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Incoming CU Pharmacy student smiles with a CU Pharmacy pennant

Incoming Pharmacy Student Credits Pathway Programs with Paving the Way for her Heathcare Journey

Khan plans to use her education and experience to address health disparities 

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This article was originally written by the CU Anschutz Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and appeared in The Quarterly Connection, a DEI newsletter. It has been edited for clarity and space.  

When Manaar Khan joins the CU Pharmacy Class of 2028 this fall, she will accept her whitecoat with 92 other students and officially begin her Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) education. Below, she shares in her own words the unique path she took to get here. 

I am a first-generation Pakistani Muslim-American student, and I've lived in Colorado all my life. I went to Smoky Hill High School and during my sophomore year, the director of the University of Colorado Pre-Health Scholars Program (CUPS) came to our school to present about the program. 

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Manaar Khan has been a part of the CU community since she was in high school. She graduated from CU Denver, and she will attend CU Pharmacy this fall.

CUPS serves grades six through 12 and exposes scholars to high-impact events, research, STEAM, and Healthcare careers. All programming is through the University of Colorado (CU) Anschutz Medical Campus. 

At the time, I was interested in going to medical school, so I immediately applied, interviewed, and got accepted into the program in December of 2017. This helped me tremendously, since at the time, neither of my parents had completed college in America, and I was unsure of how to go about these things. 

Mentorship Opens New Opportunities 

The CUPS program is completed upon high school graduation, and in the fall of 2020, Khan started at CU Denver and began working as a Learning Assistant for CUPS. 

I wanted to give back by working for the program. I thoroughly enjoyed mentoring students, assisting with their classes, putting on college prep workshops for them, and much more. While at CU Denver, I also was a scholar in the Undergraduate Pre-Health Program (UPP). I got to do a public health internship where I got to research and present on colonially induced diabetes among South Asians, attend workshops to prepare for graduate school and explore careers in areas like physical therapy, anesthesiology, dentistry, pharmacy, and others. 

Throughout high school and my first year of college, I thought I was pretty set on going to medical school. In my sophomore year of college, while working for CUPS, I met Dr. Dale Nepert, a PharmD who worked at Pfizer. She gave a presentation to the students about the various careers of pharmacists, which opened my eyes to what I felt I was missing. She brought up how, with a PharmD, you are not just limited to a retail pharmacy but have endless healthcare possibilities. When she talked about clinical pharmacy and the ability to still work with patients, work on a team of other healthcare providers, and use your drug knowledge for hospital applications, I finally felt like I found my path in healthcare. 

Khan is unique in that she participated in not one, but two pathway programs designed to guide students into healthcare careers with successful outcomes. 

Programs Provide Resources and Support 

Participating in CUPS contributed to my academic growth through the college prep I received. When I started high school, I knew my goals were to get good grades, get into college, and get scholarships. The problem was that I only knew how to get good grades but not how to get into college or get scholarships. I now can proudly say that I graduated from CU Denver with my education having been fully paid for from scholarships and work-study, and I don't think this would have been possible without the academic foundation CUPS set for me in the pre-collegiate sense. 

Participating in UPP contributed to my personal growth by giving me the space to form interpersonal connections. Our cohort consisted of about 20 people, and this encouraged us to get to know each other better. We all came from different universities across Colorado, majoring in various things, but we all shared the same ambition for similar career goals. I think it helped set a foundation for the networking skills I now have and hope to continue to use. 

Deciding on the Next Step 

While choosing CU Pharmacy may have seemed like the natural path, Khan still did her research to find the best pharmacy school for her. 

Manaar Khan enjoys time with her family.

 

Khan is a Colorado native, and enjoys spending time with her close-knit family. 

Ultimately, I decided on the CU Anschutz Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences because of the amazing opportunities and high-quality education I could get here. On top of Skaggs School of Pharmacy being ranked in the top 10% for pharmacy schools in the nation, I found out they have a 96% first-time NAPLEX pass rate. This was the highest compared to all the other schools I was accepted to. While I want a quality education, I also want to ensure I can be adequately equipped to pass my boards and succeed in my career, and this statistic was an excellent sign of that. Rotation opportunities were also much more diverse and would guarantee valuable exposure. 

I also talked to some current PharmD students, and they all talked about how prepared they felt with every passing year in the program and how much support they received in their academic journey. I came to find out how well-developed the DEI department is at CU Anschutz, meaning that there was a place for someone like me to be supported and represented here. Since I have also been involved with CU Anschutz for so many years, I've seen the type of respect that comes with those parts of this school beyond campus. Once I compared these factors to the other schools I got accepted into, I knew CU Pharmacy was the best choice for my PharmD journey. 

A Passion for Equitable Healthcare 

A really big goal of mine that has shaped my educational and healthcare journey thus far is remedying health disparities. As someone who is South Asian, health disparities have been a huge part of my identity. I spent so long not understanding why people like me were more susceptible to things like diabetes and high cholesterol than other racial groups. It wasn't until I learned that a series of colonially induced famines during the British occupation of India shaped our South Asian community's genetic predispositions. This made me realize how bio-cultural and historical narratives are crucial to providing proper healthcare and closing the health disparity gap.  

I aspire to be a Doctor of Pharmacy who is conscious of my patient's medical history and the predispositions they face due to their bio-cultural and historical narratives. I want to provide personalized, empathetic, and competent healthcare for all who seek it. I want to do my part in making healthcare more equitable, especially for marginalized racial communities in the U.S. 

My most significant piece of advice to young people considering participating in a pathway program is to join it! The programs were already amazing back when I did them, and now they've only gotten even better. You don't lose out if you end up deciding in the program that healthcare isn't for you because that is such a valuable experience. You get to reaffirm or figure out if healthcare is really for you. In my case, I could affirm I didn't want to go to medical school anymore, but I also found out I had a passion for pharmacy. 

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Topics: Students, Pharmacy

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