You could say that Isabel traveled a long way to get to San Francisco and North America—she originally hails from an entirely different continent. Born in Caracas, Venezuela and raised in Orlando, Florida, she relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2001 for a career in the chemical manufacturing industry. Some years later, she is busy earning her Doctor of Pharmacy degree at the University of California, San Francisco.
While focusing on her career, Isabel began to feel a gap between her professional work and the impact she wanted to have on her community. She felt compelled to involve herself in community service. She joined the Women's Crew within the East Bay branch of Habitat for Humanity and began building houses for those less fortunate. This gave way to serving as a child care volunteer. Before long, she decided to take her involvement one step further and signed on to become a court-appointed foster youth advocate.
A career in pharmacy
Soon, staying committed to both interests was too emotionally and physically demanding for Isabel. As she explored the possibility of a career in healthcare, she felt pharmacy was the best fit. Pharmacy offered a career that would incorporate her background in chemistry, her desire to serve the community, and the flexibility she needed to fulfill her familial responsibilities. "I've been pleasantly surprised by all the opportunities that a career in pharmacy can offer," she explains.
The heart to serve
Now in her second year as a pharmacy student in the Doctor of Pharmacy program, Isabel is looking forward to using her knowledge to educate others on improving and maintaining their health. She aspires to empower people to manage their own health. "If you had asked me 10 years ago if I'd be interested in pursuing a career in pharmacy, I would have said no. The timing was not right for me to pursue pharmacy at that time," she explains. Isabel attributes her volunteer experiences after college with strengthening her compassion for others and preparing her for her next steps. "Pharmacists need both the heart to serve and the intellect to guide. Unknowingly, life had been and continues to be preparing me for a career in pharmacy," she says.
Isabel is still deciding what type of setting she would like pursue as a pharmacist, but she desires to work directly with the community, supporting underserved populations in particular. As a community pharmacy intern, she enjoys directly helping people get the medication they need whether it involves processing insurance claims or recommending appropriate over-the-counter treatment. "It was truly a rewarding experience to be able to use the knowledge that I have gained in pharmacy school to help people solve their problems. Ultimately my goal is to obtain as much as I can—knowledge, skills, resources," she reveals, "so that I can give it away."
A dose of advice
Isabel has plenty of advice to share, but most importantly she advises students to build a heart to serve others, work on developing character, and check their motivation for pursuing their goals. "Pharmacy school is not an end in itself, but another journey in your life that will shape you to become the type of healthcare provider and individual this world desperately needs."
Photo: Joel W. Gonzales