school is tough, don’t go through it alone. Also try to have work/life balance or hold on to some of your hobbies. Pharmacy school is demanding, but don’t let it consume you.

Anthony Quach

Why did you choose UC San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy?

I chose UCSD mainly because of the small class size and the lower cost of tuition compared to other pharmacy schools. I was also very attracted to the many opportunities that Skaggs and the greater San Diego area has to offer for pharmacy students!

What has been your most rewarding experience at school so far?

One of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had so far was when I was volunteering at the UCSD Free Clinic. There I was able to counsel patients on their diabetes management and medications. With the help of a UCSD medical student, we were able to make a plan for the patient to better control her diabetes and other health concerns associated with it. There is nothing more rewarding in this profession than being able to help patients with their healthcare needs.

What student organizations are you involved with? What is your role?

This past year I was Student Ambassador for SSPPS and was able to present our pharmacy school to different college campuses as well as participate in interviews for future pharmacy students here at Skaggs. I was also the Rush Chair for the only pharmaceutical fraternity here on campus, Kappa Psi. Along with those, I am an active member in many other organizations at Skaggs including CSHP, CPNP, CPFI, and APhA. You can find out more about these orgs on our student organizations page!

What is the best thing about living and working in San Diego?

One of the best things about being a pharmacy student here in San Diego is that there are many opportunities to work as an intern in different pharmacy settings whether it be community, hospital, or industry! Living in San Diego is one of the best perks of going to pharmacy school here too. The weather is nice all year around, the beach is only a couple minutes away, and there are so many things to see and do in the area!

What was the most memorable thing about your P2 year?

The most memorable thing about my P2 year was building more friendships with not only my pharmacy school classmates but also with the UCSD medical students too! One of the unique things about UCSD is that pharmacy and medical students take classes together for a year. It was really fun learning and working with them!

What are your career aspirations?

I aim to pursue a career in oncology pharmacy in an acute care setting. My commitment to this career path has led me to research everything about oncology and prepare myself to be the best candidate I can be for acute care residency at UCSD Health. This includes volunteering at Moore’s Cancer Center once a week, taking the elective in oncology pharmacy taught by Dr. Saunders, undertaking a research project in oncology/infectious disease under Dr. Saunders and Dr. Patel, and shadowing Dr. Saunders at the Bone Marrow Transplant clinic in Moore’s Cancer Center weekly.

Words of Wisdom to incoming students?

Take advantage of the many opportunities that will come your way in pharmacy school! You have the chance to explore many different facets about pharmacy here so keep your mind open and you might just find something that you didn’t know you loved. Also, with the craziness of pharmacy school don’t forget to spend time relaxing and doing your hobbies! It is important to destress whenever life get busy, and it will for sure happen here at Skaggs.