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Meet Our Students

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.

Class of 2018:

Class of 2017

Class of 2016


Josephine Vo, Class of 2018

Josephine Vo
Photo courtesy of Adrienne Gomez

Josie is from Irvine, CA and graduated from the University of California, Irvine. In her free time she likes to jog, watch Netflix, and cook/eat out with friends. Josie likes to listen to Korean pop music and whatever is on the radio. Her favorite television show is Sherlock Holmes, and her favorite movie is She’s the Man. When asked if she could travel anywhere, where she would go, Josie said “I hope to visit all the countries in Southeast Asia. My cousin was able to travel that part of Asia throughout the two years she was there for work and told me there is a lot to see and do. I have already traveled to Europe and East Asia, and so I hope to get out of my comfort zone by traveling to relatively less westernized Asian countries.”

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

I chose UCSD Skaggs School of Pharmacy primarily because of their emphasis in the research and clinical fields of pharmacy. UCSD also provided their students with many different opportunities in all fields of pharmacy. Although the school is relatively new, there are already so many established connections, organizations, and an advanced curriculum. From the upperclassmen, I heard of the amazing faculty and after this first year of pharmacy school, I can definitely agree. My classmates and I were able to establish a personal connection with the faculty due to the small class size and we can all clearly see the faculty’s desire to teach and help.

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

The most rewarding experience at school so far for me was taking the anatomy course at Skaggs. It is humbling to know the sacrifice that the body donors had made for us and our education. Skaggs has given us this amazing opportunity and the knowledge I have gained from it will be carried on throughout my whole career as a pharmacist.

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

For my first year of pharmacy school, I was a part of the Association of Student Pharmacist (ASP) as the Graduate Student Association (GSA) Representative for our school. This coming year, I will still be involved in ASP as President-elect. As President-elect, I shadow and assist this year’s ASP president in being the bridge between students and faculty, overseeing all organizations and their activities, and planning annual school wide events. I am also a part of American Pharmacist Association (APhA) as Operation Self-Care. With this position, I was given the opportunity to create and organize outreaches to afterschool programs to teach elementary school students about the importance and use of first aid and a healthy lifestyle. These experiences have helped me to become more of a leader, more organized, and more proactive.

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

The best thing about living and working in San Diego are the scenic routes I can take when I want to jog outside. Just 15 minutes away from campus is the La Jolla shores where I have enjoyed the beautiful sunset a countless number of times with my classmates. Running outside in San Diego is made even better by the amazing weather and refreshing air that we are lucky to have year-round.

What is the most memorable thing about your P1 year?

The most memorable thing about P1 year is our quarterly potluck. As part of the P1 class board, I had the privilege of working with other P1s in planning our class socials. Seeing everyone and interacting with everyone altogether is always fun.

What are your career aspirations?

I hope to enter the academia/research field of pharmacy in the future. I have always enjoyed learning conceptually and I hope to incorporate that into my work. Throughout high school and undergrad, I worked as a tutor and I found that the best way to study for classes was by teaching others and learning directly from my peers as well. In academia/research, I would continually learn from others while also being able to teach. Also, I am a busybody and love to have variability in my life and, from what I have seen and heard, life in academia could give me just that.

Words of Wisdom to incoming students?

Make sure to allocate a lot of time to bonding with your classmates, exploring SD, and partaking in extracurricular activities. Study efficiently and effectively and you will have plenty of time for fun. Also, it is really important to retain what you learn from classes for your future career and patients and the best way to do so is keeping up with the material rather than cramming. So make sure to get rid of your senioritis and you will have a great time your first year of pharmacy school.

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Theodore Nguyen, Class of 2018

Theodore Nguyen
Photo courtesy of Kevin Gan

Theodore calls Santa Ana, CA home and is a graduate from the University of California, Los Angeles. When asked how he spends his free time, Theodore said, “When I have free time, I like to spend it cooking my favorite dishes or trying new recipes. If I am not cooking, I will probably be weight lifting at the gym.” His favorite movie is Amélie and his favorite television show is Breaking Bad. If he won the lottery Theodore would travel the world and see every country! He says the one thing he cannot live without is food. “It’s sustenance and something to enjoy while being full of cultures and stories.”

