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Wednesday, August 11, 2021

In Their Own Words: Mari

(Note: I loved having Mari on the Admissions Committee. She was so committed to making sure each applicant who she interviewed and reviewed got a fair shot in the process. Those that were lucky enough to meet her through the interview process found her to be caring and funny -- two qualities that really define her personality. Below she mentions "meaningful experiences" several times. Through the admissions process, she was always a champion of those candidates that brought these types of meaningful experiences to the table. Yay, Mari!)

Name: Mari
Hometown: Livermore, CA
Previous institutions attended: UC San Diego, Las Positas Community College
Undergraduate Major: Biochemistry & Cell Biology 

Why did you apply to be a member of the Admissions Committee and what have you enjoyed the most?
I’m interested in a career path in Academia, and understand that admissions play an integral role in the students that eventually attend the school. Plus, I’ve always been curious about the behind-the-scenes magic that goes on - especially since UCSF has the MMIs, which is certainly a non-traditional component of interviewing.

What surprised you most about UCSF’s admissions process?
When Joel says that the admission committee looks at the whole applicant, he really means it!

In your opinion, what are the most common mistakes applicants make?
I think many applicants are too busy trying to say the “right thing” rather than giving us answers with content that really tell us who you are as a person. We don’t want to hear the “buzzwords” that everyone gives us - we want to know about YOUR story and YOUR motivations.

What stands out to you on an application?
While this is also common advice for undergraduate applications, I feel that having 1-2 meaningful jobs/extracurriculars/experiences is much better than having a gazillion different activities. Another thing that makes an application stand out is when an applicant has 1-2 meaningful jobs/extracurriculars that they believe in. It’s easy to tell when a person is truly passionate about these experiences because it really comes out when they’re speaking or writing about it, and doing so will really make you stand out.

What impresses you about an application/applicant?
One thing that really impresses me are applicants who aren’t afraid to admit that they have a growth area or that they’ve failed, and have shown resilience despite these hurdles.

What are your pet peeve(s) when interviewing an applicant or reviewing a file? (What drives you crazy?)
It drives me crazy when people have generic responses for certain questions. For example, nearly early every pharmacy school will ask you some form of the question, “Why do you want to be a pharmacist?”.  If you answer, “Well, I want to help people.” I believe you may have sold yourself short. Physicians, teachers, firefighters, (and the list goes on and on) all help people, so why pharmacy? These questions are designed for you to shine, so be thoughtful about questions which may seem ‘basic’.

What characteristics are necessary in order to succeed in UCSF’s PharmD program?
I think students who are passionate, proactive, and flexible will do well at UCSF. I find that my classmates who really put their energy into work that they truly care about really get the most out of the UCSF experience. Everyone at UCSF wants to help you, but no one will hand you anything on a platter - be proactive and don’t be afraid to reach out for these experiences. Last but not least, every day is different, and the UCSF SOP is very open to change; if you’re not good at adapting or rolling with the punches, it may be a tough program.

What tools or resources would you recommend to prospective applicants?
One resource that I finds very underutilized is often people! The best way to learn about a program is by talking to people - current students, faculty, alumni. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to find out whether a program is really the best fit for you! Remember, while a school is interviewing you, you are also interviewing the school.

What single piece of advice would you give to a prospective applicant?
Be authentic & thoughtful - you should take your interview and written application as your time to shine!

Why do you think you were admitted into UCSF’s PharmD program?
To be honest, I’m still not so sure! My grades in undergrad were just ok. However, I am an older student, with some interesting life experiences, so I feel that I may have brought a unique perspective to the class.

What do you do for fun?
I am a self-proclaimed eatie,* so I love to go out with the hubby and try out new restaurants/foods, and watch food shows on Netflix (Chef’s Table & Samurai Gourmet, anyone?). There’s a lot to explore in San Francisco, so it’s always fun to walk around when Karl the Fog isn’t visiting. I also like to knit/cross stitch (and yes, I also have 3 cats).

*Per Urban dictionary: 
Eatie: An aficionado of the act of eating and a celebrant of tasty food. The food need not be gourmet, have specialized preparation, nor scientific combinations, but simply be satisfying.

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