Ask Timothy to reflect on his undergraduate experience at University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and you’ll hear about a diverse set of experiences and academic interests. He’ll tell you he started out as a literature major—a decision driven by his love of the written word—but later switched to ethnic studies because of his interest in the humanities. He’ll explain he graduated with a degree in biology and that his choice was a very intentional one. Timothy will mention his long-standing leadership in both the Office of Academic Support and Instructional Services (OASIS), in which he tutored underserved students in organic chemistry, and the Student Promoted Access Center for Education and Service (SPACES), a unique organization dedicated to improving educational access for underserved communities. He’ll also give credit to the UCSD Cross Cultural Center for supporting his career and identity exploration. And he’ll definitely tell you that some of his best memories come from the hours he spent immersed in music and dance.
So much to do, so little time
During his undergraduate years, Timothy found himself pulled in many directions, and he followed as many as he could. He sought to become a truly well-rounded student, not just one that would someday please an admissions committee. “I dared to be different,” he shares. His experiences helped him discover his skills as an effective leader and his passion for performing. He took courses that challenged him and changed his views on the world. He chose experiences that nurtured his desire to learn about humans and society and the world at large. So how did he connect this to a future in health care?
Timothy credits two experiences with illuminating his path to pharmacy. For one, his involvement with the campus cross-cultural center showed him how the humanities and sciences could be blended. The center nurtured his critical consciousness through poems and literary pieces (he is especially partial to authors Michel Foucault and bell hooks) and challenged him to not only see how politics and dominant culture influence scientific discoveries, but how factors such as race, class and sexual orientation can change medical outcomes. The other experience was a fortunate enrollment in a biology course called AIDS and Society which taught him that people and their health are not isolated factors but instead part of the fabric of humanity and society at large. He began to see a path that united science and society, two things he loved. He felt a career in pharmacy would enable him to focus on individuals and their health while lending strength to push society to change.
Agent of change
Timothy wants to be a pharmacist. He wants to help patients reach their optimal health and help them continue to live healthy lives. He wants to be accessible, a health care professional within reach. And he wants to remember what’s most important for a pharmacist and their patients: quality time spent discussing strategies and making plans. Now that Timothy is a pharmacy student at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), his focus is on science and therapy, and his role serves as a reminder to himself to unite the community around him. "We aren’t really making thoughtful changes unless we venture outside the university to see what the needs are of people around us. It is my duty as a pharmacy student to venture beyond these walls to share what I can. I will help my patients understand how to use their medications safely and help them create a world where they can find peace, love, and joy.”
Making waves at UCSF
Timothy wears the label of an active student proudly, and he commits his time intentionally. Education is high on his list of values and critical, he says, in ways that are innumerable. As a pharmacy student he chose to join the Educational Policy Committee, an avenue for students and faculty to nurture and make changes to the doctor of pharmacy curriculum at the School of Pharmacy. He is also heavily involved in activities that support the well-being of the LGBT community in San Francisco, whether through community outreach events or targeted projects.
A little thing called balance
There’s no dancing around the fact that life as a professional student is demanding, so it’s critical to find and use tools that will help you thrive. For Timothy, those elements include exercise, dance, and music. He feels best when he’s made time to unwind with exercise. Dance and music are big parts of his life, and a recent return to the dance world has been a welcome re-introduction to an art that makes up a large part of who he is.
Explore your identity
Timothy’s advice to prospective students: look inside and get to know yourselves. “Explore your identity. Find your voice, figure out who you are first. How will you know what you can or cannot do once you get here if you haven’t put in the work beforehand?” Pharmacy, he says, is a broad field. The possibilities are endless; it will be up to each student to maximize his or her experience. Being self-driven and motivated are musts. UCSF is a place where you can be rewarded for pushing those boundaries, but first things first, he’ll tell you. You must dare to be different. Timothy regularly draws inspiration from the work of a favorite poet Audre Lorde to remind him of this: “When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”