Pharm.D. Class of 2017
Where are you from and what high school did you attend?
I was originally born in China. I lived with my grandparents in the city of Wuhan for four years before I joined my parents, who had migrated to the US before me. I only have glimpses of memories of those first four years. For example, I remember my relatives holding a celebration of over 50 people for my first birthday. I remember a big swing my grandparents made for me outside of our small house, where I would sit every morning. My second visit to China was only last year. During my stay, my relatives set up numerous reunion parties because my parents, my brother, and I are the only ones of our extended family in America. Presently, I live in Westborough, Massachusetts. I was part of the 2011 graduating class of Westborough High School.
How did you hear about the School of Pharmacy at Northeastern, and why did you choose pharmacy?
I was very open to options at the time I was choosing my possible major for college. I knew I really liked science, but I didn’t know too much about the specifics of any science-related career. I think that’s when my dad first mentioned the School of Pharmacy at NU. I never considered pharmacy before that, but the career became more attractive as I read more about it. For one thing it’s in the healthcare field, which is an area I’m particularly interested in. In high school I especially enjoyed learning about the science subjects related to healthcare. I want to help people, and I think helping them maintain their health as a healthcare professional is the best way for me to achieve that goal. Furthermore, the pharmacy career is relatively stable because healthcare is always going to be in demand. Flexibility is another plus, since the skills of a pharmacist can be useful in a variety of careers. It’s relatively easy to branch out into other fields as well. Thus, there will be many options available to me when I graduate.
I also went in the direction of pharmacy because the Northeastern PharmD program requirements and rewards were very enticing. Completing only six years of school would earn me a doctorate degree, and I was automatically in the pharmacy program as a freshman. Many other schools require passing additional exams before acceptance into their pharmacy program. In addition, the pharmacy curriculum allows room for a minor, which I could use to explore another field of study I am also interested in, such as business.
Did the co-op program play a role in your decision to attend Northeastern?
Yes, it did. I think many employers look at work experience more than anything else. As part of the pharmacy curriculum I’ll have the chance to try three different co-ops. Because Northeastern has connections with numerous employers and companies, I will most likely be able to find a position that would not have been available to me otherwise. Northeastern students definitely have an edge in the working environment, which is very advantageous in our competitive economy.
What would you like to do for your co-ops?
Since I work at CVS Pharmacy as a technician already, I was thinking about trying an independent pharmacy for my retail co-op to see how it differs from a chain pharmacy. Or I might apply to the ambulatory care clinic that one of my professors works at. I’m open to other options as well.
For my clinical co-op, I may try for UMASS Memorial, which is close to my home. The Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston are also on my list.
The third co-op is my choice. I think I might try industry pharmacy. I think it has to do with pharmaceutical companies, clinical trials, drug tests, and developing drugs, among other things. I’m not too clear on what industry entails, but I know I’ll learn more about it in the coming years. I’m not sure if the FDA counts as industry, but working for that organization would allow my work to have a significant impact on the everyday lives of people in the US.
What is your plan for directly after graduation?
When I graduate, I think I might work as a pharmacist at CVS for several years and then maybe apply for a management position. I could also go through a residency if I wanted to focus on clinical pharmacy. But I’m just starting the pharmacy program, so I know there are still many other options available that I don’t know about yet.
What student groups and/or leadership roles are you involved in?
I am part of the Civil Engagement Program, which requires students to volunteer a minimum of 100 hours per year in the community. I tutor inner-Boston high school students in science, math, and English at Squash Busters on campus.
I also joined Updrifting, a hip-hop choreography-based dance group that recently formed. Each week we learn a routine and record it two weeks later. So far, we have a Facebook page and YouTube channel. Next year, we might start public performances. I’m also in No Limits Dance Crew, which welcomes all dance styles and all levels. There’s a final performance at the end of each semester held in Blackman Auditorium.
Over the next few years, I plan to become more involved in pharmacy organizations, such as the Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA). The club is very action-based, and its members go out into the community and advocate for different causes.
