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Thursday, February 11, 2016

In Their Own Words: Jennifer

(Note: When Jennifer applied and interviewed to be on the admissions committee, we asked her to describe herself. Her answer: "I'm shy but hardworking."  Indeed, she is on the quieter side, but she's laser-focused in her approach to work and involvement on the Admissions Committee. We can always count on her to tackle admissions responsibilities with thoughtfulness, thoroughness, and of course, a level of seriousness that reflects how important she considers her role.)  

Name:  Jennifer
Year:  Class of 2016
Hometown:  Huntington Beach, CA
Previous institution attended:  UC Berkeley (Go Bears!)
Undergraduate Major:  Molecular and Cell Biology – Neurobiology

Why did you apply to be a member of the Admissions Committee and what have you enjoyed the most?
I wanted to be a member of the Admissions Committee because it was an opportunity for me to positively impact UCSF, and thus the future landscape of pharmacy. Also, your fellow classmates can truly define your experience in pharmacy school, especially because they tend to be your main support system during times of high stress; I really wanted to have input on who I thought would be a great fit because these are the people who I will have to rely on as MY future colleagues.

I’ve really enjoyed meeting applicants and seeing how different everyone is in terms of personality, interview style, and life experience. I’m excited for the incoming class!

What surprised you most about UCSF’s admissions process?
I was surprised by how involved with the process the students actually are and how much my opinions matter! I was also glad to discover that everything Joel has stated in his blog and at info sessions is true; we don’t say one thing and then do something different behind the scenes. For example, we really do look at applicants holistically and your soft skills are just as important as your grades.

In your opinion, what are the most common mistakes applicants make?
A lot of applicants think that they’ll be more competitive if they can get a letter of recommendation from a well-known individual; however, if that person can’t give specific examples for why you’ll be a great pharmacist, his/her letter doesn’t add much value to your application. Ask for letters from people who know you well and can speak in detail about your skill sets and strengths.

I’ve also seen a decent number of grammatical errors in essays -- so please make sure that you ask a handful of people to proofread your work. This means planning ahead and having your application ready for people to read weeks before the deadline.

For re-applicants, make sure that you’ve shown growth from previous years. We want to know what you’ve been doing differently!

What stands out to you on an application?
I like to see dedication, resilience, and creativity. It’s okay if you weren’t the president of five different campus organizations, but we do notice when you’ve invested time in activities outside of school and that you’re passionate about what you do.

What are your pet peeve(s) when interviewing an applicant or reviewing a file? (What drives you crazy?)
A weak handshake is my number one pet peeve because it makes it seem as though you don’t want to be there (but if you’re sick, it’s okay to let your interviewer know and skip the handshake entirely!) Keep in mind that a firm handshake shows confidence and can set the tone for the rest of your interview.

My other pet peeve is when a candidate rambles instead of answering a question directly. If you didn’t hear or understand a question properly, you can always ask for clarification.

What characteristics are necessary in order to succeed in UCSF’s PharmD program?
Be adaptable, hardworking, innovative, and personable.

Once you’re here, I can’t stress enough how important it is that you know your own capabilities and limitations. Don’t overexert yourself. If you ever need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it. Everyone wants you to succeed and there are plenty of resources to help you meet your goals.

What tools or resources would you recommend to prospective applicants?
Network and talk to as many people as you can about the field of pharmacy and about the programs that you're interested in; volunteer/work in a pharmacy-related setting if you can before applying. Pharmacy experience is definitely NOT required to be admitted to the program; however, you should be 100% sure that this is an appropriate career/lifestyle choice for you before you start your applications. Pharmacy school (and the application process) takes a LOT of time and money, so be sure that this is something you are ready to commit to (and make sure you let us know about all of this in your application!)

What single piece of advice would you give to a prospective applicant?
Take the time to truly learn why you’re a good fit for a program and why a program is a good fit for you. As I mentioned previously, pharmacy school is a big investment in terms of time and money, so be confident that this is what you want to do for the next 4 years.

Why do you think you were admitted into UCSF’s PharmD program?
I still ask myself this question every day and unfortunately I will never know the real answer. I may have been admitted because I was able to show that I understood the value of pharmacists from multiple perspectives and I saw the opportunity for pharmacists to be in significantly expanded roles in the future. Maybe my application was slightly unconventional. Or maybe they just really liked my 'human condition' essay?

What do you do for fun?
I’ve really been into escape rooms recently. Basically, they lock you and your friends in a room and you have one hour to find clues and solve puzzles to obtain the key to escape. Also, Cal football — I’ve had season tickets all four years of pharmacy school (you'll hear that it’s all about balance).

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

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