Nicole, Class of 2009

  • Hometown: Fresno, California, USA
  • Previous institution: California State University, East Bay


I want to be able to bring what I learn back to Fresno . . . there is such a need for healthcare professionals in the Central Valley.

Nicole Marie's motivation for pursuing a professional career in pharmacy comes from her desire to learn more about the cancer that took her father's life. This desire has grown beyond merely understanding oncology medication and now encompasses working one-on-one with families grappling with the disease. "My dad was very proud of me," says Nicole. "I would give anything to tell him that I am attending pharmacy school."

Helping communities in need

Nicole earned a bachelor of science in biochemistry from California State University, East Bay. "I am the first one to graduate from college in my family," she explains. Her goal is to use her pharmacy education to help people in her Central Valley hometown of Fresno. "I want to be able to bring what I learn back to Fresno. There is such a great need for health care professionals in the Central Valley. Fresno has a high poverty rate, lots of gangs, a high pregnancy rate, and there is not a lot of focus on education, especially for minorities."

Reaching out to the Central Valley

Nicole has been on clinical rotation assignments in Fresno, including a rotation at Children's Hospital Central California. She has also been able to see the value of outreach programs such as the UCSF Fresno Latino Center for Medical Education and Research. "The main reason I chose to attend UCSF was because of the University's involvement in the health care profession in the Central Valley. UCSF has many programs in the Central Valley focused on reaching out to youth. These programs expose students to the medical profession and assist students in applying to professional school." Nicole wholeheartedly supports programs that aim to increase the number of health care professionals in the Central Valley and draw attention to the need for medical resources within the Central Valley.

Changing fear to understanding


Nicole says she wants to specialize in oncology pharmacy, but she is also interested in other areas. "Diabetes directly affects the Hispanic population and a lot of Hispanics fear this disease and don't really understand it," she says. "If you find out you have diabetes, it's not a death sentence. It's hard to manage, but it is easier if you have people helping you."

One thing that has become clear to Nicole is that explaining things to pharmacy patients and customers goes a long way toward alleviating fears.

"I'm so glad I chose this field," Nicole says. "There are a lot of benefits. I'll always have a career to support my family, which is very important to me. But I'll also always be able to help others. That's all I ever wanted to do."

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