Hometown: San Jose, CA
Undergraduate Major: Biochemistry
I come from a nontraditional background compared to the majority of my classmates since I completed a master's degree before starting at UCSF. Those additional few years allowed me the time I needed to figure out what exactly in Pharmacy I wanted to do. I wanted to serve on the Admissions committee so that other nontraditional applications can get the same opportunity I have by coming here.
In your opinion, what are the most common mistakes applicants make?
Thinking that they need to be anyone but themselves. I've always viewed graduate school like a relationship -- the application process being the initial "getting to know you" phase; orientation is like the first official day that you are together; the 3 years of didactic coursework representing the years spent building a strong foundation; the year of rotation is a bit like an engagement and then graduation and residency being like a marriage. If you are willing to put in all this work to end up in a lifelong relationship, then it is best to just be yourself so you know that this is the right fit for you.
What stands out to you on an application?
For me, it's the composition of the entire application. Everything matters and has equal weight. It's important for me to know that, while you can succeed at UCSF academically, you can also find a balance, enjoy your time here, and contribute something to the UCSF community.
What are your pet peeve(s) when interviewing an applicant or reviewing a file? (What drives you crazy?)
Using a filler word like "um". It's best to either take a breath or pause while you think of the right response as opposed to filling that word in. Also, presenting yourself appropriately. There have been very qualified candidates who have either dressed too casually or dressed well but not bothered to clear their hair away from their face so that interviewers can make eye contact with them. Lastly, when an applicant has chosen to apply here because of the ranking.
What characteristics are necessary in order to succeed in UCSF’s PharmD program?
Patience, perseverance, flexibility, an ability to grow, being comfortable with the uncomfortable, and being capable of finding balance in your life with activities outside of the program.
What type of student makes the best fit?
Someone willing to learn, who doesn't come in with a completely locked in idea of what they want to do without at least giving all the opportunities that the program has to offer a chance. Regardless of how old you are in the real world, when you enter the pharmacy world, every applicant is a newborn and has the most chances presented to them. If you are completely closed off to all new innovations and career choices, you might regret not trying things out before deciding it's not the best fit for you.
What tools or resources would you recommend to prospective applicants?
I found a great list of potential interview questions on several online blogs. It's also important to research the school you are applying to in order to answer that ever important question -- Why here? What do we have that interests you as an applicant? Also, using an online recommendation letter holder (with a small subscription fee) was one of the best things I did.
What single piece of advice would you give to a prospective applicant?
Again, BE YOURSELF. You are awesome and if you are any version other than yourself, admissions committees will see through it. The worst feeling is pretending to be what you think the program wants you to be and realizing too late that you would have been happier being the true you.
Why do you think you were admitted into UCSF’s PharmD program?
I believe our program is unique in that grades and extracurricular activities are not the sole factors in an excellent applicant. After 3 years here, I can safely say that I learn as much from my colleagues and fellow students as I do from my professors, and it is their life experiences that make our program what it is. I believe that my time spent in doing my MPH in Epidemiology in the Midwest allowed me to work in a completely different setting and population than I had been accustomed to in undergrad and helped me realize my niche. I think the committee saw that I would be able to bring a public health perspective into our program which is something different and unique, much like our program.
What do you do for fun?
I love working out to get some time away from the stress of school and to practice what we preach as healthcare professionals. I am an avid fan of food and love to cook and experiment, while also expressing my foodie love by trying a new restaurant in San Francisco every week. I have also recently been bit by the travel bug and, inspired by my fellow classmate's amazing travels, have started a Wanderlust List of places to visit.
(To read all previous "In Their Own Words" profiles, click the "committee profiles" label link below!)