Monica, Class of 2010

  • Hometown: Los Angeles, California, USA
  • Previous institution: Loyola Marymount University


Whenever I’m interacting with a patient, that’s when I know I belong in this profession.

While studying at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Monica put herself on a path to obtain her bachelor's degree in biochemistry. She never expected to enter the field of healthcare but knew she loved science and research, particularly in the field of drug development. All Monica needed was to figure out how to incorporate that knowledge into her career. After graduating in 2004, she took two years off and worked as a part-time science interviewer for a market research firm and a front desk receptionist at a local hotel. Both positions taught her a great deal about customer service and effective communication skills until she decided the call to return to school had become too loud to ignore.

Back to school

The possibility of earning a Doctor of Pharmacy degree popped into Monica's head when she volunteered in the dispensary at a family health center in South Central Los Angeles, California. The opportunity to see how pharmacists interact with patients and other members of healthcare teams, plus the chance to learn about various drugs, nurtured a desire to find out more about the profession. After completing additional courses at Santa Monica College and applying to three different schools of pharmacy, Monica knew she found her future school in the University of California, San Francisco.

Patient interaction

Once her pharmacy training got under way, Monica felt she could have the biggest impact in an ambulatory care setting. She loves working alongside an interdisciplinary team during her inpatient rotation experiences, but more importantly she enjoys the patient interactions of ambulatory care. She finds herself especially drawn to counseling patients. "Whenever I'm interacting with a patient, that's when I know I belong in this profession," she explains.

Paying it forward

As much as she enjoys interacting with patients, interacting with fellow students is just as important. Mentoring plays a big part in Monica's life, and she is quick to tell you that the genuine care and support of others helped her get to where she is today. But even more quickly, one realizes just how much she returns the favor to others. As a well-known member of the Class of 2010, she is an active student mentor and loves opportunities to engage prospective pharmacy students. "I like to pay it forward," she says with a smile.

Both as a mentee and as a mentor, Monica has devoted countless hours to her community at UCSF. It is something she knows she will miss but will cherish forever. "I am so motivated by the support from UCSF and everyone here—my classmates and student peers, as well as the faculty and staff. It really feels like a family away from home."

A dose of advice

"Always maintain your confidence and a positive outlook about who you are and what you can accomplish. You may come across some hardships and doubt throughout points of your personal life and pharmacy training, so remain focused on your ultimate goal and have a good support system handy, like family, friends, and loved ones. You will learn and grow from any experience—good or bad. Just remain positive and confident in yourself!"

Photo: Joel W. Gonzales

Next perspective: Patrick

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