What is your community service involvement?
I volunteer at Squash Busters, which is a program that incorporates academic tutoring and squash. Initially, I assisted eighth graders with school work. But once the coordinators saw my capabilities, I started helping the high school students in SAT preparatory work and speech writing.
High school students are more willing to listen to other students like themselves who are close to their age. I realize that college students have a better chance at getting through to high school teenagers than their teachers are. So, I try to be a mentor, giving the students advice when they need it and encouraging them to chase after their dreams. Reciprocally, the students are all very sweet and greatly appreciate the help the tutors provide. I would like to continue with this program next year as well.
What about your experience on the Dialogue of Civilizations to China?
We traveled to Beijing, Nanjing, Anhui, and Shanghai. The basis of the Dialogue was Chinese language and culture. We toured businesses in China’s expanding economy and lived with a host family for a week. After the program ended, I went to Wuhan to visit relatives.
How frequently do you get to meet School of Pharmacy alumni?
I meet alumni in my Introduction to Pharmacy course. They come as guest speakers.
How do you plan to maintain a connection to Northeastern upon graduation?
I may attend continuing education programs for pharmacy graduates. Keeping up with current drug developments and advancements in science would allow me, as a pharmacist, to provide the best treatment available to my patients.
What would you say to a student who is considering Northeastern?
I would say come here for all the opportunities that Northeastern has to offer. Get involved in your community. Participate in music, dance, sports, and professional organizations. Go on co-op. College isn’t just about getting good grades; it’s about getting involved and getting the experience you need to succeed in the real world. Northeastern encourages you to look ahead and plan your future, and the college advisors provide excellent guidance along the way.
What is your favorite aspect of Northeastern and also the pharmacy program?
Northeastern offers variety in terms of activities. I think that if I had gone to a different school, I wouldn’t have been able to do all the different things that I’m doing now. I like how structured the pharmacy program is. I know many students who worry about the classes they will be taking and what they will be doing in the future. Pharmacy students have a lot of certainty.
What class and/or professor has made the biggest impact on you so far?
I would say Professor Bernstein. He teaches Human Physiology. He teaches with chalk in hand. Every explanation is accompanied by a diagram or picture. He is a very visual person, so his teaching method matches my ideal learning method. He also mixes humor, memories, and made-up stories into his lectures, which make the whole class laugh and pay attention.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not studying for classes?
Dance! Or hang out with friends.
Which dorm did you live in freshman year? Any stories you can tell me?
International Village, which is relatively new. I loved the color coordination and the large windows in the rooms. We also got air conditioning! IV’s suite-styled rooms are unique on campus: I was in a single dorm, which was connected to a bathroom, which was connected to a double. Common rooms are on every floor so students always had a place to hang out in the building. My floor had Valentine’s Day and holiday celebrations in our common room, where we decorated and exchanged food and gifts. We made pancakes with a griddle someone brought in. We had late night movie sessions. And people practiced their instruments in the common room.
What is your favorite hang-out spot on campus? What is your favorite dining hall?
I don’t really have a favorite hang-out spot on campus. But, last year, I liked hanging out on the sixth floor common room of IV sometimes. The Curry dance studios are a nice place to dance and meet other dancers as well. Stetson West is my favorite dining hall because there is stir fry. I guess it’s the closest thing to Chinese food the dining halls have to offer. Also, the fish there is pretty good.
A Few Words of Advice:
Your future is in your own hands, especially in college. No one is going to stand over your shoulder and tell you what to do. So you have to be proactive and find opportunities yourself. Do it in these years when you have so many resources available to you. Don’t wait until you’re completely familiar with your college environment to get involved. College is the prime time to explore your interests. You will have more commitments later in life and less free time to delve into the things you might be passionate about. You don’t want to have any regrets.
Many things are not going to be easy in life. You’re probably going a fail multiple times before you get it right. The faster you fail though, the faster you succeed, so don’t be afraid of failure.
And most importantly, be happy and optimistic. A good mood makes everything a whole lot easier.