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

My choice rooted from many reasons: 1) Smaller class size 2) Integrated curriculum with the medical students to emphasize collaborative work 3) Lower tuition fees 4) More opportunities because it is the only pharmacy school in San Diego 5) Location – the weather is great and it is not in the middle of nowhere.

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

One of my most rewarding experiences at school would be working at the student-run free clinic. Working with other students and professionals to provide quality care was a very eye-opening experience for me. It put into perspective that everything that I’ve learned was useful and practical.

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

Last year, I was the Class VP of Finance and got to be very involved with my classmates. I was in charge of organizing fundraisers and managing the class funds for events. Currently, I am the Class President and am in charge of representing my class and ensuring that everything runs smoothly with classes and events that come up.

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

One of the perks of living and working in San Diego is the fact that if there is something in particular that interests you, it will be somewhere in San Diego. Our students are very diverse in their hobbies and they all find places to enjoy their free time with activities ranging from trying different cuisines, rock climbing, surfing,.

What is the most memorable thing about your P1 year?

My most memorable moment in P1 year was the white coat ceremony; it really signified that a new chapter in my life was beginning.

What are your career aspirations?

There are so many different career paths to take; it’s hard to say. As of right now, I think I would like to pursue ambulatory care. I would like to use my knowledge to make important clinical decisions while having direct interactions with patients.

Words of Wisdom to incoming students?

My advice to anyone who aspires to be a great healthcare provider is to learn how to listen. Having been on both sides of healthcare, as a provider and a patient, you can never assume you already know what’s happening. Simply put, people are complex. You cannot simply listen to the words your patients tell you, but you must also listen the intent behind their words. Try to hear if there are other things they need but are too scared to ask. In class, don’t just complain. Listen to what your professors are trying to teach you. When working with colleagues, if there is any sense of doubt, just ask. Ask for clarification or ask if they understand what you meant to prevent mistakes. This is how you become a great healthcare provider.

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Celeste Sage, Class of 2017

Celeste Sage
Photo courtesy of Adrienne Gomez

Celeste calls Los Angeles and Simi Valley her hometowns. She is a graduate from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Celeste enjoys listening to artists that take time to tell a story with their music. Her favorites are John Major and Jason Mraz. She loves doing yoga and going for evening walks. On a nice day you can find her at the beach out with her kayak for some sun and exercise. If she won the lottery she would travel to her list of destinations, buy a beautiful home – or two, and maybe start up a few businesses of her own. Celeste says, “I always thought it would be fun to own a restaurant or bar. I would still work as a pharmacist, but maybe just part-time! “

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

UC San Diego was always my number one choice because I really wanted to stay in the UC system. I love the focus on research and collaboration with the medical school. My brother also lived in San Diego and always told me about how much he loved the area!

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

I love participating in all of the outreaches in the community. We do so many events with children and teens teaching them everything from healthy eating to the dangers of prescription drug abuse. I had the opportunity to create a presentation about sexual health for a local high school which I found very rewarding. The students were very engaged and I could tell they learned a lot about their options for staying safe.

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

I joined CSHP my first year of pharmacy school and have been part of it ever since. I served on the board last year as the Community Affairs Co-Chair and this coming year I will be the Fundraising Chair, meaning I will be planning some important events. Culture Fusion is CSHP’s biggest annual event and maybe our students’ and faculty’s favorite!

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

San Diego has great beaches and weather of course, but I also like all the restaurant variety. Microbreweries and street tacos are abundant. You can also find a farmers market almost any day of the week and the swap meets are open every weekend!

What is the most memorable thing about your P1 year?

I remember my first shift at the free clinic. It was a really exciting experience because for many of us it’s the first time you feel like a healthcare provider. I was really nervous trying to take a patient’s blood pressure for the first time, but the medical students were very supportive.

What are your career aspirations?

