Upon graduation, you completed a fellowship at Allergan. How did it go? What progress was made in your research on age-related macular degeneration?
My 1-year USC-Allergan pharmaceutical fellowship was an unforgettable experience! The value of my fellowship experience far exceeded the 1 year timeframe I spent in the program. As a fellow, I spent the majority of my time working on projects/clinical studies and interacting with multi-functional colleagues which allowed me to develop a solid foundation to become a competent Clinical Scientist in Clinical Development. Some of the experiences I was exposed to during my fellowship included: clinical trial planning, design, and execution; trial-related tasks such as study start-up, protocol development, medical monitoring, study closeout, and clinical study reports. My biggest accomplishment during my fellowship was the completion of a research abstract to support a Phase 2 post hoc analysis as well as future Phase 3 planning for the program. I was also able to share my work at the 2017 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology conference via a poster presentation.
Recall your student experience at the CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy and tell us what it was like.
Despite the challenging workload/curriculum, my years at the CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy were some of the best of my life. I consider myself lucky to have been able to partake in a wide array of activities while at CU.
- Phi Delta Chi – Regarding extracurricular activities, I was most involved/invested in PDC (professional pharmacy fraternity dedicated to promoting leadership, scholarship, and service to our communities). I joined PDC in my first year and continued to be an active member until my last day at CU, holding multiple leadership positions including President. PDC was a good medium that allowed me to connect with my peers (both underclassmen and upperclassmen). I was able to learn from my upperclassmen and gave back (via mentorship) to my underclassmen. My student experience would not have been as enjoyable if I had not participated in PDC. Notable/memorable events hosted by PDC: schoolwide chili competition, annual fundraising competitions in collaboration with Regis to raise money for St Jude Children’s Research, multiple community service events, annual school wide auction involving professors/faculty.
- Curriculum – we were the first class to test out the new pharmacy curriculum at CU. It was challenging because there were no basis to refer to, we were learning as we went (both students and professors alike). It was rewarding because it was a prime example of “cutting edge” education.
- Friendship/Relationships – I was able to forge long lasting relationships with my peers as well as mentors. Some of my closest friends today were those I met during pharmacy school. The countless sleepless nights studying together definitely helped strengthen relationships.
- Career - I was exposed to different work environments/settings that helped confirm the career path I wanted to pursue. It was a rewarding experience to come to the realization of what you want to do for the rest of your life.
A combination of reasons: Colorado is a beautiful state with an array of outdoor recreational activities (I enjoy outdoor activities - hiking, rock climbing, biking, etc). In addition, there are lots to do in Colorado with Denver being a major metropolitan center. The CU Anschutz Medical Campus is a world-class medical destination. CU SSPPS is a top tier school with great faculty. Lastly, I had a great interviewing experience. I felt a connection during my interviewing process.
What is your proudest moment in the pharmacy profession?
My proudest moment was when an investigational product that I worked on (along with multiple hundred colleagues on the clinical trial team) received FDA approval. My pharmacy profession began with an interest in drug research; a long term goal/career milestone I set for myself was to be a contributor to the approval of an investigational product. It felt surreal that this occurred fairly early in my career and I consider myself lucky to have been a part of that team.
What is your favorite thing about being a pharmacist?
I am not considered a “pharmacist” per se, but my favorite thing about pharmacy is its versatility in career options. There are countless career options beyond community and clinical pharmacy. I found my fit in the pharmaceutical industry.
What activities do you find yourself enjoying the most in your spare time from the profession?
My top four activities include the following:
- The gym/exercising/working-out: I find it therapeutic to have my stress-free “me” time, where I could relax/unwind, and work on improving myself (physically and mentally).
- Investing: I was lucky to have met a mentor in the field of finance/investing when I started my pharmaceutical industry fellowship back in 2016. My mentor introduced me to the stock market and guided me through various ways to invest. I have been consistently learning and investing ever since. I now feel empowered to be able to ensure my financial freedom/stability.
- Wood working: With the work from home mandates due to the ongoing pandemic, I’ve had more time to pick up projects around the house. I decided to tackle a bathroom remodel project and subsequently developed an interest in woodworking as a result of the amount of tools I’ve amassed from this project. I now have a never ending to-do list of projects.
- Fishing: another recently found hobby. I’ve always enjoyed fishing but only confirmed recently that I would like to invest more time and resources into the hobby. Similar to #1, I find it to be a therapeutic activity. There’s something about the water/trees/fishes that allows me to be in a tranquil state. It’s a nice/calming setting with bursts of excitement when a fish bites.
Always remember to give back. Once you’ve achieved success, remember those that sacrificed/contributed to ensure you are exposed to opportunities. If you got to where you are solely on your own hard work, then give back to the community. Find ways to create opportunities for future generations to pursue the same path you were able to take.
What sage advice would you pass on to our new incoming class that was helpful for you?
Less Perfectionism, More Self-Compassion: As Brené Brown shares in The Gifts of Imperfection: “Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame.” We put up all these perfectionism walls because we can’t be and do everything. We need to choose for being authentic to ourselves and our values and realize that may mean we won’t always appear like others around us. In the face of that reality, our natural inclination is to justify why we are the way we are. But what will really lead to the best outcome is greater compassion for ourselves and others.
What words of advice would have for the current graduates of the program heading into the job market?
The current situation/pandemic will definitely have a big impact on the job market. Typical routes of obtaining a job may seem difficult in the current setting. However, with new challenges also comes with new opportunities. Don’t be afraid to explore career paths that may seem unconventional. Create your own path if one does not already exist. At the end of the day, pursue what gives you meaning/enjoyment/purpose.