Ashish, Class of 2009

  • Hometown: Fullerton, California, USA
  • Previous institution: University of California, Berkeley


The way I see it, you go to the doctor’s office for 15 or 20 minutes, but you go on medication for life.

When Ashish looks at his parents, who came to the United States with little and have worked hard to provide better lives for their children, he sees the kind of people he hopes to help as a pharmacist.

Growing up

"My parents moved here for a better life," Ashish said. "Finances were always a struggle." While he was growing up with one sibling, his mother worked nights at an entry-level bank job, and his father attended school.

Ashish grew up in Orange County, California and spent time throughout his childhood in his mother's native Kenya. His father's homeland is India.

The ripple effect

It is no surprise that Ashish, who in 2007 was elected national president-elect of the Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA), is helping increase the number of minority students at UCSF so they, in turn, might serve their communities, which often are most in need of health care.

"In medicine in general, there are so many health disparities," Ashish says. "Increasing the number of minority and underserved students at UCSF would have a ripple effect in society of helping underserved populations if students return to the communities of which they are a part," Ashish said. "An important component of treating someone is knowing your patient population."

Why pharmacy?

Ashish, who earned a bachelor of arts in integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley had long been interested in a career in medicine. The summer after his sophomore year, he volunteered in a hospital. Watching physicians and nurses struggle with decisions at times when there was no pharmacist on duty made him realize that being a pharmacist was his calling. "The way I see it, you go to the doctor's office for 15 or 20 minutes, but you go on medication for life. That was more powerful."

Volunteering and working as a student

Ashish sits back in a café discussing his many interests and projects, which include working with SNPhA, helping with a UCSF summer camp for San Francisco high school students, and working at a part-time job -- all in addition to his studies. "My type of lifestyle is 'happy busy,'" says Ashish.

At the pharmacy in Oakland where he works as a pharmacy intern, Ashish sees how his career choice can fulfill his dream of helping underserved and minority populations. Recently he was filling a prescription for a patient he sees regularly, a 40-year-old woman with diabetes. "I was busy, but I made time to talk to her. She has a young son who likes soccer. I encouraged her to go play soccer with him. She lived two blocks from the pharmacy. I told her, 'Next time, walk here instead of driving.' I didn't do anything different with her medication, but I talked to her because it's important to know your patients and care about their overall health."

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