It is so hard to say at this point, but I can say I am interested in learning more about ambulatory care or transition of care pharmacy. I do hope that someday, after many years of pharmacy experience, that I find an opportunity to teach. I have always liked the idea of being a professor.

Words of Wisdom to incoming students?

If you are really passionate about any aspect of healthcare don’t be afraid to pursue it. If you want to create new outreaches, promote awareness, start a new organization, it can definitely be done. That is the great thing about a newer smaller school; there are plenty of opportunities for everyone.

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Johnny Zhou, Class of 2017

Johnny Zhou
Photo courtesy of Adrienne Gomez

Johnny hails from Rowland Heights, CA and graduated from the University of California, Riverside. He spends most of his free time playing instruments, cooking, going to the gym and watching movies. Johnny is very invested in Game of Thrones. He watches it every Sunday and has intense speculation about the show with fellow classmates the following day. When asked if he could travel anywhere, where he would go, he said, “If I could travel anywhere, I would go into outer space to visit the different nation’s satellites and leave my footprint on the moon. With how well the world is connected nowadays, it isn’t difficult to travel anywhere around the world. But, outer space is another beast itself.”

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

What got me interested in Skaggs were the small class size and the resources that were available in San Diego. The Inter-professional curriculum here creates an environment that fosters teamwork between healthcare professionals

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

My experience being a medical volunteer with American Lung Association’s SCAMP camp allowed me to use the knowledge I learned in the classroom to not only monitor the camper’s asthmatic medication, but also educating them about the condition and complications. I was able to work with other healthcare professionals to provide the proper care and guidance for those kids.

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

I am an active member of APhA/CPhA, CSHP, ASP and Kappa Psi Pharmaceutical Fraternity. Currently, I am the VP of Communication for APhA/CPhA and the VP of Communications for ASP. Last year, I served as the ASP VP of Finance.

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

San Diego has by far the best weather in California. I often think that all the positivity eventually influences one’s personality and work ethics.

What is the most memorable thing about your P1 year?

Being the new kid on campus, seeing everything for the first time is a challenge and also an opportunity to better oneself. Anatomy lab was very memorable for me during P1 year. Seeing a cadaver for the first time was a difficult for me to handle, yet humbling.

What are your career aspirations?

Pharmacy is such a diverse profession that is constantly evolving. There is still a lot for me to explore in the pharmacy profession. Whether it’s practicing in the community or clinically, I aspire to be a pharmacist that not only the patients could count, but also other healthcare professionals.

Words of Wisdom to incoming students?

A lot of the things that I learned about the Pharmacy profession took place outside the classrooms. I recommend getting involved in student organizations and talk to pharmacists from difference avenues of the profession.

If you’ve started your research project talk a little bit about it. How’s the process going so far?

My research project is at its final stages. Being a part of the UCSD CAPSLEAD team, we collectively worked on a research project that involved surveying pharmacist to assess their perspective on the issue of polypharmacy. We started the project the second half of our P1 year and continued throughout our P2 year. We presented our findings in CSHP seminar 2014 in San Francisco, APhA Annual conference 2015 in San Diego and CPhA West Coast Exchange in Anaheim.

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Lauren Aragon, Class of 2016

Lauren Aragon
Photo courtesy of Adrienne Gomez

Lauren is from Chino Hills, CA and graduated from the University of Arizona. In her free time she enjoys watching movies, going to music concerts, shopping, running, swimming, going to the beach, and sleeping. Her favorite music is Rock and her favorite movie is 500 Days of Summer. When asked what’s the one thing you cannot live without she stated “GPS navigation, I have a terrible sense of direction and get lost easily.” If she won the lottery she would pay off her school loans, pay her mom's home loan, buy a house, buy a car for everyone in my family, adopt a puppy (or two), travel the world, invest in the stock market and donate to UCSD free clinics/other non-profit organizations.

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

The school's wonderful reputation, small class sizes, friendly and supportive staff/faculty, location relatively close to home and San Diego is the best place to live in the country.

