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Thursday, July 6, 2023

In Their Own Words: Philip

(Note: I remembering meeting and interacting with Philip while he was an undergraduate student leader at UCR. Honestly, I was kind of intimidated by him because he was a little intense and always highly organized. I knew I had to be very prepared when interacting with him. Ha! See, it's not always students intimidated by Admissions reps -- it works both ways! I got to know Philip as a UCSF student and then, of course, as a member of our admissions committee. I always appreciated his enthusiasm, attention to detail, and focus as a committee member. We've had many conversations about admissions, life, and the future -- and I'm glad that he's continuing his training at UCSF beyond the PharmD program. P.S. I'm not intimidated by him anymore. 😃)

Hometown: Chino Hills, CA
Previous institution attended: University of California, Riverside
Undergraduate Major: Biology

Why did you apply to be a member of the Admissions Committee and what have you enjoyed the most?
To be completely honest, one of the main reasons I applied to be a member of the Admissions Committee was out of my own curiosity. My involvement in my undergraduate pre-pharmacy organization had sparked my interest, and I wanted to confirm if everything I had heard about the admissions process was true. As it turns out, it was actually true, which ultimately validated the transparency of UCSF in its admissions procedures.

Being a part of the admissions committee has also provided me with a wonderful opportunity to give back to the pharmacy community, fulfilling my desire to make a lasting impact on the future of the pharmacy profession. Overall, I have thoroughly enjoyed the chance to demystify the admissions process for myself. It has not only helped me overcome any imposter syndrome I may have had but has also significantly improved my ability to mentor other pre-pharmacy students.

What surprised you most about UCSF’s admissions process?
One aspect of UCSF's admissions process that surprised me the most was the level of thoroughness in the review process. It became evident that every applicant receives a comprehensive evaluation, and no detail on the application goes unnoticed. This meticulous approach to reviewing applicants was truly remarkable to witness.

On a related note, I had always held the belief that UCSF was one of the few schools that genuinely embraced a holistic approach to reviewing applicants. To my delight, this belief was confirmed through my experience on the admissions committee. It was clear that UCSF places great value on considering each applicant as a whole person, taking into account various aspects -- beyond just academics.

The combination of the rigorous evaluation process and the holistic approach made the admissions process at UCSF even more impressive, and reaffirmed my confidence in the transparency and fairness of their procedures.

In your opinion, what are the most common mistakes applicants make?
From my perspective, one of the most prevalent mistakes made by applicants is attempting to write what they believe the reviewers want to hear, rather than seizing the opportunity to genuinely showcase their true selves. As someone who paid significant attention to the personal statement and essay sections of the application, I can emphasize the importance of authenticity.

As a reviewer, my primary interest lies in understanding what sets each applicant apart, their unique qualities, and their genuine passions. I am eager to delve into their personal journey and witness a profound sense of self-reflection. The personal statement serves as an exceptional platform for applicants to explore themselves, and I value individuals who can engage in deep introspection and convey their true essence.

Therefore, one of the most common errors is when applicants deviate from their genuine selves in an attempt to cater to perceived expectations. It is vital for applicants to embrace the opportunity to present an authentic portrayal of who they are as individuals. By doing so, they can truly capture the attention of the reviewers and leave a lasting impression.

What stands out to you on an application?
Personally, what stands out to me on an application is when I come across candidates who have pursued entirely different careers or majors. While there's nothing wrong with following the direct pharmacy path (which is what I did), I find it incredibly intriguing and admirable when individuals decide to make a switch. I'm genuinely interested in understanding their reasons behind this transition and how it can bring diverse perspectives to UCSF, ultimately enriching our community. It takes bravery to embark on a different path, and I believe that such applicants contribute to making UCSF even stronger.

What are your pet peeve(s) when interviewing an applicant or reviewing a file? (What drives you crazy?)
One aspect that can be slightly bothersome during interviews or file reviews is when applicants tend to extend their responses for too long. While I truly appreciate thoughtful and detailed answers, it can sometimes lead to a loss of focus if the responses become excessively lengthy. Considering the limited time we have to cover all the questions, it would be helpful for applicants to be conscious of time constraints.

By keeping your responses concise, we can ensure a smooth and efficient interview process. This allows us to thoroughly address all the necessary aspects while still leaving ample time for you to ask any questions you may have at the end. It's essential to strike a balance between expressing yourself fully and being mindful of time, as it enhances the overall interview experience for both the interviewer and the applicant.

What characteristics are necessary in order to succeed in UCSF’s PharmD program?
Resilience. You will often hear this word during pharmacy school, and it holds true. No matter how strong of a student you are, pharmacy school will have its downsides, whether academically, socially, or otherwise. It is a transformative journey, and you’ve got to be prepared to embrace the ups and downs. View the challenging moments as opportunities for personal growth and cherish the high points while they last. Remain present and avoid getting trapped in negative thoughts and setbacks. Remember to periodically check in with yourself. These were some of the most challenging years for me, but I genuinely believe that they made me a stronger individual. Do not hesitate to seek support from your academic advisors as they can be an amazing source of guidance through both the highs and lows.

What tools or resources would you recommend to prospective applicants?
If you're reading this right now, congratulations! You’ve found my suggestion. Take the time to explore this blog and discover the invaluable treasures it holds. You'll find a wealth of knowledge that will undoubtedly benefit you on your journey.

Other things I recommend include networking with pharmacists and pharmacy students. Most of the people in this community are willing to help -- because that’s what pharmacy thrives on. Don’t be afraid to pick their brains and see them as opportunities to gain some valuable perspectives.

What single piece of advice would you give to a prospective applicant?
Don’t be afraid to be yourself and really pour your heart into those personal statements and essays. It’s one of the few opportunities you’ll have in the application to really show us who you are. Tell us a story and give us something that you’re proud of.

Why do you think you were admitted into UCSF’s PharmD program?
One of the reasons I think I was admitted into the program was because of my essays! I really appreciated that UCSF had additional essays, outside of just a personal statement, because it allowed me to speak about myself as an individual. It gave me a place to speak about the parts of me that I’m truly proud of.

Another reason may have been my strong passion for leadership and pharmacy, which I made evident in my application. As the president of my undergraduate pre-pharmacy organization, I really found my passion (my "why") for pharmacy. What the profession needs is more leaders. Leaders who are able to look past the norm and take initiative for change.

What do you do for fun?
I like to go climbing/bouldering. I found that it was a good way to stay active, but more importantly keep my mind healthy amidst all the stress and chaos. It’s also been a really great way for me to make friends outside of pharmacy school!

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