The Student Perspective: Year 1

Valerie, UCSF PharmD Class of 2025

Hometown: Temple City, Los Angeles County, California

Road to PharmD: I had the privilege of attending UC Santa Barbara, where I studied pharmacology. That prepared me for coming to UCSF and getting through the first block of foundations. Other than my major, the UC system offered me a lot of great resources throughout my four years of undergrad that allowed me to flourish mentally, physically, and emotionally.


Inspired to give back

Working in a community pharmacy exposed me to barriers in health care and inspired me to pursue pharmacy as a career. I worked right across from an urgent care [facility]. Oftentimes, people who couldn’t afford the co-payment or didn’t have insurance but were clearly sick decided to pop into our community pharmacy and ask for professional advice. Our pharmacist was able to give good guidance on what they could do with over-the-counter medications, what they may be experiencing due to their symptoms, and refer them to different resources in the community.

On top of that, I had a college internship through the Centers for Publicly Engaged Scholarship, where I did a lot of research on foreign workers and how COVID affected them. Studying the effects of COVID on this population also moved me to want to help underserved communities.

Setting up students for success

When I first came to UCSF, I felt like I was welcomed with open arms. At orientation, I made new friends and some great memories. But at the same time, I was handed a full plate of responsibilities. During orientation, you learn about what your life is going to be like, how to go through the courses, how exams will be given. This curriculum is unlike undergrad where you get to choose your classes. For your PharmD, you go through a pre-determined set of courses in a short period of time, and you’re expected to master them.

It’s rigorous, but it’s doable. There are a lot of resources to support you, like the student-led tutoring group STEP. There’s also a food pantry every Thursday at the Parnassus and Mission Bay campuses that offers great food for all students. And the professors are very approachable.

The year ahead

I’m most excited to get involved in my community as a student pharmacist. UCSF offers a lot of registered campus organizations and opportunities for students to use their clinical skills and serve the community, like vaccine clinics or health screenings. I’m excited to be fully present in the community and practice as an intern pharmacist.

I recently got accepted as a volunteer at the Mabuhay Health Center, which serves the Filipino community in San Francisco. It’s interdisciplinary, so we also work with the medical and dental students here, and we give the community access to a lot of health care.

Next: The Student Perspective: Year 2