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

It has been serving as Regent of UCSD's chapter of Kappa Psi Pharmaceutical Fraternity Inc. I was able to develop as a leader and make connections with some of the most amazing pharmacists and students from all over the country. It was stressful at times, but I learned so much about myself, how to work and communicate with my peers, and the importance of supporting one another.

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

I've been a member of UCSD's chapters of APhA, CSHP, ASCP and Kappa Psi all 4 years I've been in school. I served as VP of community outreach for ASCP my P2 year and Regent for Kappa Psi my P3 year. I was also Social Chair for my class P3 year. Being a member of these organizations is a great way to get involved and network with pharmacists

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

The sunny weather is the best part about living in San Diego. The beaches are clean and gorgeous. The city has a more laid back feel, but there are so many things to do in your free time (the zoo, the beach, hiking trails, Padres games, Charger games, and nightlife). There's also a ton of great food spots, so if you're a foodie, you'll love SD. I also like that you rarely ever have to pay for parking (unless you're on campus) and the rush hour traffic is not nearly as bad as LA traffic.

What is the most memorable thing about your P1 year?

Attending national pharmacy conferences such as APhA Annual was memorable. It was eye-opening to see just how huge the world of pharmacy is and the impact that we as student's can make both within our communities and on a larger scale in areas such as promoting legislation. It was also a great bonding experience with my classmates and conferences are always a good excuse to travel.

What are your career aspirations?

Ideally, I would like to work in an ambulatory care setting as I feel that it is a good mix of patient interaction/teaching and use of clinical knowledge. I enjoy the ability to follow a patient's progress and see the positive impact I, as a pharmacist; can have on patient outcomes and quality of life. I currently work for Kaiser Permanente in the outpatient pharmacy, so I would gladly continue working for their organization.

Words of Wisdom to incoming students?

1) I feel that it is important to find a good balance of work and play. You're entering pharmacy school to learn the curriculum, but you should still enjoy your time here. Find activities you like to do and use that to de-stress. 2) Get involved! You don't have to join every org if you don't want to, but find something you're interested in and go with it. Run for exec board positions you want or apply for your dream job, even if you don't think you'll get it (you'll never know if you don't try). The more health outreaches you do early on, the less community IPPE hours you'll need when school gets more time consuming. 3) Be Professional. This is a professional school, but sometimes it can be easy to forget that in the classroom setting. Be accountable for your actions and remember that your classmates and professors may one day be the pharmacist evaluating you for a job.

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Andrew Valine, Class of 2016


Photo courtesy of Adrienne Gomez

Andrew calls Sacramento, CA home. He graduated from the University of California, Davis. Andrew likes different rock genres, everything from: classic rock, to The Beatles, to alternative rock. He enjoys fishing, playing sports, and watching television shows, specifically House of Cards, Game of Thrones, and Breaking Bad, in his free time. When asked if he could travel anywhere, where would he go, he said ”I really want to see Australia. I love wildlife, and it would be amazing to see everything that’s down-under.” And lastly if he won the lottery he would start a non-profit organization dealing with mental illness.

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

I really enjoyed the interview process; the faculty was very friendly and welcoming. Also, it’s hard to beat the beauty of San Diego.

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

My most rewarding experience would probably be a combination of poster sessions. It’s really great to have just learned a topic and be able to give an actual person advice about it.

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

I was President of CPNP, College of Psychiatric and Neurological Pharmacist, student chapter here at UCSD. I highly encourage anyone interested in the mental health field to join! Another great organization is Kappa Psi. It’s a nice change of pace and a great way to make friends in different classes.

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

For me it has to be the Ocean. Being from a non-coastal place, the Ocean is full of cool things to try. A few for me include surfing, snorkeling, fishing, and scuba diving.

What is the most memorable thing about your P1 year?

Most memorable for me was probably the white coat ceremony. You don’t really know a lot of your classmates yet, but it’s cooling seeing everyone go onto the stage being cheered on by their friends and family.

What are your career aspirations?

Right now I want to do Psychiatric Pharmacy.

Words of Wisdom to incoming students?

Do things at your own pace and in a way that works best for you. Being in such a small class can make this difficult, but you made it this far. We all have our own strengths and weaknesses.

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