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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

In Their Own Words: Daniel

(Note: Daniel wrote in his own admissions application: "If there is one quality about myself that I take pride in, it is my industriousness."  I couldn't agree more. He's a workhorse -- constantly willing to do what it takes to get the job done. In many ways, Daniel embodies the idea of "work-life balance" as a student. He plays hard and works even harder. In that respect, his insight and contributions as a member of the Admissions Committee have been incredibly generous and welcomed.)

Name: Daniel
Year: Class of 2016
Hometown: Santa Barbara, CA
Previous institutions attended: UC Berkeley
Undergraduate Major: Molecular and Cell Biology

Why did you apply to be a member of the Admissions Committee and what have you enjoyed the most?
Like most prospective students, I was extremely curious as to how the whole admissions process worked -- behind the scenes. Applying to be on the committee had always been an interest of mine ever since starting pharmacy school, and my resolve only strengthened over time. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at UCSF and I looked forward to not only giving back to the school but also to helping select the next generation of UCSF student pharmacists. What I have enjoyed most about being on the Admissions Committee is learning about why each applicant chose to pursue pharmacy. There are as many reasons for choosing pharmacy as there are applicants, and I have been interested in what drives and motivates each applicant.

What surprised you most about UCSF’s admissions process?
I was slightly surprised by how much influence the students on the admissions committee had with selecting which applicants to admit. I heard from previous committee members that this was the case, but was nonetheless pleasantly surprised to see how much value the faculty placed in the students’ opinions.

In your opinion, what are the most common mistakes applicants make?
Not getting somebody to proofread their supplemental essays. It’s frustrating to read an otherwise impressive essay that is full of spelling and grammatical errors. Having a reviewer who will give you an honest opinion is important because not only can they catch any errors that you may have missed, but they can also bring in a perspective other than your own, and let you know the strengths and weaknesses of your essays.

What stands out to you on an application?
Well rounded applications stand out to me. A solid application includes all of the following: strong letters of recommendation written by individuals who know the applicant well, thoughtful essays that clearly answer the prompts, and a demonstrated passion for the profession (which is often evidenced by work and/or volunteer experience.) It’s easy to see when an applicant has done a thorough job putting together an application (and, on the flip side, it’s easy to see when an applicant hasn’t done this.)

What are your pet peeve(s) when interviewing an applicant or reviewing a file? (What drives you crazy?)
Applicants who give clichéd/unoriginal answers. As committee members, we interview/review several applicants, and I often hear/read the same clichéd answers over and over again.

What characteristics are necessary in order to succeed in UCSF’s PharmD program?
There are several, but I’ll highlight a few:
  • Industriousness: Pharmacy school is doable, but it requires a lot of work.
  • Dedication: Pharmacy school is a long road, so it’s important that you be invested in the program to help avoid burn-out.
  • Teamwork: Many projects are done in collaboration with your classmates. Classmates are also an excellent resource; we are all going through the same program, so we help each other out all the time.
What tools or resources would you recommend to prospective applicants?
Well you’re reading Joel’s blog, so I’ll assume that you’re already using that as a resource. I would also recommend talking to as many people as you can (from pharmacists, to professors, to students) to better learn what to expect from school and to make sure that the profession is right for you. (See below.) The UCSF website is also a great resource.

What single piece of advice would you give to a prospective applicant?
Make sure that pharmacy is the right profession for you before applying. Pharmacy school is a huge monetary and time commitment, and you don’t want to begin school only to find out after that you don’t want to be there. In addition, if you’ve done your research and know exactly why you want to attend pharmacy school, you will be able to convey this both with your written application and during interviews. It’s always a red flag when I read through an application and then have to ask myself, “Why is this person even applying to pharmacy school in the first place?” That question should be clearly answered throughout the application.

Why do you think you were admitted into UCSF’s PharmD program?
I believe that I was able to communicate through my written application and interview why I wanted to attend pharmacy school and, specifically, UCSF. I backed up this desire with an application that I spent a lot of time and effort trying to make well-rounded.

I was also a re-applicant to the program, which I think demonstrated perseverance. My first application was, shall we say, not so good, so I took great care to shore up its weak points upon reapplying. For example, I actually had someone proofread my essays the second time around. (See above.) I spent the year between college and pharmacy school working as a pharmacy technician, which helped me gain pharmacy experience and only strengthened my application.

What do you do for fun?
I enjoy doing anything sports-related from wrestling to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to playing on an intramural basketball team with my classmates (go TC1s!) I also enjoy exploring the city (oftentimes on foot, as I recently completed the San Francisco Nike Women’s Marathon.) To replenish some of the calories burned from working out, I’ve also taken up dessert making. I just bought an ice cream maker, and have been experimenting with finding the perfect flavor.

(To read all previous "In Their Own Words" profiles, click the "committee profiles" label link below!)

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