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Monday, October 4, 2021

In Their Own Words: Winter

(Note: I remember reading Winter's opening line from one of her admissions essays: "At birth, uniqueness was thrust upon me. With a name like "Winter" in the arid desert of Arizona, how could I not stand out?"  I've always loved and appreciated bold opening statements. It just sets the reader up for a strong essay by a confident applicant. Winter joined the Admissions Committee during the pandemic -- so much of her work has been conducted remotely. Winter's confidence, and friendliness, was key in helping convey the UCSF culture through remote interviews. As an out-of-state student, Winter brings a unique -- and much welcomed -- perspective to our admissions process.)

Name: Winter
Hometown: Queen Creek, Arizona
Previous institutions attended: Arizona State University
Undergraduate Major: Biochemistry and Psychology

Why did you apply to be a member of the Admissions Committee and what have you enjoyed the most?
Being a member of the Admissions Committee was an interest of mine ever since I went through the admissions process. One of my career interests is academia and a huge portion of higher education is admitting new students. I was interested in the entire process of admissions and even volunteered to give tours and host Interview Day Student Chat Rooms during my first year. Since becoming a member of the Admissions Committee, I have enjoyed working with other members of the committee and interviewing prospective students. This experience has given me a new perspective on the variety of students pursuing pharmacy as a career.

What surprised you most about UCSF’s admissions process?
The amount of time, and care, members of the Admissions Committee give to each applicant surprised me (in a good way!) UCSF truly values each applicant, and reviews them holistically and completely.

In your opinion, what are the most common mistakes applicants make?
I think applicants can try to be someone that they’re not. Applicants may have met different UCSF students at various pre-pharmacy events and perceive a specific student as the "UCSF model". There is no perfect pharmacy student and there is no perfect UCSF pharmacy student.

What stands out to you on an application?
To me, strong personal essays stand out on an application. When I can feel the emotion in these essays, an application builds in dimensionality. I no longer feel like I’m reading an application, but meeting a person.

What impresses you about an application/applicant?
I am impressed when I see growth on an application. Applicants that are willing to own up to mistakes they may have made during their undergraduate career, or in their personal lives, and discuss the steps they have taken to grow from this experience shows maturity.

What are your pet peeve(s) when interviewing an applicant or reviewing a file? (What drives you crazy?)
It drives me crazy when I feel like applicants haven’t fully prepared their application before submission -- or prepped for their interview. I don’t believe that there should be grammar and spelling mistakes in applicant’s personal essays -- there is plenty of time to prepare an application! Applicants should put their best foot forward by having many eyes on their essays before submission so these mistakes are caught. In interviews, applicants should know why they want to be a pharmacist or why they want to attend UCSF, in particular. If applicants are caught off-guard by questions like these, it makes me think they probably aren’t that passionate about being a pharmacist or attending this program.

What characteristics are necessary in order to succeed in UCSF’s PharmD program?

Some characteristics necessary to succeed in UCSF’s PharmD program are: curiosity, passion for the field, resiliency, and empathy. UCSF’s PharmD curriculum can be very challenging, at times, but with passion for pharmacy and resiliency, you can succeed in the curriculum.

What tools or resources would you recommend to prospective applicants?
For one, I used Joel’s blog (and if you’re reading this, you are too!) to get background on UCSF and the admissions process as I was applying. I also used the UCSF website and other pharmacy students at different institutions who interviewed at various pharmacy schools to get a strong background on the process before I submitted my application and attended interviews. These are all great resources! I would also suggest using your mentors at your undergraduate institution or your current workplace to review your application materials and practice interview questions. If you are in a pre-pharmacy club with an advisor or work with a pharmacist, those individuals have gone through an interview and admissions process before, so they are fantastic resources in making sure you put your best foot forward during the application process.

What single piece of advice would you give to a prospective applicant?
Be yourself. UCSF is not looking for pharmacy robots that know how to answer questions with generic responses. We want to get to know you!

What do you do for fun?
Since I’m still new to the Bay Area, I am still exploring. I find fantastic new restaurants, coffee shops, and hiking trails every week! I have a dog so my ideal free day is a morning coffee (+ a puppachino for my pup!) and hike. In the evenings, I like to unwind by streaming TV shows or movies -- my favorites are thrillers!

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